—Danielle Fields, National Vice President, JCI USA
I once had a boss that walked by me every morning and rarely spoke. Now, being raised in the south, I understand that I may expect a different level of hospitality and cordiality than some of my northern friends. However, in my opinion the easiest way to show a person that they do not matter is to be indifferent towards them.
Have you ever worked with or for a person that treated you similarly? How did it make you feel? Bitterness, anger, apathy, indifference, resentment and pride are some feelings that may arise as a result of feeling like you are unimportant as an employee. The danger in this feeling is more than just the feelings that arise; the danger is in the actions that follow. These actions may be looking for another job, not giving your work 100%, being unpleasant to your coworkers or family, speaking poorly of your boss or worse. For those with mental illnesses, more detrimental results like depression and anxiety may arise or flare.
JCI USA is here to provide development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change. Our members are the heartbeat of our organization. So let’s flip the scenario. As a leader, whether chapter, state or national, how do your members feel about their value? Chapter Presidents or board members, have you reached out to your individual members at any point in the last five months? All of them? State Presidents and boards, have you reached out to your chapters and checked on them? Do they know that you have their back and genuinely care? Are you providing opportunities for them to grow and learn how to be better both personally and professionally?
Today, I spoke with six state presidents and asked them if they could think of a time that they did not feel valued in our organization. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. All of them had a story! Many were at the local chapter level, some were at the state level. Some of the stories pushed them away from the organization for a brief time and some only further emboldened them. Our members should never feel a lack of value. Every member brings something unique to our organization and every member has the potential for growth.
The value in membership with JCI is vast. It all starts empowerment. Empowering yourself and your fellow members with opportunities to essentially accomplish anything and move you closer to your personal goals. As a member, you have resources and training available to learn skills that will fill in the ‘holes’ in your resume that your traditional job may not provide. These skills may include marketing, sales, leading groups, public speaking, advocacy, networking, management, event planning, etc. You have the opportunity to lead groups as a committee member, committee chair, Chapter board member, State committee member, State board member, National committee member, program manager, director or Executive Committee member and eventually a potential to serve on the International level. You have opportunities to work directly with government leaders, community leaders and business leaders. You have opportunities to travel and network with young people across the world. How are you engaging and communicating with your fellow members? Are we losing members before they learn the true value in the organization? With more intentional relationship building and communications, it may be easier than we realize to instill the value of membership in JCI.
As we look forward to our next 100 years as an organization, I think introspection and reflection are necessary. We need to make sure that we are not indifferent towards one another—our members—but truly value each other. Reach out, check in, and let them know they matter. Say YES more and allow members to pursue projects for causes that they are passionate about. Let them learn for themselves that failure is an option. In doing so, we have the opportunity to show the true values our members can discover in this amazing movement.