This week my eleven-year old daughter was on spring break and accompanied me to my law offices for two days. She was my new “associate.” On the second day, she went with me to a luncheon board meeting at The John Marshall Law School. The fact that there would be food and she could still read her Chicken Soup for the Girl’s Soul book made the prospect of this meeting more palatable to her.
On the walk there, she asked me was this one of my clubs like the Economic Club or my parish men’s club. I told her “not exactly,” and it surprised me that she was even aware of the Economic Club. She then asked me, “Why are you a member of clubs and organizations?” I explained to her that, like her club-lady paternal grandmother, I get a lot of satisfaction from joining, participating in, and contributing to organizations. I told her that it is important to connect with people and help people, that you cannot succeed and accomplish many things in life all by yourself, that no one is a self-made person and that people get help from other people along the way. It was my way of explaining the concepts of service to others and networking all rolled into one. I also pointed out that it gives one an opportunity to socialize and stay connected with other people.
At the meeting, she saw that there was an agenda, staff made presentations, and board members discussed various topics. She saw how to run a meeting. She noted that the woman sitting next to me was an architect. When it was my daughter’s turn to speak during the around-the-table introductions, at my prompting, she proudly informed the group that she wanted to become a structural engineer. She saw me and others having conversations with people after the meeting and could see that I had known some of them for many years. She could observe the old and newly made connections among the meeting participants.
My having to explain my reasons for joining clubs and serving on boards of directors gave me clarity, in the simplest terms, as to why it is meaningful to join and serve organizations. You give help, get personal gratification, and sometimes get help. It is kind of like “Chicken Soup for the Executive’s Soul.” Are you feeding your executive or professional soul?