Just after Easter, a friend told me about attending the last meeting of a club he had helped start almost 42 years ago. Their downfall was caused by a simple problem, nobody wanted to serve as officers. I suspect there were other factors too but considering the state of our government, we can certainly see how the lack of suitable candidates for officers can doom an organization.  This started me thinking. Organizations are created and disbanded daily. Why do organizations fail? What makes a club great? What causes one to die after four decades? Why would anyone want to belong to a club anyway? I have an opinion.

 Let’s face it, most of us feel a need to interact with other people. Without this interaction the world would be very dull. True, after an hour’s commute into work, I could do with a lot less interaction but that’s a different post. People inspire us to do our best. We compete against them, we cooperate with them. We draw inspiration from them. Case in point, if I was the only one reading my posts, I would have stopped writing long ago. This is my way of interacting with you. Your comments keep me writing.

Organizations give us the opportunity to interact with people that share our interests. Inside that organization, we hope to find camaraderie, inspiration and that touch of competition that motivates us. It doesn’t matter if it’s a church, a club or the workplace, without the encouragement of people in that group, the majority of us will seek out another group.

Think about organizations you’ve belonged to. Every one of those organizations had a personality driven by the most active members. Several of these members probably went out of their way to make you feel welcome. I’m sure you’ve also encountered a few organizations where the members seemed to consider your presence in the same space time continuum as their club, an affront to the very existence of humanity. It might be coincidence but more often than not, these organizations fail rapidly.

It isn’t a coincidence that I spent most of my time with organizations that make me feel welcome. These are usually growing bustling organizations that I can actually enjoy and watch them grow.

I still remember going to a Paint Horse show with my wife and being amazed at how friendly everyone was. I wasn’t about to sell my Appaloosas and start over with Paints but I did consider some selectively placed hair dye (In case you’re wondering, the fact I’m writing this is proof I didn’t share that thought with my wife). Back to the Texas Paint Horse club, I’m sure you’re not surprise that they were one of the fastest growing clubs in Texas.

This attitude is how a club attracts new members and unless you’re a tontine, you need new members. New members are the lifeblood and future of your organization. Without new members the organization grows stagnant and you lose the few members you do have.

                                The Gang

How do you keep members? You need enthusiasm. We have four dogs living with us, Ronin, Cajun, Sundae and Roxie. When we go out to play it’s insanity. Ronin is so excited, he can barely contain himself. The other three dogs are exuberant in playing. Take Ronin out of the mix and the dynamics change dramatically.  Without Ronin, Cajun is ready to call it quits after a few ball retrieves. Roxie sits and guards us from bands of marauding squirrels. Sundae, while still coveting her tennis ball, is far more willing to take it easy.

 My point is that Ronin’s exuberance inspires the others. Humans tend to display the same traits. Enthusiasm is contagious. Let’s face it, sports stadiums exist because we enjoy sharing our enthusiasm with all the other fans. Nothing else explains paying $20 for a hot dog and beer while enjoying the whims of Mother Nature. We won’t even discuss the cost of parking.

Not everybody is cut out to be an officer but if you want your club to succeed you have to be willing to work for it. In today’s business world, the politically correct view is to consider everyone equal and interchangeable. Give enough training to someone and they can do the same job anyone else can. It’s a lie of course. I don’t care how much training you give me; my brain just isn’t wired the same as Einstein. That doesn’t mean I can’t help in some capacity.

Another dues paying member

The surest way to ensure the failure of your club is to behave like a piece of driftwood. You know what I mean. People who do nothing but show up at most of the meetings. They never voice an opinion and definitely don’t volunteer for any work because it would be inconvenient. After all, they pay their dues and expect other people will do the work, they always do. If this is your attitude, do your club a favor, quit now. Clubs don’t need driftwood. They need members that will take part in the club.

Be friendly, show enthusiasm and serve. I’m guessing my friend’s club would have been around for another 40 years if all the members had followed that advice. What traits do you think I missed?

© 2017 – 2019, Byron Seastrunk. All rights reserved.