Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat

As Director of IGNITE, I sit on many committees and boards. Most of the time, the position helps me to grow as an individual, grow my contacts for IGNITE and help spread the mission of IGNITE. Usually I’m very thankful for the position and actually enjoy the work I get to do with various organizations. Every now and then, however, things don’t go quite as smoothly.

Recently, I found myself on a committee that was headed down a path I wasn’t completely comfortable with. I had serious objections to some accounting practices that were in place and some of the motives behind decisions that were being made. I was at a crossroads. Do I speak up and risk getting steamrolled and perhaps make some enemies or do I sit there quietly?

I spoke up… and got steamrolled.

The other committee members I was asking questions to basically shot me down and were some what professional “bullies”. I quickly realized that no matter my thoughts, things would not be changed for this year. My speaking up really made no difference but I at least felt better that I said something.

As I was sitting through the rest of the meeting, I found myself wishing I was 55. I thought people would take my concerns, my points and my issues with more validity. It seemed my age was part of the “problem” with my opinions. What could I possibly know – I was only a kid! The entire experience was extremely frustrating and I now know that there is no way I can contribute to next year’s plans without some serious re-evaluation on how things are run. In the end, many other committee members shared my views but after the way I was treated, found no reason to express much of an opinion because they knew it would fall on deaf ears. They were defeated from the get-go. The “bullies” got their way and many committee members have now said they will never be involved again.

So what’s my point? Sometimes people tell you to sit down because you’re rocking the boat. You’re too young, you haven’t been on the committee long enough and your ideas challenge what’s been done for years. You know what I say?? Dance around on that boat!! Make the biggest splash you possibly can! Now, do this in the most professional way possible. Don’t burn bridges and don’t be disrespectful. Do speak up though when things aren’t right, you are uncomfortable with a situation or you have a way to change the game for the better. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too young to make a difference or have a good idea.

Looking back, I wish I would have made more of splash. I didn’t say nearly as much as I would have liked purely out of fear of rocking the boat. Looking back, I wish I would have rocked that boat to no end but live and learn. Now, I leave you with one of my favorite songs from the musical “Guys and Dolls” called “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat.” Now when I hear this song, it cracks me up and I play it in my head while tuning out all those telling me to sit down.

Rock that boat, young professionals, rock that boat!



~ by caitlinludwig on December 8, 2010.

One Response to “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat”

  1. Ditto, ditto, ditto on your whole post. I’m struggling with giving up because I hate to do that – I feel that I need to fight for the small victories and work to change the committee for the better. At the same time, there are a hundred causes and committees for which I want to volunteer my time, and I can’t justify the time commitment.

    Have I mentioned how much I love you? Because I do – Guys and Dolls is one of my FAVORITE.MOVIES.EVER.

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