Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Grace Under Fire

Last week at work, a colleague asked if I would be interested in serving on the board of a non-profit agency in town. I brilliantly answered, Uh…hmmmm…what? before looking behind me to see who she was really talking to. I am not kidding; I figured she could not be talking to me even though the only thing behind me was a table full of bagels and other breakfast goodies.

This seems to be a habit for me. When unexpected questions arise, I tend to go blank. For example, when SRH proposed, I gave a rousing, “Uh, yeah” for an answer. This was AFTER he repeated the question, since I gave absolutely no response to his first query. Anyway, I’m not comparing my colleague’s question to my proposal from SRH, but my responses were equally grace-less.

So my colleague says, “Okay, Zany Mama, let’s try this again. Do you think you’d be interested in serving on Agency XYZ’s board?”

Me (grabbing up my dignity which had fallen down around my ankles): Absolutely. I think that would be great. Just let me know what I need to do.

I’d like to tell you that I was having witty thoughts in my head like, Sure I’ll run your agency into the ground if you’d like Or Be careful what you wish for - accompanied by a wicked grin.

I even wish I could tell you I was having confident thoughts like, Gee, this will be a new challenge for me. I’ve never been on a board before.

But really, the thoughts were along the lines of uh…hmmm…what…okay, Zany Mama, pull it together...I should say something very positive now…okay…absolutely….that would be great?...get rid of the question in your voice…that would be great….buy time here…just let me know what I need to do…

I mean, there are women who seem like they should be on boards. They are confident, knowledgeable, and generally can balance a checkbook. Some days I feel pretty confident – we can thank the new glasses for that. I am certainly knowledgeable about some topics. However, those topics tend to be things like food allergies and asthma, who’s shacking up with whom in the celebrity world, and why men hit women. None of which comes in that handy on a typical non-profit board – unless it’s the board of a domestic violence shelter. I’d be wiz-bang at that.

I should also mention that I have never been able to successfully balance our checkbook. SRH was a math major, but we still enlist the aid of my mother about twice a year to tell us exactly where we are money-wise. She’s an accountant and can do it in about 10 seconds flat, so I prefer not to make the effort. So I guess we can add lazy to my list of attributes. Yes, indeed, I’m shaping up to be a star board member.

Moving on, I’m now invited to this agency’s fundraiser tomorrow to get more information about the organization. Let’s be clear, the stated goal is that I’ll get to learn more about the agency, but I’m clearly going to be judged by other board members to determine my fitness to serve.

I figure my personal sales pitch can go something like, Yes, I’m really interested in serving on the board. What qualities do I bring? I’m enthusiastic, energetic, sleep deprived, and overscheduled. I will work hard when I’m passionate about a subject, but don’t ask me to raise funds, because I don’t know anyone with money. Well, I may know them, but they aren’t going to give me any. My particular area of expertise is working with women who are experiencing violence. I’m sure I’ll bring up that happy topic at every board meeting.

I’m a shoe in.

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