Monday, May 10, 2010

The Third Year

  Our church is in the planning stages of the annual Fall Festival. This is my 3rd year as chairperson of the committee, which was given to me when I was late to my first meeting in 2007. We have had 3 committee meetings this year and have not had the entire committee together once. At the meeting last Wednesday, we only had 3 members at the meeting (myself, Monica, and her husband Eldon who gave me the broken pawn you see at the top of this web page). In years past, I’d have been really upset at such disinterest, but now I see this as the typical fruits of the 3rd year.

  When I took over the Iowa State Chess Association’s scholastic chess department in 2006, I was received with great enthusiasm. At the time, I thought it was due to my energetic and dynamic personality, but my main advantage was that I was not the last scholastic director (who many people had a lot of issues with). I made quite a few mistakes in the first year, but they were barely noticed because I was not the last guy. The second year on the job was my best work. I had learned from my mistakes, understood the technical demands of the job (scheduling, communications, etc…) and I was still not the last scholastic director. There were some small rumblings of dissatisfaction, but attendance at our tournaments was back on a upswing and I did not pay any attention to the rumblings as I was gearing up for an even more successful year ahead. In year 3, I was as technically adept as ever and attendance climbed even more, but the rumblings had turned into thunderstorms. The other IASCA tournament directors would run competing tournaments against the state scholastic events, people on one side of the state wanted to host the tournaments I had in the other side of the state and vice versa. At one tournament, trophies were awarded to the top 3 scores in each grade. When kids would tie for the third place trophy, I would award the trophy to one of the players on tiebreak and order trophies with personalized nameplates to be given to the rest of the players, instead of the normal practice of giving the tiebreak winner the trophy and saying tough luck to the rest of the kids. Even this started to backfire when the parents I was getting the trophies for would complain that their son’s trophy wasn’t the same size or had some other imperfection. I left the position after my third year and never had a chance to become as disliked as the last scholastic director.

  I’d been assembling my church newsletter for 8 years. Most months the newsletter was 4 pages, but if there were only a few submissions 2 pages would be printed. I had changed the format a couple times when asked and last year Father Jim gave me some newsletters from other churches. They all had lots of pictures and all were more than 4 pages. I mentioned that the newsletters were very nice and I could duplicate the formats if people would send me more pictures. At our March Stewardship meeting, Father Jim mentioned the last newsletter wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on, had no value for the Hispanic people of the church, and the staff was ‘pushing-back’ on even printing it. He said all this in a matter of fact way, not insulting at all, and I wasn’t insulted either. It was just a case of ‘Year 3’ coming in ‘Year 8’. I finished the April newsletter and served notice that this would be my last newsletter. I even dropped off the Stewardship committee since my main contribution to that effort was the newsletter.

  I talked with a co-worker who had been on the job for 3 years. He mentioned to me how he was feeling less included in major decisions and meetings than he used to be and he was wondering why. I told him it was just his cycle and he should look for a way to re-invent himself so he can start another cycle in the same place rather than having to switch jobs. My conclusion is that in the cycle you start by being appreciated, then taken for granted, and finally reviled for the same qualities that got you appreciated in the first place. I managed to avoid that at the job I’d had for 13 years by converting our software to new technologies so I wouldn’t be reviled along with the old technologies.

  I don’t think this year’s fall festival will be like pushing string up a hill. I am of the view point that the committee members know what needs to be done and will get on task when necessary and no earlier. All the same, I’m very happy I said in 2008 that I would only be on the planning committee for 3 years.