The person who takes on the role of a community association board member is a special individual with many different motivations. There are the public-spirited, the single-minded, the power-seeker, and those that are there because their spouse encouraged them. If you are familiar with the stories told at the Jewish Passover Seder, you might see a remarkable resemblance to the parable of the four sons: the wise, the wicked, the simple and the one who doesn’t understand enough to even ask a question. I will leave the comparisons to you. While there are several different motivating factors, there is one trait that is shared by all. It’s a kind of willingness to step out there and be all you can be, to borrow a phrase or two.
Sitting on the board puts you in a position of risk, power, responsibility and visibility that singles you out as a “player” in this world. You are willing to take risks, take action, and take responsibility. You see the value of being a part of what is happening rather than being a bystander, a part of the silent majority. You are willing to get out on the dance floor and do your best. When you’re on the dance floor you’ve got to move your feet. As long as you’re moving your feet, you’re participating and learning and contributing. You get better as the months pass and then you begin to lead. You make a mistake or two and the passage of time makes it alright. Sometimes it takes a few more ticks of the clock than other times, but then there’s always the Chubb D&O policy to fall back on. Take the lead and dance like nobody’s watching. Feel the pleasure of working with a group of public spirited neighbors trying to do the right thing for the community. Feel the pride and pleasure when things go right. Don’t look for neighborly thank yous. The reward comes from inside. Nobody really is watching, just your compadres across the boardroom table who shares the same risks and rewards as you.
Put your full feelings into the job, and do the right thing. Do that which will allow you to sleep at night. You are Solomon, Judge Ito, and Andrew Jackson. They’ll love you or hate you regardless of how careful, so make your decisions and go forward. Recognize that this temporary situation you find yourself in is a unique opportunity to have a significant impact on your community’s lifestyle, your neighbors’ well-being, and most importantly, your own sense of self-esteem and self worth. Don’t leave anything on the table. Don’t look back with “shoulda, coulda, woulda”. Do what you believe is best and live with the consequences. You’ll be right most of the time, and the miscues will resolve themselves. Love like it will never hurt.