“Oh, God. They did it. They actually voted me in.” This is what you’re thinking. Sure, you’re excited, but whoa, the weight of the responsibility of the position—ah jeez, the work—is starting to bear down on you. You think of your current course load, the assignments you have coming up, and suddenly you start forgetting birthdays as you jumble up what’s coming in the next weeks. You get a cup of Starbucks to help you think straight, but now you’re just jittery and anxious. The officer you’re replacing contacts you to congratulate you and you almost throw up. You’re ready, but you don’t feel like it. This is all too much.
First, take a deep breath and calm down. Here’s a mint. It’s cucumber watermelon, your favorite. Now, after you’ve done your proper woo-sahs, let’s take a few steps back and get organized. Although taking on a new fraternity officer position can be challenging and anxiety-inducing, it can also be fun. The key is to understand your role within the chapter, and the role with your position and take things in stride. Is that a little cryptic? Perhaps. Fine, let’s get a bit more direct.
For your benefit, OmegaFi is here to keep it simple and oh-so-real: So You’re a New Fraternity Officer: 5 Lessons to Keep You Sane.
5. Your Role Is Important, but It’s Okay to Delegate
Let’s start with the obvious: Yes, your role is important. Whether you’re a committee member or an executive officer, your role exists for a reason, meaning that whatever function it entails is vital to the organization. So, given this obvious truth, take your role seriously, but understand that your success within the position will not save the world. In short, you don’t have to do everything yourself if your responsibilities become taxing, or simply put, you’ve got to focus a bit on school or an upcoming exam. The sign of a true leader is trusting their staff well enough to delegate effectively, so delegate often and with confidence.
4. Failure Is the Best Teacher
Nobody likes to fail. Fundamentally it’s a setback, and it doesn’t feel too great either. However, what cannot be stressed enough is that failure is inevitable no matter what you do. No one, and I’ll reiterate no one here is exempt from it. In fact, if you take a look at all your favorite business executives, leaders, and success stories, you’ll be pained not to find multiple examples of initial failures and setbacks. Further still, failure in most of these cases was the defining factor that taught these individuals a crucial lesson on perseverance, decision-making, and achievement through will. We say all this to hammer in the fact that within your role as a new fraternity officer, something at some point will go wrong, and yes, you will eventually fail in some way, shape or form. The takeaway, however, is that’s okay. Embrace it and learn from it, as it is inextricably tied to your growth as a leader and as an individual.
3. Preparation Is Key, but Life Is Unpredictable
The best laid plans are a good start, but chaos is often unpredictable. As you begin to transition into your role as a new fraternity officer, reaching out to your predecessor and gaining insight into the weak points of the organization, and tactics that were both successful and unsuccessful at addressing them, it’s important to understand that sometimes things happen that are outside of your control. For example, if you’re the chapter treasurer and your goal is to bring the chapter out of a deficit and build up a solid surplus that may be a great and worthy goal. For argument’s sake, let’s say that halfway through the year you’re close to accomplishing that goal, you’ve revolutionized the dues collection process by using a digital finance manager (like OmegaFi) and things are running smoothly. However, the unfortunate happens and during a social event, your brothers launch an indoor rocket in the fraternity house and put a hole in the roof (it happens). Now your chapter’s treasury has to absorb a couple thousand dollars in damages, and there goes your surplus. This may be an extreme example, but the point is to recognize that sometimes we can’t predict everything and that unpredictable element may ultimately affect our goals.
2. Do What You Can, but Change Takes Time
Similar to the entry above, understanding that sometimes our lofty goals may not come out exactly as planned is imperative to understand when coming into a new fraternity officer position. Let’s use a recent example. Barack Obama came into office with incredibly large goals. He wanted to completely reconstruct the economy into one that favored the poor and middle class over the top 1% who had found themselves at the end of a wealth inequality gap so large the worlds between rich and poor seemed dystopian. In eight years, Obama was able to accomplish a lot, reducing the unemployment rate, adding millions of jobs to the country’s economy and rewriting the rules on federal banking, but it was still a far cry from where he wanted to end up. The problem? Time. Change takes time—especially if it’s meant to last. With that said, within your fraternity, you may come into your role with a clear platform and a method of execution, but like the world, your fraternity won’t change in a day. In fact, dramatic change will be hard to see in a year. So continue to set high goals, shoot for the moon, and be content with landing somewhere in the stars.
1. Give Yourself a Break
Like the famed Kit-Kat commercial has always implored: Give yourself a break. It is fundamentally imperative to managing work-life balance. As we’ve mentioned before, create time to relax within a busy schedule, even if it’s literally writing in time to sit down and watch 30 minutes to an hour of TV. Muscles can break down if overused, and when they do they need time to rest and heal. Your brain is no different. If you spend its energies working on end without stop, its output (your cognitive function) will eventually slow to a crawl. So give it a rest. This doesn’t necessarily mean watching TV, but for those who’d like to distract themselves while feeling a bit more productive, this can mean reading a book, coloring, or watching an informative video on Youtube. The key is to separate your mind—even if briefly—from the task at hand.
If you’ve got some tips for new fraternity officers to keep their sanity intact, let us know in the comments below!