Once upon a time, a farmer gave each of his three sons a baby mule and a plot of land. Years later the three brothers sat together discussing the lazy, stubborn disposition of their animals. The first brother said, “I got so fed up, I bought a whip and beat my mule until he obeyed me.” The second brother cried, “I tried the whip, but learned that dangling a carrot in front of him was slightly more effective.” The youngest brother calmly interrupted and said, “I use neither the whip nor the carrot and enjoy pleasant rides to and from the marketplace.”
“HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE,” cried the elder brothers! “I traded my mule for a horse.”
There are two types of members in every chapter – horses and mules. Horses are the people who do the work. Mules are the ones who don’t. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably a horse. Congratulations. It probably also means that you’re a leader, too, which means it’s likely that you experience a lot of pain from your mules. You’re chapter is filled with a bunch of members who just don’t seem to care: They don’t show up to things – and when they do they’re grumpy about it and sit in the back of the room complaining to each other the whole time.
You – and your fellow leader friends – are really good at “carrot” and “sticking” your members. You push and pull and beg and plead and bribe and punish them to attempt to get them to do things they don’t inherently want to do. You feel like you are banging your head against a wall over and over and over again. For some reason, no matter how hard you try, you can seem to get them – your mules – to care.
We’ve often said, “Gather your horses and get to work.” Meaning don’t worry about your mules, gather your already motivated members together and start getting work done. That’s not always an easy task – especially in recruitment. But it’s important – after all mules only recruit more mules. So “gather your horses,” yes, but if you’re willing to try, let’s allow our mules to try out the horse barn for a while. So how do you change a mule’s mind? How do you get a mule to care?
Get them to care about you.
Yep. It’s really that simple. All you have to do to turn a mule into a horse is to build a relationship with them because people don’t care about your cause, until they care about you. When your mules are invested in you, they’ll invest in supporting your projects, the events you’re in charge of, the committee you’re running, or anything you might ask them to do. They’ll care about that stuff because they care about you. Your ability to lead your chapter or your specific role in your chapter is greatly dependent on your ability to connect with the members.
Mules only care about stuff when they want to. If they care about you – they’ll work to help you in any way they can.
The only way to turn a mule into a horse is to make them your friend. So make a list of 5 members that you need on your side – ask them to coffee, sit with them at lunch, hang out – learn about them, build a relationship with them…
And stop banging your head against a wall.