Judgement calls: How do you set your personal/community priorities?

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csc ottawa
My final presentation as chair of the Ottawa Construction Specifications Canada chapter. Association participation has incredible value when you put the organization's interests ahead of your own.
csc ottawa
My final presentation as chair of the Ottawa Construction Specifications Canada chapter

Late last night, after concluding my term as chair of the Ottawa Chapter of Construction Specifications Canada (CSC), I took some time to clear through the mass of emails that had arrived during the day and needed to be processed. The spam-control system developed a few days earlier using Gmail as a conduit had failed, not from stopping the spam, but from a glitch that gummed up my outbound emails.

Searching through the convoluted email account details, I finally discovered the problem — one place where instead of entering buckshon@(domain) as my user ID, I had just entered “buckshon”. Sometimes the failure to observe little details can cause big havoc.

Sonia zouari
New CSC Ottawa chapter chair Sonia Zouari

The email problem had to take back-seat to the transitional task in preparing for the CSC annual chapter meeting. Among other tasks, I needed to order food for 20 people and obtain a gift for a departing chapter director. Detailed tasks involving some run-around and small-issue decision-making; absolutely unrelated to the day-to-day (or even more significant from a management level) executive leadership for this business.

We can talk a lot about delegation, co-ordination and planning, and I get it — so maybe yesterday was a fail — but in the end, everything that needed to be done was done, and I cleared the inbound email box.

During the meeting earlier in the evening, there was some wonderful dialogue about membership participation/commitment, and what it takes to encourage indviduals to become more involved. I and incoming chair Sonia Zouari reminded the gathering that the value of volunteerism within associations both for personal satisfaction and practical business development can far exceed the cost — if you go at it without expecting any return on your investment.

One participant, long-established in the industry, pointed out that the concept of contributing may be good, but won’t take you far with younger people. He said he has encouraged junior sales employees/technical reps to take advantage of the CSC certification program, but they won’t consider doing anything outside of (paid) business hours. The thought of taking courses — or worse, volunteering for association leadership activities — outside of paid time at work is beyond these employees.

Yet, at meeting’s end, at least one person stepped up and said she would be happy to volunteer with the chapter executive and there were other interesting connections and developments.

Perhaps millennials and other younger people have the correct attitude towards voluntary work and community service, especially when they are thinking about their families and work-life balance and these challenges can be especially significant for younger families when child-time truly has great importance. Nevertheless, the time commitment for voluntary contributions doesn’t need to be onerous and can often be melded into your schedules.

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