It Usually Ends Up With a Camel

Ink on Pastel Paper – Words: Sir Barnett Cocks

If you have ever had the blessing and curse to serve on a committee, you know how true this quote explains that process. I have had the joy and pain of serving and leading small groups through the problem solving process a committee provides to various ends. I do not think you have ever had your leadership skills and patience tested as they will be tested when you serve on a committee.

My favorite example of a committee, and where I learned the most, was having to lead through the process of redecorating the corporate kitchen/ lounge area. You have never lived or lead until you have to get fifteen women to agree on the color of carpet. The conversations, the circles, the endless changing of minds and the patience it took for me to get them all to agree was fantastic, frustrating and fruitful in the end. I am not sure it was the best use of my talents, but I was asked/told to do it, so I did. I often look back on those months with fond turmoil knowing that it made me a better leader and listener.

Since then I have had many, many more committee experiences. Sometimes I was the leader and other times I was the follower, which can be just as trying when nothing is happening. Life would be so much easier if we could just do everything ourselves or force people to do it our way. But that would be communism and I prefer to give people free will, free choice and the ability to speak their minds. It may take longer, yet in the end when women who have all agreed on the carpet and paint colors walk into the newly renovated space the smiles on their faces are priceless.

Now when I am asked to serve on a committee, which still happens, I ask what the goal is, the timeline and what happens if nothing gets done. I either get blank stares or am asked to chair the group…either way I am very discriminating when and how I serve. Like I said, if you want to learn to lead, join a committee. It will be frustrating, infuriating and the most anxiety ridden leadership school you will ever attend. If you are willing to suffer through it no problem you face with a group will ever flummox you again. Tread lightly, the best committee for putting together a horse usually ends up with a camel.

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