Proust Questionnaire Number Fourteen

Proust Quote:
“The bonds that unite another person to our self exist only in our mind.”

Confessions Question:
Your idea of misery.

Confidences Question:
What would be my greatest misfortune?

Proust’s Answer:
Not to have known my mother or grandmother.

I once stated that the greatest misery is waiting for something to happen and the greatest happiness is when that thing happens. Therefore I think the best way to answer this question is to think of what didn’t cause me the greatest depth of misery this year, but what caused me the longest length of misery.

Or what was my greatest mistake in 2009?

To answer this question with one hundred percent honesty my greatest mistake is the same as it has been probably every year of my life. My inability to see and act on what is plainly in front of me. This year that inability lead to a huge mistake, but that mistake is one that I feel that I have been able to correct, more or less.

The mistake that caused me the longest stretch of misery was actually a mistake I made in 2008. I wasn’t sure how much detail I would go into on this mistake. It is dependent on how deep into the well of bitterness I wanted to go.

However, of all the people I know that should actually loathe the organization that I could easily eviscerate with but a drop of that bitterness, is worried about what I will write. She doesn’t want people to think poorly of this organization that she still loves.

Therefore, I will dial the bile back and just keep this simple and short. I will not go into detail about broken federal tax laws, lies, cover-ups, recriminations and witch trials. I will skate around the edges.

The greatest mistake I made in 2009 was joining the board of a community organization.

This organization exists (at least it is my understanding) to help people gain leadership skills. In essence, it is supposed to be a self improvement organization that does this through community service projects.

Self-improvement did not appeal to me. I belong to the Tyler Durden school of thought on self improvement.

I’m not in the need of enhancing my leadership skills. Running small projects isn’t that interesting when you’ve run a million dollar business. Writing a CPG is somewhat of a joke after you’ve written actual business plans.

However, I was interested in community service. In fact, I would even say that I was happy in the organization until I joined the Board. In the 3 months I spent on the Board, I witnessed backstabbing, political maneuvering and the most ridiculous turf war I have ever witnessed in my life.

In short, it amazed me what I learned that one human being is willing to do to another human being to protect their small piece of the absolute insignificant part of a power structure for an organization that has 50 members and a budget well under $50,00.

Not that this organization isn’t significant, but to quote George Bailey, “In the whole vast configuration of things, I’d say (it) is nothing but a scurvy little spider.”

In essence there is nothing in this organization that is anywhere near important enough to treat people the way that I witnessed people being treated.

After 3 months on the Board I quit. I can’t stand quitting. It is something that runs contrary to the fiber of my being. But sometimes, you have to cut your losses and that is what I did. The Board had broken into 2 factions and the side that I was sitting on had all quit. All of my “allies” were much more passionate about the organization than I was ever going to be and if they weren’t really willing to fight for it, then somebody of my nominal interest surely wasn’t going to stick around.

But I did stick around the organization for the rest of the year to fulfill some of my obligations. In this time I have come to realize that there isn’t really much community service being done by the organization. At least not in the way that I see it. There is a lot of begging other people for money so that they can turn around and give that money to another organization that actually helps people. I don’t like begging people for money. Raise money in an honest way and then give the money to the people that actually help other people.

Although my faith in humanity was slightly shaken (I still really can’t believe that people would act so heinously to protect something that is so insignificant.) I have decided to make my community service contributions to the world through my church. I will be the Vice President of the Methodist Men for 2010. I have been promised this job has no responsibilities whatsoever.

I figure that if I concentrate my activities on a Christ-centered organization there will be more concentration on actually helping people and less effort to worry about anybody’s 3 inches of turf.

That is not to say that I consider my entire time in the organization a waste. Even though I am saddened to think about how much time I wasted on fruitless endeavors in 2009 (I’ve taken steps to correct that in 2010) I definitely met some incredible and wonderful people through the organization. I hope to continue some of those relationships from outside the organization.

2 thoughts on “Proust Questionnaire Number Fourteen”

  1. I absolutely love that you took a stand (and quitting IS a stand). Hopefully the mass exodus of active board members brings about some level of self-realization. Sadly, that's probably overly optimistic.

  2. This all happened about 9 months ago. It brought about some changes, but it wasn't until some philandering was discovered that people realized that certain people were douchers, but they realized it late in the game and for the wrong reasons.

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