They Are Killing Our Access!
Is your club ticked off at a neighboring club? Are you drifting away from your club because of the behavior of a few folks? Do you find yourself attending fewer club/group meetings these days? Do you feel like your opinion does not count? Are you ready to say to heck with it and walk away as a volunteer? Are you tired of the politics and clicks in your club? Have you gone virtual to avoid meetings and club bantering? In other words, do egos and personalities rule your recreation?
Have egos and personalities pushed you away from days like this?
In my travels around the country helping folks get organized and keep trails open, I have seen too many of the above problems. Don’t get me wrong; tons of great clubs are doing just fine. But I’ve seen my share of personalities driving folks away from organized recreation. There are ways to fix that.
Our future lies in folks joining and staying active in organized recreation. The more we band together and stay tuned into the status of our trails, the better our chances of having a sport in the future. The more we separate or alienate from each other, the less chance we have of surviving as a recreational pursuit. We must be together (unified) at every opportunity.
There is nothing stronger than face-to-face getting to know each other and sharing the passion we have for our sport.
This means our local clubs/groups must be viable and effective. I am constantly reminded of the anti-access (radical environmental groups) slogan “think globally; act locally.” They have it figured out. They preach keeping the big picture in mind while taking baby steps locally toward achieving the big picture. It works!
Making Swiss Cheese
In large business corporations and management, there’s a concept called the “swiss cheese” approach. Swiss cheese has a lot of holes in it to make the cheese what it is. When a manager faces a tremendously complex task, the Swiss cheese approach is to make one hole at a time until you have your block of cheese done. In other words, like a long hike in the backcountry, it’s just one step at a time until you reach your destination.
This is where the local level involvement is so significant. If we’re all taking baby steps, punching holes in the big block of Swiss cheese, eventually, we’ll achieve the big picture – responsible and sustainable motorized access for all!
It starts with your local club or group. It begins with a few folks deciding to get past personalities and get something done for the greater good. It begins with a commitment not to let someone else control how you feel about your sport or club.
Have politics and club meetings pushed you out of organized recreation (unnecessarily)?
If you have personality issues in your club or group, I suggest that before you give up, you confront them head-on. Let folks know how you feel and what you expect. Only then can a group or club decide to make changes to accommodate your wishes. But to me, it is such a shame to see someone drop out of a group without letting folks know the reason why.
It is similar to telling a boss at work what’s wrong from your perspective so the problem can be fixed. So many times, bosses don’t know what the employees know. So by letting someone know there’s a problem, at least you give them a chance to fix it.
There’s an old saying I use a lot: “A complaint is never legitimate until it is voiced to someone who can fix it.” If personalities rule your recreation, then I suggest you speak up and clear the air. Get to the “peace table” and talk it out. Go face to face, and don’t try to solve it on the forums. Find solutions or compromises that all the parties can live with. But whatever you do, give it a shot before you give up.
When a club/group is cohesive, and at peace with egos, the smiles tell the story.
When I help folks get past personality issues, I always remind them that we are not out to change who someone is, only how they behave in our group. If a particular behavior alienates other club members, we must find a way to change that behavior. It can be done, but only through communications that are pretty open and honest.
We cannot let egos and personalities kill our sport! Getting past these human frailties is the first step towards clearing the air and sharing expectations to accomplish the task or mission.
As leaders or just good volunteers, we must let folks know our expectations — those things that make us smile and enjoy our sport (or our job or anything else). The same holds for a club or a volunteer committee. If you have expectations that are not being fulfilled, then let someone know. Doing so increases your chances of staying in the game and helping punch holes in that big block of cheese.