There's a line in one of my fraternity's old songs that claims that Alpha Sigma Phi is “Better Than The Rest!” No doubt your fraternity or sorority has a similar line in one of its songs, chants or cheers. As an organization, we cling onto that line and we truly try to believe it. I think most of my brothers around the country would claim that their chapter is truly “better than the rest” of the organizations on their campus.
Of course, from having spoken to members of nearly every inter/national fraternity and sorority, I know that almost ALL members will claim that their chapter has the tightest bonds of brother/sisterhood, and they're the coolest people on campus, but that's beside the point.
Whenever I'm consulting with one of my undergraduate brothers, I’ll ask them how much it matters to them that they're better than the rest. They’ll usually respond that it is important, and that they truly believe that statement. Then, I’ll go on to ask them what they think their chapter's founding brothers wanted more than anything when they founded the chapter. You know what the answer always is?
“We started our chapter to be DIFFERENT and BETTER than all the other chapters on this campus. We started because our founders weren't satisfied with all the frats here, and we knew we could be different and better than all of them.”
Does that sound familiar to you? Is that why your chapter was founded? For that matter, is that why your inter/national organization was founded? (That's why my fraternity was founded 161 years ago at Yale University, and I’ll bet yours has a similar story).
If you were founded to be different and better… In fact, if you still believe that your chapter can and should be different and better than the rest of the chapters on your campus… I have one question for you.
Why do you recruit just like the other chapters on your campus?
If you want to be different, you've got to be different. If you want to be better, you can't just modify an already lackluster modus operandi and expect dramatically different and better results. You have to DO THINGS dramatically different and better. This is especially true for recruitment — the one task that leads to almost all of the results your chapter achieves.
Evaluate your recruitment practices. Look for anything that looks similar to what the other chapters on your campus are doing. Once you've identified those things, promise never to do them again. You already know that they don't work that well. You already know the results you’ll continue to get if you keep doing them. Literally stop doing the same stuff the other chapters on your campus are doing.
If you want to be different, be different. If you want to be better, don't do what they do — be remarkable.
I learned this lesson from working with new interest groups and colonies when I was Director of Expansion for my national office. I’d watch a small group of guys who were determined to be different and better quickly meld into mediocrity by assuming that they had to do things (especially recruitment) similarly to the way other chapters were. It is our nature to just mimic what we see around us, but if we want to be GREAT, we have to give up being GOOD.
Be different. Be better. Be great.