Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Road Warriors for Fraternity

I'm called many things.  Field staff.  Field rep.  Traveling consultant.

No matter what you call me, I know what I am in my heart.


Road. Warrior.


And this is my creed.


I will build a brighter future for fraternity, one chapter at a time.


I will learn to live out of a car.  And how to get through airport security with Olympic sprinter speed.  Just give me a month or so.


I will be terribly nervous.  I will probably care too much about what others think of me.  I will try too hard to make friends.  Give me a month for this one as well.


On paper, I am a cost-effective way to bring the office closer to the members. I make the finance staff smile. I was promised a terrible salary and that's what I got. I was also promised adventures and that's what I'll get.


I understand that on the org chart, I'm near the bottom.  Probably below the guy who comes in to fix the copier.  But on the influence chart, I'm near the top. I am the front line.


There are staff back at the office complaining about a certain "dysfunctional" chapter. They’ve
 seen their balance sheet, their web page, and their reports. I'll be standing in their living room on Tuesday. I will see them.

My fraternity needs me.  And needs me to be strong.


I will discover soon enough that truck stops have the best food, and that the world's biggest ball of twine is worth the 30 minute diversion.


I will speak and present dozens of workshops.  But, I know that the difference I will make will be through individual conversations.


Listening is my greatest tool.

I understand that a few encouraging words from me can be the difference between a weary president who quits and one who perseveres; between the member who becomes lost and the one who moves one row closer to the front; between the advisor who drifts away and the one who re-engages.

I will prepare for each visit like Peyton Manning.

I will allow myself several fist pumps after a successful visit.  And a big helping of ice cream after a bad one.  Actually, ice cream either way.


I will proudly represent my fraternity or sorority through my actions.  I am Ritual in motion.


People in the airport will be impressed by my kindness to the overstressed gate agent.  I will let people merge in front of me on the highway.  I will wave at construction crews and say thank you to every military person I see.


I will be a happy road warrior.


If I get pushed to the brink, I will call a timeout.
  They need me to be wise – not an exhausted jerk.

As Hunter Thompson put it, everyone needs psychic anchors in their life, and I will find mine.  Be it church, or Mad Men on Sunday nights, or the cheesy hashbrown casserole at Cracker Barrel.

I will learn to push and challenge.  I will develop the rare skill of being the “lovable tough guy.”  That may take more than a month.

I will work my tail off to move the needle.  Some days it will move a mile, and most days it will move an inch.  But it's moving.  My fraternity cannot afford a day in which it doesn't.  

And some days will be chaos.  No matter how stressed, emotionally spent, tired, or road-weary I am when I get the fraternity's front door, it's game-on when I walk inside.

I will be discounted for my age by university administrators, chapter advisors, and almost everyone else.  I will have to prove myself.  I’ll wear a suit to big meetings.

And I’ll remember that my age is an asset.  I’m not ready to be old and cynical yet.

I will forgo the chain restaurants in favor of the famous campus pizza parlor.  And places with names like "The Flying Gila Monster" in towns with names like “Bug Swallow.”

Even if I don't like a member I meet, I will believe in him or her.

 I will give each chapter a chance.  And they will get my best.

I will spend more time alone with my own mind than ever before, and will be better off because of it.


I will have lots of stories to share.  Like Buffett sang: "some of it's magic...some of it's tragic..."

My belief in the fraternity movement will be shaken, broken, rebuilt.  Daily.

I will say to the members: you can confide in me, but remember something important.  If you reveal something that puts you or others in danger, I will intervene.  Not because I am from the national office.  But because I am your brother.  Your sister.

I will not ignore my gut.  Or the butterflies.  Or the loneliness.  Or the spectacular feeling of winning. Or the handshakes, hugs, and “thank-yous” I didn’t expect.

I will trust my instincts, lean on my training, and make huge mistakes anyway.

I will say “I can do this.”  Again.  Again.  And again.

And on those days that go terribly bad, when every conversation seems pointless, all my efforts seem worthless, and the future seems hopeless,  I will return to my car and take a few minutes to be upset.  Sit in silence.  Or blast the radio.  Or call a friend.  But I can't take long.

Because there is another small town to drive through.
  Another chapter up the road.  I need to get there by tomorrow, climb the stairs, ring the doorbell, and try again.   

Because my fraternity still needs me.   

The road is long, but warriors don’t give up.

Especially road warriors.
  Like me.


5 comments:

  1. John. From a former road warrior, FANTASTIC POST.

    Thank you.

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  2. Fantastic post. I remember my times with the other road warriors from Sigma Nu and we created some incredible life-long bonds. Great time to be young and working.

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  3. Love it man!! Awesome post. I love the road warriors and always will, they make it happen!

    You too Clags.

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  4. I am an alumnus. I believe in the American College Fraternity System.

    Which means I believe in you.

    If you are in town, I will meet you, buy you dinner and a beer (and it's not PBR!). I will thank you, no matter what your letters are. I appreciate all you do, for so little money and so much sweat.

    If you need a cell phone charger, an ink cartridge, a new pair of shoes, or a sheet of plywood, I will bring it to you, along with the tools. I am your quartermaster.

    What you are doing, and what those who have gone before you have done, made me what I have become today. I stand on the shoulders of giants, and you are many of the giants.

    My son, a sophomore, checked into his room last night, at an outstanding university, and men like you made it possible for him to be on that campus. If there is anything I can do to help you recolonize your chapter on that campus, it would be a small price compared to what you men have done for me.

    Keep up the good work,

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  5. John,

    It's been a little over a month since I hit the road for my fraternity. Your points are spot on. Reading this again was just what I needed to stay motivated. Thanks for writing this piece!

    ReplyDelete