If you are active in your ASSE chapter/section, region, area or practice specialty, or at the Society level, you can probably quickly recite a long list of benefits you receive as a result of your ASSE membership. That’s because you have learned firsthand what you gain simply by participating in this fine organization.
Over the years of my involvement, I’ve heard and said many times that the more you participate, the more you gain. Why do you think that is? What is it that ASSE offers its members?
The standard response to that question includes professional development, networking, recognition and leadership opportunities that help our members succeed professionally and personally. And all of those are certainly true. But what is it that causes the response, “the more you give, the more you get”? I think Robert Greenleaf summed it up well in his essay, “The Servant as Leader.” He wrote:
The servant-leader is servant first. . . . Becoming a servant-leader begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first. . . . The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant first to make sure other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and the most difficult to administer, is this: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?
I believe Greenleaf’s philosophy reflects well why we benefit from participating in ASSE. It is because our greatest desire is to contribute to the benefit of the whole organization. ASSE is a member-driven association. Not only does the Society exist for members, but it is run by members. Last June, we held a wonderful discussion in the House of Delegates (HOD) meeting about the role of the HOD and the governance of ASSE. The voice of the membership will direct how the Society changes as we move forward. We, as members, determine the needs of the Society and the direction it will take. This is not to say that every member will agree with each action or activity pursued. In fact, Society leaders must sometimes make tough decisions based on a wide variety of information. But every decision is made with the best interest—and the voice—of members in mind.
Being member-driven carries some challenges, one of which is engaging members to participate. Some parts of our organization struggle to find the volunteers necessary to drive the activities they wish to pursue. As members, we provide the horsepower that drives task forces, committees, chapters, regions and ASSE as a whole. I urge all of you to consider giving some small part of your time this year to contribute to ASSE. In serving the Society, you set an example for others. And, by getting involved, I know you will feel the same sense of gratitude that I do for this wonderful opportunity to contribute to our profession, our professionals, our organization and our society as a whole.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”