Thursday, April 16, 2009

Word of The Day - Aphorism

The word of the day is aphorism, which is "a succinct statement expressing a general opinion or truth." Of course I have always knows what aphorism meant, simply by the context in which it is used, and the "-ism" (note the Sue-ism in the left column) is a dead giveaway, but I never use this word and being a lover of cool words, I really love aphorism (even though it sounds like a medical condition). I ran across an aphorism this morning in a Conde Naste magazine article about New York Yankees (baseball team) owner, George Steinbrenner III, who is said to have loved aphorisms, one of his favorites being "The speed of the pack is determined by the pace of the leader." Gal-howdy do I love that aphorism, and I'll tell you why in a minute, but first, I want to talk about this and other magazine articles that are in a collection that comes out every year called The Best American Series.

The Best American Series is an annual collection of magazine articles (Harper's, Atlantic Monthly, etc.) hand-picked by famous guest authors in a variety of genres, travel, sports, science & nature, short stories, etc., and compiled into books. The articles are always very informative, interesting, entertaining, and exceptionally well-written, and you don't have to wade through pages of advertising to get to them. Anyway, if you haven't read any of The Best American Series books I highly recommend you give them a try. I read almost every book they put out, every year and love them.

OK, back to Steinbrenner's (fascinating character by the way) aphorism, "The speed of the pack is determined by the pace of the leader." This saying has particular meaning to me as a development consultant. I have always said that a non-profit, and I believe that this applies to for-profits as well, is only as strong as it's head honcho, and have therefore counseled non-profits that hands-down, the most important thing they ever do, is to be very thoughtful in the selection of their nominating committee. Of course executive committees of boards know this, but don't necessarily take it seriously enough. When you are a volunteer executive committee member, and a busy person otherwise, the tendency can sometimes be to give the leadership to whoever is willing to take it. Non-profits by their nature move at a snail pace anyway, but you get the wrong person in that leadership role and you can lose any momentum, and possibly lose any ground acquired over the past 2-4 years. It can be tragic, and also due to the non-confrontational nature of non-profits, very difficult to reverse. Another over-used but under appreciated aphorism comes to mind, "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link." Sometimes boards feel pressured to fill board positions with just anyone who'll accept. That which doesn't strengthen the organization, weakens it. Take your time. Do it right.

OK, enough platitudes and lectures.

Today's my birthday!! Happy Birthday to me! I never dreamed that 61 could feel so good! Great husband, great family, great friends, great clients. It doesn't get any better.



1 comment:

  1. How about 61 looking so good? Way to go, friend! And a very happy birthday to you! Charlena