I have a bad habit of letting trade publications pile up on my desk. No more. From here on in I am going through them right away and pulling out the articles I want to read and recycling the rest. As I went through a year and half worth (realizing that the Big Trends of 2014 most likely are no longer relevant and I didn’t have the budget to implement many of them anyway – phew) I saw many personal development articles bestowing the virtue of saying NO – the fact that NO is a complete sentence and that we should all use it with more frequency and with vehemence.  Which certainly puts me in an awkward position as my title of this blog is, The Case for Yes. Instead of going back to 2013 or even 2009 (I found a few of these gems in the publications mix – remember when Green Meetings were the hot trend?) to find justification for this blog, I decided to put my own spin on why yes is the new no.

As I embark on my term as Immediate Past President of the Meeting Professionals International Indiana Chapter (IMPI) Board of Directors, I begin to look more closely on succession planning for an organization that I not only believe in but have been an active member of for 10 years.  If I hadn’t said YES to joining the IMPI Awards Committee 9 years ago, that ball that lead to me serving as President this past year would never have been put into motion. I never would have some of the most amazing mentors or my most dear friends.

For all intents and purposes I was the perfect candidate to say no, I was super pregnant, ready to be a first time mom, only in my job at LeadingAge Indiana for a few years and still learning the ropes, and I didn’t know anyone in the organization. But I said yes. And I am asking you to do the same.

So, let’s say you don’t have aspirations to be your organization’s President, should you still say yes? YES! But first, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What’s in it for you? Or as the PC way would be to say “Define Your Goals”. What is your 2 year plan with the organization? How will being a member help you personally or professionally? If you don’t get involved, you won’t see the benefits of membership, it’s just that simple. The difference between being a committee member and a BOD member is determined by your ultimate goal.
  2. Know your limitations. If you only have an hour a month to commit to the organization, then Board service is not for you. A task force might be appropriate or a short term assignment. But I would challenge you if you say you only have an hour. Why? What else fills your time? Is this organization really that important to you if you can’t find more than an hour? Maybe it’s not (that isn’t the answer that I am looking for, but you need to be honest with yourself).
  3. After a year of volunteerism, reassess your commitment. Are you better for the time and the talent that you have shared with the organization’? Is your organization better off because of your commitment? If you can answer yes then it’s time to up the ante. If you answered no, then it’s time for some self-reflection.

We have all heard the quote “Ninety percent of life is just showing up.” But being a volunteer isn’t just showing up, it’s doing. Maybe there are some selfish reasons to say YES, but at the end of the day it is about getting engaged. Satisfied volunteers don’t do it for the glory, they do it for personal and professional development and the betterment of their organization. That is one strong partnership.

As I embark on the next chapter of my IMPI experience, I thank those who took the time to share their time and talent, to mold me into the volunteer that I am today – I am, and always will be, a work in progress. When all is said and done, my involvement with IMPI won’t earn me a badge, but it does make me a partner in the success of the chapter, and for that I will always say Yes. No is so 2014. Are you ready to say YES?

The Case for Yes

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2 thoughts on “The Case for Yes

  1. Thanks for a great article,Emily. Becoming involved in professional organizations is one of the best things a person can do for themselves, and for so many reasons.

    As a professional speaker and executive coach with over 25 years of experience on the platform and working for corporations and associations, getting involved in our local ATD (originally called ASTD – American Society for Training and Development) and NSA-MI (National Speakers Association – Michigan Chapter), eventually becoming president of both organizations, was the very thing that helped launch my career: 1) It provided an inside look at the industry I was becoming a part of, 2) It put me in front of people who could and would hire me or refer me because they had a chance to see the calibre of my work, my character and commitment in all areas of responsibility, 3) It provided me an opportunity to meet,network, and make friends with seasoned professionals, learning from all of them and being mentored by some of them – priceless.

    The best part is that for the past 10 years I’ve been able to give back to the organization who gave so much to me by mentoring and coaching those who participate in our ProTrack program for up and coming speakers. None of this would have been possible without making the choice to say YES to getting involved at the highest level.

    Working with association members not only keeps your own energy high, but keeps you constantly on the grow. You cannot help others without helping yourself. And, as Tom Hopkins said years ago, “When you’re green you’re growing, but when you’re ripe, you are rotting.” Volunteering – staying actively involved in professional organizations – guarantees you remain green and growing. Like you, Emily, I highly recommend it!!!

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