Starting off the school year can be a hectic time. In between getting back in the swing of classes and building organizational momentum, it is easy to fall in the trap of old habits. Instead of attempting new initiatives, it is safer to fall into the same policies, programs, and practices that we have used year after year. It is through this willingness to fit into past standards though, that we find our dilemma. When we allow ourselves to repeat, reuse and recycle constantly, we become boring. As organizations, students, and leaders, we have to stop being boring.
Moving an organization from brilliant to boring is not a complicated process. All it takes is a little time, laziness, and the right circumstances. When things get difficult, it is natural for us to revert back to old behaviors. Whether trying to replicate past successes or clinging on to traditional behaviors, I have watched students host the same events, use outdated officer structures, and list repeat goals year after year. Standardizing our organizations and student experience means we lose what makes us unique, which in turn loses our members’ interest and the ability to engage our communities. If we want to succeed, we have to stop copying the work of others, stop standardizing our organizations, and start trying something new.
If boring is a barrier for our organizations, it is important to acknowledge tools for success: creativity and curiosity. Doing this is easier said than done though. So here are some techniques on how to fight boredom – by acting curiously and living creatively.
- Question every decision: No matter what you are doing, ask questions. Figure out why you are making the decisions you are and if there is a better way to accomplish the end results. Then question a bit more.
- Surround yourself with dissent: No one likes being told the opposite of what they are doing. So actively seek it out. Find people who disagree with you and are willing to share this. Ask their opinion on your work then adapt beneficial pieces.
- Learn why you failed: Failure is inevitable but our reaction to it is optional. When you fail, take time to learn what caused this letdown and use this to prevent it in the future.
- Find New Allies: Many campuses have hundreds of student organizations. There are at least five to ten groups on your campus that you’ve never worked with and probably one who has similar goals. Find these groups and build relationships with them as new partners.
- Make it Personal: If you and your members don’t care about what you’re doing, you’ll settle for mediocre. Make sure everyone involved is invested in the project at hand by engaging member’s personal interests.
- Take Risks: If we never take chances, we never learn. Figure out how to build small risks into everything you do. Treat these risks as learning opportunities.
- Embrace the Ugliness: Nothing is perfect, and our organizations or events shouldn’t try to be. There are parts of your organization that are flawed. Figure out how to accept and use these flaws if they aren’t harmful, but change them if they are destructive.
- Remove the Destructive: Creativity can’t thrive in a constantly negative environment. Remove behaviors and members that are overtly damaging. Criticism and dissent are good, but only if they can promote growth.
- Cut the Excess: More is not always better. Reevaluate your organization to figure out what positions, responsibilities, and meetings are unnecessary. Then remove them.
If we as students want to personally and organizationally impact our communities while still remaining relevant, we need to be a little more curious in our actions and more creative in our goals. It is time we stop fitting into the standardized box of student organizations, repeating the actions of years past because they worked. There is power in stepping outside the set path of the past.
Make it one of your goals this year to stop being boring. Instead, become a little more curious, a little more unique, and a lot more creative. No one will remember you or your group when everything you do is the same. Let’s stop being boring, together.
Credit // Author: Tim Mousseau