So yes, I am still in shock at the fact that I am actually a CU Water Cooler Editor. This title was given to me at the CU Water Cooler Symposium that was held in Nashville in October. How did I win such a prestigious role you ask? I won a scavenger hunt. That’s right, my unwavering ability to willingly make a complete fool out of myself in front of a city full of strangers landed me this awesome gig.
(Take that countless teachers, bosses, authority figures who told me my “class-clown” ways wouldn’t get me anywhere in life. I say to you, HA!)
Participating in this scavenger hunt took guts. Yes, I am an outgoing and competitive person but the possibility of the unknown is always daunting. I made the decision that I was going to win. I was going to do what it took no matter how ridiculous it seemed so that I could achieve something that I wanted.
Here’s what I learned from this adventure:
- Take a chance – I could have sat in my hotel, watched TV and ordered room service. That act in itself would have been a win in my book because my typical evening involves wrangling a very energetic two-year-old, convincing her that vegetables taste good and she should want to eat them, wrestling her into a bathtub and then getting her to bed. The thought of sitting, feet propped in a quiet room all by myself was very enticing. But that was easy. I wanted to win, remember? I had to take a chance. I had to decide that giving up what was comfortable was worth the possibility of winning a cool prize.
- Be willing to fail – This event was attended by a couple hundred people with the same opportunity, so I also had to be willing to do it all or nothing. I had to assume that everyone else was going to outperform me by wasting away, I mean, spending their evening at this competition.
- Be able to adapt – You don’t win any contest by staring blankly at a wall while others around you participate. It’s not every night that I find myself belting out Carrie Underwood at a karaoke bar for 100 points and talking a band into letting me perform with them on stage for 250 points. (For the record, both of those should have counted for way more points.) I don’t typically walk up to strangers and ask if I can take pictures with them, or stage kung fu fights on the sidewalk. Typically I would be the one urging someone on to their demise, not volunteering to do it myself. I knew I had to adapt.
- Sometimes you need a little help – I definitely did not win this by myself. Part of me thinks my new friends might have just wanted to have a few drinks and laugh at me, but it worked. My excitement and willingness to participate sparked the fun. As each new task was checked off the list, their enthusiasm to help me succeed followed. Together we looked for ways to score more points, working as a team to bring me to victory. I can guarantee you two things. They had just as much fun, if not more, than I did and I would not have been able to do it without them. There have been several postings on this site about the cooperative nature of credit unions so I won’t spend much more time driving that home. All I’m going to say is what a group of people can accomplish together can be impressive. So you might want to try it sometime. (A special shout out to my posse – Kristie Wolff, Jenny Bulgrien, Kent Dicken, Vince Hodges, Sara Hubble, Dawn Collins and Gene Blishen. All of this would not have been possible without you, and I want you to know how much I appreciate your help.)
Is there an underlying message in that for credit unions or maybe just for us as individuals? Maybe the answer is no, but maybe we can look at what it takes to win, and apply those principles to what we do on a daily basis. Are we as credit unions doing the same old thing we always do and expecting different results? Are there new, innovative things we can try that are a little outside our comfort zone? How can we adapt to better serve our members, our staff, or our credit union as a whole? What is something in your day-to-day (at your credit union or just in life) that you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t? Why not? What’s the worst that could happen? If the pros outweigh the cons, I say go for it. You might win!
Personally, I’d encourage all of you to try something new. Take a chance. You never know what will happen. It might challenge you more than you ever thought possible, it might teach you something, and it might intimidate and scare you to death. Plus the result might even be something completely different than what you were expecting. For example, I just wanted to win a ticket to SXSW, and instead I am on this journey with you as a CU Water Cooler editor!
I’m planning on enjoying the ride and I hope you do too.
Amy Etheridge lives in Warner Robins, Georgia. She is the Electronic Marketing Coordinator at Robins Federal Credit Union. Amy started her credit union career 10 years ago as a teller, worked in branch operations, and has found her calling in the marketing department. The thoughts posted here are her own, and do not reflect those of her employer.