Sunday, October 15, 2006

Las Vegas - Fear and Intimidation

I won. I walked out of the casino having won more money than I lost. How many people have achieved that? The lavish building spree and booming economy of Las Vegas indicate I'm a rarity.

The blog silence this week has been due to a trip to Las Vegas to attend a nonprofit's convention. Met tons of nice people working on important causes and improving the lives of some of the people most in need of help. Met a young man who has emerged from deep, dark, angry autism.

I learned a lot, which was oddly frustrating. "As the circle of my knowledge grows, so does the circumference of my ignorance."

Here's an oddity of the nonprofit world - board members are, by and large, relatively ignorant of the field they are in, while the people they employ should to be at the top of the field. But the responsibility for setting the direction and making the strategic decisions for the organization rests with the board. The success of the organization, the continuation of the organization's legacy, and, ultimately, the help given to children and families - real people, with real needs - is in the hands of a bunch of people with relatively little knowledge and, occasionally, a casual, social sense of responsibility.

When I joined this board, I was flattered to be asked, and I thought I'd like to be involved with helping kids. The shallowness of it all is astounding. Who wouldn't support helping children and their families, when that really only seems to mean showing up to a monthly meeting and doing some very light work on a committee? Who wouldn't like to have their name on a letterhead among some impressive names?

Now I'm involved with a board responsible for making decisions that really matter to staff, families, kids and the people who have handed the legacy of the organization to us.

I mentioned above that I won in Las Vegas. I should clarify - I put $2 in, and walked out with $2.25. It was mildly fun. I would never be able to enjoy gambling with amounts that would really matter to me and those who depend on me. I would feel fear and intimidation - I would feel in over my head.

But, put in that situation, I would play as well as I could, control what I can control, get whatever advice I felt I could trust, not cheat, and hope for the best.


Anonymous travelingal said...

Once I was asked to take over management of a department I was not qualified to manage. I declined the offer to the astonishment of the CEO who thought "management" was the key, not knowledge of the department. I totally disagree ... an MBA doesn't mean you can walk on water.

Glad there is one board with someone who is an expert on the subject at hand... Dan

10/15/2006 7:28 PM  
Blogger Brian Stayton said...

"As the circle of my knowledge grows, so does the circumference of my ignorance."
That's beautiful, man. (Original?) Mind if I quote it sometime?
Well-phrased, really.

10/15/2006 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it."


10/16/2006 12:20 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Thank you, anonymous. After Brian's comment, I went back and put quotes around it, but hadn't found who originated it.

10/16/2006 6:00 AM  

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