It is no secret that I spend much of my life in meetings, which means I spend a great deal of time asking myself why am I here. I am not the lone GenX’er with this sentiment.
It is well established that GenerationX values results. The words why, purpose, meaning, end result and outcome often float around in my head, especially when I find myself (once again) sitting in an uncomfortable chair in a small hot room surrounded by people who seem to have only shown up for free lunch and to chat about American Idol.
Just yesterday I found myself there-with my familiar inside voice asking myself “why am I here?” and “what outcome does this group serve?”. As I contemplated the answers, I notice two things happening….1) two participants of my generation jumping in to ask the questions “what does this group want to accomplish, what outcome does it serve” and 2) push back from boomers stating that the value of the group was just meeting like we always have, having a defined purpose, outcome or result wasn’t entirely necessary. One well-meaning and passionate boomer is quoted saying “I don’t feel like we’re spinning our wheels by just meeting like we always have, I get a lot out of just showing up.”
Comments like this, although well-intentioned and honest, are the kiss of death to my commitment to a group. Meeting just for the sake of meeting is squandering valuable human resources. A group or coalition without a clear purpose is unlikely to yield valuable end results. Where there is no purpose, there is no team, no group, no true coalition ready to change the community. It turns into a meeting that is merely a social hour with free food.
Does this mean I’m not a team player? No. To engage me in a group or coalition, there must be clarity with purpose and discussion of end results. Better yet, involve me (and other X’ers) in the development of that mission, purpose and end product. Better still, understand that my desire for results doesn’t equate to me not wanting to be part of process. I want to be part of change. I believe group process (and coalitions in this instance) provide opportunity for positive change in my community and a chance for me to learn and grow professionally.
And for the record, free lunch at meetings is good, but not enough to draw me to a meeting just for the sake of meeting. I chose the non-profit field because I want positive change, not just be social. Want a formula for engagement? Food AND purpose, I’ll be there ready to jump right in.