June 12, 2008

#7: Playing to Your Strengths

So I am a TV buff - I watch a lot of it, and have a great deal of favorite shows. They range from comedy to drama to reality. Why am I telling you this, you might be asking?

Last night, while I was watching Top Chef, one of the contestants said something that I thought was quite interesting and very applicable to our work in Associations. He said that what a lot of people don't understand about Top Chef is that you have to take the challenge and bend it to your strengths. He said that too many people change their whole philosophy to meet the challenge that is presented to them rather than using their strengths to overcome the challenge.

As I thought about that statement, I came to the conclusion that there were a great deal of practical applications to our work.

We face challenges everyday, including in our component relations work, volunteer management, communications work, legal work, member services work, and as executives. My opinion is that it is how we handle those challenges and bend them to our stengths that determines whether our organizations are successful.

Over the past year or so, the publication of our organization was restructured and its mission was changed to fit more into the mission of the organization. In the past, it shared a lot of information about the organization, and provided information about our components written by them.

The challenge: how could we change the mission of the publication without totally making our members upset that it wasn't the same as it had been for nearly 100 years? One of our biggest strengths is that we are committed to our mission, and driven to achieve it on a daily basis.

Since the publication wasn't aligning to our mission as it was structured, and in order for it to align more appropriately, the organization's leadership realized that it needed to include more compelling stories that educated, inspired and entertained the members.

So, we met the challenge by utilizing the strengths that we possessed as staff members to write compelling stories that educated, inspired and entertained our members in areas that they could use in their day to day lives, thus aligning our publication perfectly with our organization's mission.

Since the realignment of the publication to meet the challenge that the organization faced, we have received a GREAT deal of very positive feedback, and we have been able to push the organization's mission much more easily without really putting it in the members' face over and over.

They are getting it, and it's because we were able to bend the challenge to our strengths and meet that challenge by doing so.

While we DID change what we were doing to meet the challenge, we really utilized our strengths as writers and as an organization that adheres to its mission to meet the challenge that was in front of us (i.e. we bent the challenge to our strengths.) I think this fits in well to what my favorite Top Chef said last night on the show...

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