Monthly Archives: September 2016

Leading to Failure

I know I try to stay positive where I can, but today I just need to vent. I’m getting pretty frustrated with people and I don’t know how to fix it. What frustrates is that I’m the leader in these cases and I’m not sure how to prevent certain failure if I can’t get my followers on board with what is going on. Here’s what’s up; I’m going to order these things in order of my concern/anxiety.


Contest Failure

I’m an Area Director in Toastmasters and I’m in charge of hosting an Area Contest. I’m really excited because I spent money to reserve a nice venue, order trophies and have some minor catering. The only issue is I need about 13 other people to be involved, other than the contestants. In essence, this is the judging and rules team.

I’ve spent the last 2 weeks searching for someone who can lead this team, and for volunteers to join the team, and no one has stepped up. I’ve asked specific individuals and no one can do it. They all have conflicts or else they haven’t responded back.

If I don’t get all roles filled, all my contestants get disqualified and the contest is a failure. This failure will cost me $200 of my own money, minus whatever I can recover from donations the day of the event. I’m so angry that other people have their own lives and that they can not attend this event that I’ve poured my heart into. I care, but no one else does. That’s what it boils down to.

My contest is scheduled to be held a week after I return from a week-long vacation. I’m going to have to try again when I come back. Worst case scenario, I’m going to make up my own rules on the spot and work with what I have to at least put on a façade of a contest. I could end up being judge, jury and executioner. I’d hate to break the rules and disqualify my speakers, but if I have no choice, I have no choice. Time marches on and so do I.


Vacation Failure

In 2014, I went on what I consider one of my favorite vacations ever. I drove a rental car along the south shore of Lake Superior, from Duluth to Sault Ste. Marie in Canada. It was the last week of September and the leaves were peaked. It was a canopy of color, the likes of which I had never seen before. It was a marvelously enriching experience. I wanted to take the vacation again, this time with my own car, which is a manual transmission (more fun!).

At the time, I travelled alone. On the downside, it rained the entire week in 2014. This year, I wanted to take someone with me who would really appreciate the beauty presented by nature. I chose my youngest brother, Jeremy. We are a lot alike. He is an incredible visual artist and I thought he could bring some of his watercolors, colored pencils or other art materials and become inspired and capture some of that beauty around him. We could have a bonding experience as brothers. For the first time since he was a toddler, we are living together and I want to get the chance to know him better.

That was the dream – this is the reality. After moving in back in August, he only makes cursory stops at the house. I’ve told him how much I’ve looked forward to sharing this trip with him, how I have been looking forward to taking this trip again since 2014. Now, 3 days before we leave, he is giving me short-sighted excuses as to why he can’t go. He just isn’t as committed to it as I am. He complains about not having money and needing to work, despite the fact that I’m picking up the tab for this trip and that he already has the time off of work.

He has pulled this stunt before with other people, particularly my mom and his dad. Somehow, I thought things would be different between us and that he would show some enthusiasm for getting out of town and treated to a cheap vacation for a week. This just ticks me off.

Furthermore, rain is in the forecast AGAIN. I don’t know what I’m going to do if he refuses to go. I’m probably just going to pack up into my car and leave for the week all by myself again. It just won’t be the same.


Soccer Failure

A third failure, not as critical as the others, but probably relevant nevertheless, is the failure of people attending a Sunday soccer event that I host in Minneapolis. When I originally scheduled the event, there was probably 1 or 2 other events that day. I specifically set my event up as a “Football After Football” event for people who like to watch the NFL, then go out and get some exercise after the game.

Last week’s event cancelled because no one signed up and the first week, it was a struggle to get 4 people, including myself, to show up. There are over 2,000 members in this group, so it is shocking to have so few people show up in a central, easy to get to location. Now there are 4 competing events on the same day. I don’t know what to say.


Lessons and Analysis

There is a lot that is said these days about “leadership,” but the fact of the matter is that, unless you have followers, you are not a leader. You are just somebody doing something.

These failures bring me back to the last time I was suffering a great leadership crisis and that was back when I was in college. In college, my girlfriend ran to be president of the campus radio club and I became vice president. Before becoming vice president, I was the treasurer, so I had some experience on the board of the radio. Under our tenure of the campus radio station, we could not recruit new DJs, we struggled to retain what we had, members of our board resigned with no replacements to be found. The station deteriorated to the point where, by the middle of the year, we were no longer broadcasting. We entered our tenure excited, ready to lead, but in the end we crashed and burned.

The fact is that I’m seeing the same symptoms with my pending failures this year. The root cause is that I am a leader without followers. My vision does not inspire and my enthusiasm is not contagious.

I know what I need to do. I need to motivate the people around me. I know how to do it: appeal to what they want and provide a plan. But my results ultimately rest in variables which I can not control. This means that I need to make a leap of faith, and I am an inherently cynical person. I’m struggling to avoid my prophecies of defeat from coming true.


I think my current Facebook status pretty well explains where I’m at right now-

“I’m starting to get pretty fed up with people this week. I’m continuously being placed in situations where I need to motivate and work with other people, but I’m just not getting the results I want. The ‘if you want something done, do it yourself’ mentality will only reinforce my self-centered arrogance. I just need more patience and faith to stick with these situations and not allow my anxiety to take over. I really need to fight the urge of shutting people out right now.”