Every so often, I receive an email asking for volunteers to assist with a project or sit on a committee. The majority of them come from the Texas Physical Therapy Association (TPTA). The ones I receive from the APTA usually have requirements that I can't meet. Now you would think this is a perfect opportunity for me. I have opinions I'm not afraid to express. I'm quick to point out shortcomings and offer alternative solutions. Volunteering would give me a chance to influence things.
It doesn't work that way. I tried it. I found that these groups want volunteers but only volunteers who share the same ideology. For a while I was involved within my district. I was a board member. I volunteered because I had different ideas I wanted to express. I quickly discovered that thinking outside the collective box was not encouraged. I eventually stepped down due to the friction that was being created.
A few years ago, I volunteered for a committee within the Geriatrics Section. I don't remember what it was. The meetings were held quarterly via conference call. This turned out to be a group of individuals who'd been working together for a while. I'm not sure what they wanted additional volunteers for, since they never delegated any tasks or responsibilities. I don't think they noticed when I quit the committee.
This has created a paradox. On one hand, these groups want to encourage new people to become active. On the other hand, they only want individuals who mirror their opinions and beliefs. Bringing in new people increases the odds that new opinions will also join the group. Sometimes a new set of eyes is just what is needed to problem-solve. New perspectives might force a group to reassess the old way of doing things and move in a new direction. Or they could be shot down before they are completely expressed.
I would like to be more involved. I would rejoin the Southeast District but the old guard still reigns. There is an opening for a delegate-at-large, which sounds appealing. However, I would have trouble keeping my opinions separate from those that I was entrusted to represent. I'm pretty sure delegates are supposed to do as instructed, not voice individual opinions. I will have to think about this more.
People aren't going to volunteer unless they are welcomed, dissenting opinions and all. Time is precious. No one wants to have to devote time to something that becomes a burden. If I volunteer to do something, that means I'm willing to take on responsibilities and tasks. It also means I might have a differing opinion.