Friday, February 19, 2010

On the Way Down!

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a conference with four of BSC’s student leaders. It was the National Convention for the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) and while we were there, we got to see a performance by Ryan Cabrera. A song of his inspired the title of this blog post. Our conference experience also ended with me falling/sliding down a set of stairs (long story, but I’m ok, thanks for asking!). So I thought I would use some of these fun thoughts to introduce an idea that isn’t all that fun. Today, I wanted to discuss how to avoid letting people down.

As people of responsibility, which we all are, some of us take on more than others and sometimes we don’t completely follow through on what we are responsible for. It happens to all of us. We have a lot to balance in life, in college, you have class work, group work, presentations, papers, books to read and classes to go to. You probably also have a job or many jobs, clubs that you are involved in, events that you go to and meetings. You also need to keep in touch with your family, hang out with your friends, check Facebook and deal with life in general. After all of that, you also need to find some time to sleep along with about 50 other items on your to-do list. At some point, something has to give, something is going to be forgotten, something is going to not get done.

With all of this responsibility, there are many relationships that are connected. Your friends, your family, your classmates, your co-workers, your fellow club members, your boss and your professors. Sometimes when you don’t follow through on your responsibilities, some of them are going to get hurt as well. How do you avoid this? How do you make sure that your don’t ruin relationships? How do you make sure your rare “let down” doesn’t hurt a lot of people?

In my experience, especially when it comes to clubs and organizations, you need to follow three steps. These are probably not things that are going to surprise you, but sometimes we need a little reminder!

Step 1: Get Organized!
Anyone who comes to my office, immediately knows that I am not always a very organized person. I know that this can occasionally affect the things I do. At least once a week, I take stock of where I am, flip through the papers on my desk and make sure that I’m not missing something. If I don’t, I know that things get lost or I will forget to follow up on something. My point here is to take a little time for you, where you can collect your thoughts, organize a to-do list and see what responsibilities you need to fulfill. Prioritize your list, make sure you get your assignments done! Then start to work through the list.

For you, getting organized is going to be something different then it is for someone else. The important thing is to just find what works for you.

Step 2: Communicate
If you know you have a big test coming this week, think about what other responsibilities are going to suffer. Does that mean you can’t go to an e-board meeting? Are you not going to make it to Bingo with your friends? Are you not going to be able to go to work on Wednesday? Then let people know. Most people are happier to help you out if you give them a heads up and let them know that you aren’t going to be around. Sometimes, that may mean bigger things. If you need to step away from all of your responsibilities for the club you are in for two weeks, then do that, but make sure you tell someone and that they know all the information they need in order for the club to not suffer. Talk with your club advisor, let him/her know what is going on and seek their advice on how to manage things. That is what they (we) are here for!

Step 3: Know when to cut back
One of the hardest things about being involved on campus is stepping down from a position. I can still remember my own personal debates when I had to resign from a position in a club in college in order to pursue other things. If you feel that a one or two week break from a club is not going to cut it, that you are feeling overwhelmed and can’t handle all of your responsibilities, then it’s time to step back and reevaluate what you are involved with. There is nothing wrong with stepping down from a position. Many of the students who I have seen step down from a position, are some of the people I respect the most as leaders. The leader who is overwhelmed and steps down, does more good for their organization then the leader who is overwhelmed and holds on to the position, leaving others to pick up the slack.

This is not a call for all leaders to resign. I know that at times you will get stressed out, and that doesn’t mean you need to immediately step away. You need to do what is best for you and you need to organize, prioritize, communicate and then refocus your energy and sometimes that means stepping down from certain clubs or focusing your attention on your class work and only one organization. Remember that the staff in OSIL is always available to talk to you about your club responsibilities, and we can help you with some of the organizing and prioritizing.

Keep up the good work you are doing and remember to always do your best!