Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Spirit Stick Beat Down

How does a stick become a carrot motivator?  When it’s a Spirit Stick.  This symbol evokes memories of high school pep rallies and Friday night football.  The stick tradition began in the late 1940’s at a national cheerleading camp.  One squad was not particularly good at performing the moves, but always arrived early and stayed late, all day long actively encouraging the other teams.  Their enthusiastic attitude had a dramatic impact on the spirit of the camp.  For this, the camp coordinator created an impromptu award, a decorated tree branch, to recognize that squad’s positive impact.

We all hunger to see such enthusiasm in our organizations.  But some groups have strange ideas of how to instill ‘spirit’.  An obvious example is some religious or social gathering that gets mired in group-think.  This mindset isolates and strangles the ability to positively influence newcomers. 

Introducing a newbie into your homeowners association, business, or a Georgia CAI committee is a matter of first impressions.  Does your welcoming act include a thick list of rules?  Greetings of “Thou Shalt Not” drown out any thought of benefits and rewards.  Words are like rain:  Hard ones don’t soak in.

The ways conflicts are handled cement your group’s reputation as a bridge builder or burner.  When a homeowner sends a ten-point list of accusations, the natural reflex is a point-by-point response.  That list of complaints serves to pull your emotional chain.  Ignore the distraction.  Instead keep your responses short, focusing on big picture items.  Sometimes silence is the best answer.

Conspiracies are an opportunity to quench the fires of volunteerism.   Gossiping about past conflicts with other individuals is unprofessional and leaves the hearer wondering what is being said about him or her.  If everyone is out to get you, there’s probably a good reason for it.  Take a look in the mirror.

Self-absorbed personalities in an organization are also a turnoff.   At best, they are daunting, or worse, obnoxious.  Either result dampens spirits.  Instead you should tout group accomplishments not yours.  Self-important people are only important to themselves.
Tooting your horn about the organization is expected.  More often, let your actions do the talking.  Keep your focus on encouraging the others to do their best, even those who might be competitors.  Raising the standard of excellence for ALL creates opportunities for you and your team.  So walk softly and carry a big spirit stick.

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