You’re Stressed Out, Man!

By Taylor Deer

When recruitment comes along, do you feel overwhelmed? Tired? Exhausted? Counting down the seconds until it ends? Feeling like you will never want to talk to another dude ever again?

You’re stressed out, man.

To me this is an indicator that you are doing it wrong. Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you feel stressed, your body releases certain hormones which activate you to prepare for emergency action. Only certain things provoke our bodies to respond in this way. Sometimes stress can come from external sources like a long day in class or an upcoming exam. Other times stress comes from within. The main causes of internal stress according to WebMD are: fear, uncertainty , attitudes and perceptions of others, unrealistic expectations, and change. I laughed out loud as soon as I read through these because each one of them is absolutely present in our current recruitment processes. Frankly, it all stems from our mindset about recruitment. Right now we say things like:

  • We have to plan “The ________ Party”
  • We have to get 35 dudes
  • We have to use the same events as last year
  • We have to smile
  • We have to tell funny drunken stories, and somehow tie it back to leadership
  • We have to dress up
  • We have to pretend we don’t care if they go check out another chapter
  • We have to memorize our values
  • We have to convince and persuade
  • We have to channel our inner used car salesmen
  • We have to hide our weaknesses
  • We have to table for two weeks
  • We have to sell our fraternity
  • We have to plan another bbq
  • We have to wear letters on certain days
  • We have to stay up all night spray painting and hanging posters… And the list goes on.

Negative stress comes from something forcing us to do things we don’t want to do. For fraternity men that “something” is mostly self perpetuated. Its was a theory that the previous generation of men before you created. You may feel bound out of obligation to uphold those traditions no matter how ridiculous they are.

Ideally we should all create a system that our current membership believes in. A system where we move away from causing stress, and begin to invoke eustress.

What is eustress?

Have you ever stayed up all night to finish a book that was so good you just couldn’t put it down? Have you ever pushed yourself beyond your limit to run farther than you’ve ever gone? Have you ever spent hours hunched over a piano playing the same part over and over so you could master the song? That is eustress.

Simply put, the prefix “eu” in Greek means “good”. Therefore the simple definition of eustress is: good stress.

When we perceive a stressor as positive and beneficial, it is considered eustress. Its easy to think what induces eustress in our lives because its usually one of our favorite things to do on a daily basis. In fact, we probably make time, even in a busy schedule, to do the things that produce eustress.

So, what would it look like if our recruitment processes revolved around re-creating the things we enjoy the most in our lives? What if we picked things that we like to do, things that changes our language from “have to” to “get to”? It might look something like this:

  • We get to go biking
  • We get to play pool
  • We get eat lunch
  • We get to go skating
  • We get to go hiking
  • We get to head to the river
  • We get to watch Game of Thrones
  • We get to play board games
  • We get to do Karaoke at our favorite place
  • We get to read books
  • We get to play piano
  • We get to play volleyball
  • We get to toss the football around
  • We get to test our improv skills
  • We get to lay out in the sun
  • We get to workout

There is no real reason for recruitment to stress you out. If you move to a model of building relationships through activities you “get to” do rather than “have to” do, you’ll find that recruitment slowly moves away from causing stress and anxiety and begins to reflect what you and your brothers naturally love doing. This helps not only get more brothers involved (because they’re doing things that they already love doing), but it also gives those PNM’s that you are bringing in an accurate picture of what your chapter is actually like, rather than the absurd falsity that our normal flashy rush week events represent.

Less bad stress, more good stress will equal a happier chapter and better results. Looking for ideas on how to get these amazing results as you prepare for recruitment this fall? Check out our free resources here!