Tuesday, July 30, 2013

One thing to do for ASAE Annual that nobody talks about

Guest Post by Sandra Giarde, CAE

By now you’ve read about what to bring to ASAE.  Your travel arrangements are all confirmed and reconfirmed. And your schedule is likely taking shape with sessions and parties identified as “must attend” and “might attend.” 

However, there’s one more thing to prepare for at ASAE and nobody talks about it. And it has to do with feelings.

Now before you scoff or brush off the suggestion while humming that classic 70’s cheese song (Feeeelings….whoa whoa whoa), just give it a thought.

The ASAE Annual Meeting can be overwhelming and that’s good because it likely means content is fresh and compelling, activities abound and ideas are running rampant like toddlers on a Red Bull high. In sessions, hallways, bars and parties you’ll hear that “your organization NEEDS to do ________” or “this (activity/program/tool/marketing plan) is very important and those who do it another way should change.”  

Of course, you’ll get advice that pertains to your actual job role where “effective ________’s do this” or “working with your team in ________  way is best” and those feelings that creep up get really personal, really fast.

I’ll admit it...this has happened to me.  I’ve been at meetings or conferences where I start to feel like a failure.  Have you been at a conference and had these type of thoughts?
  • My organization is broken.
  • I can’t do anything right.
  • Our organization can’t do anything right.
  • If we could only do what ________  organization does, things would be better.
  • We don’t allocate enough resources to ________  but allocate too many resources to ________.
  • Our culture needs to shift/change.
  • How our organization presents or does ________ is wrong.
I’ve had those feelings and they suck. They are dark and icky; like the monster that hid under your bed as a kid.  And at ASAE, those feelings might spring up within you.

But, there is hope!

It’s taken me a long time to figure out how to deal with those feelings and if you start having these thoughts, hopefully this will help you.
  • Breathe!
  • Remind yourself that you know your organization better than the speaker/colleague/vendor.
  • Remember, you do plenty of things right and you do lots of things well. If necessary, make a short list to remind you.
  • Reframe the thought: Your organization is not broken. It may need improvement in some areas but, guess what? THEY ALL DO!
  • Repeat to yourself that no person or organization gets everything right.
  • Recollect, that your organization likely does some great stuff…better than others. Remind yourself of those.
  • Mileage will vary…what worked great for one group may not fit your group’s needs, mission, culture or resources.
  • Take what you can use and leave the rest behind.
And, if all else fails, grab an association friend or mentor and talk about this. It’s amazing how just sharing will help make things better.

So, as you make your way to Atlanta remember to go forth, be your awesome self and have a great ASAE Annual Meeting Experience!

Sandra Giarde, CAE is the Executive Director for the California Association for the Education of Young Children. While she's pretty sassy, even she has Stuart Smalley days where she needs to remember "I'm good enough, smart enough and doggone it...people like me!" If you see her at the ASAE Annual Meeting, come up and say "hi!"

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