Greg lives in South Dakota and his interests include 4-Wheeling, fly-fishing, and camping.
By Greg Mumm
As many of you know, I sent out the annual fundraiser for the BlueRibbon Coalition just a couple weeks ago. Whenever I do this, I always see and read the myriad of responses we receive from people along with their donation—or no donation. Some are suggestions, some outline a particular issue they are concerned about in their area and on occasion, I get a note from a disgruntled person. Those are the hardest for me to read—one of those can spoil your whole attitude for a long time.
Let me give you an example. Last week, I read a return comment that said, "You need to do more for us in Nevada and California before I give up any more $$$."
I'll give you a list of questions and thoughts that instantly went through my head….
1) Are you kidding me? Those states are battleground states where we (and by "we" I mean both our members and our staff) are hugely involved.... Yeoman's work is being done.... Obviously thanklessly.
2) What "more" do you want us to do? Don't just send me a statement like that without an explanation—at least so I can have some idea on how and what to solve.
3) Whatever the "more" is, what are you doing about it?
I could go on but I think I've probably shared enough to make my point, which is that my immediate reactions were all defensive and negative. I feel bad about it. Even with all of the training and personal experience I have had in dealing with this sort of criticism, it took a lot of effort to get past the negative reaction and into something of value. Frankly speaking, although I do what I do because I really want to help, nothing in this comment made me want to help.
This is just one example of something we have all heard many times. Regardless of whether or not you are right in what you are saying, the wrong way to get someone—anyone—to work with you on something is to take this approach. That includes when working with volunteers, people like me whose job it is to help, people who work for you, the bureaucrat at the land managing agency, the politician and even your spouse or friend. They are all human and acting in this manner is the quickest way on the planet to get them to not help.
On a related note, it takes membership funding and other funding sources for organizations like the TLCA and the BRC to fulfill their missions. You became part of them because they were important to you. Whether through donations, getting others to join, personal involvement or a combination of any of the above, you need to support them. If you feel they are headed in a wrong direction or not doing what they should, withholding resources or simply criticizing doesn't solve the problem. Personally stepping up does solve the issue. And when you do step up, you will find out very quickly that there is a real sense of satisfaction to be had for doing the right thing.