Nov. 24, 2020
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
While searching through some old files, I found a certificate from the NACA® New Professionals Workshop that I attended at the University of Arizona in June of 1989. It was after my first full year of being an “activities professional.” The workshop solidified my desire to pursue a career in campus activities. And while I had been active as a volunteer in NACA as a student, I also realized that I wanted to continue volunteering with our association. For those that know me, they know I am not a fan of “ice breakers.” Of course, one of the first activities at the workshop was to share with others “words of wisdom from someone that made an impact on my life.” And while others were sharing deep, meaningful, and touching tributes to people that have touched their lives, I could only think of the words my father shared with me when I was younger. “Lefty losey, righty tighty.” Not everything in life must be profound to have an impact. To say that the association has had an impact on my professional and personal life would be an understatement. Here are just a FEW things I have learned over the years:
No one knows it all, but everyone knows something. The synergistic energy that NACA exudes is truly amazing. There are hundreds of volunteers that make our regional conference happen, create and program incredible workshops, share their wisdom in publications and so much more. Synergy can be found in so many other places as well. We speak of “networking” a lot in NACA, but the benefits are real. The wisdom and knowledge is wide and deep in NACA and I feel blessed to have learned from some of the best in the business through NACA.
The impact a ripple can have on an organization is remarkable. On many occasions I have been reminded that you need to take a long look at how far and wide an impact your action may have on an organization. You truly forget how far the ripples go in the pond when you cast a stone in the middle. It isn’t always best to make a decision based on that exact moment – the decision has to be made with the future in mind.
It is not about the accomplishments; it is about your passion. I believe that my passion for campus activities and the people involved with our industry has assisted me in being a strong leader, not to mention provided the stamina for all of the travel, long meetings, goal development, strategic thinking and putting initiatives into action in our profession.
Learn from your critics but realize that you can’t please everyone. Early in my term as Chair of the Board of Directors of NACA, I made an unpopular decision. I still believe that it was a good decision and that the association benefited as a result. I learned to not shy away from conflict, I have perfected my listening skills and can articulate my position on matters that I may not agree with on with someone else.
I usually am part of a “seasoned professionals” panel discussion at our regional conference where we share thoughts and insights to less-seasoned professionals. One of the things I always talk about is creating and building on your resources and relationships. Your resources create value in you as a professional and assist you in doing your job effectively. Your relationships create that network referenced above. I have relied on my network throughout the years to help solve problems, to be a sounding board and for encouragement. Speaking of relationships, I have made lifelong friends through NACA that have been with me through many of the changes in my life. There is comfort in knowing that there is a group of people that understands what we do for a living in campus activities. To this day, I don’t think my mother really understood what it is I do for a living.
Learning is a life-long process and as always, NACA provided me with an incredible opportunity to share my skills and talents, while learning along the way. I have been fortunate to share my skills and talents through other volunteer opportunities, but none that have had the same impact that NACA has had in my life. Just like trying to describe the campus activities profession to others, NACA is somewhat ambiguous as well. But we all know the incredible impact that NACA can have on our professional and personal growth. And for that NACA, I say thank you.
Greg Diekroeger has over 32 years of volunteering experience with NACA including being a past chair of the Board of Directors and works at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Related Professional Competencies: Relationship Management, Professional Development