The Learning Curve

21 Feb


All organizations have cycles.

Some years are filled with accomplishments, while others seem like a waste. One thing that can’t be ignored, however, is that feeling when you are passionate enough about an organization to do anything within your power to see it succeed.

But how long does it take for that passion to take root?

What if you’re a new member and you have ideas that will benefit the organization but older members who worked their way up the chain of leadership become uneasy and question your motives: “Who is this new person trying to change everything?”, “What is their motive for wanting to work so hard?”, “There is no way they aren’t expecting something in return.”

When you’ve invested yourself in an organization it’s easy to become protective of it. You don’t view it as another bullet point on the resume, but more of an extended piece of yourself. This organization is where you made your best friends, where you stayed up endless nights working and where you transformed as a leader. And it took time for you to get there.

So when new members come in and shake things up, of course flags are raised.

Now let’s take a look from a new member’s perspective.

They want to get involved in something, they have researched the organization and love everything it’s about – they want to dive in and become a part of something amazing. However, there are some members questioning their motives and it’s discouraging.

I ask what’s worse: an organization changed by a new member or an organization that deters new members from ever being involved?

There is never a right answer – all circumstances are different – however, I think there is a learning curve that can ease the transition.  

The onus is on the new members to learn the history of the organization – how did the group become what it is today? Also, knowing the norms is incredibly beneficial to becoming a part of the group. Are there certain things to not say? What are the relationships like between current members? And the best way to be welcomed with open arms is to find a mentor within the organization. If you can find a member who will teach you the history and the norms, this learning curve becomes a lot quicker and others will trust you more. The learning curve for new members is all about building trust within the organization.

As for members that have been involved for a while, the most important aspect of the learning curve is to be open-minded. If you are a mentor it is even more rewarding to see someone take ownership of the organization and a guaranteed way to find a predecessor for when you graduate. Veteran members of organizations have to be aware that new members are the future of their organization – and excluding them is detrimental to the entire group.

If everyone can be aware of where they fall in an organization and embrace the learning curve – cycles will be smoother and transitions will be more productive.

I would know – my current right-hand man was questioned beyond belief from others when he first wanted to take ownership of our organization and I cannot imagine where I would be without him.



Alison Sibley is a Senior pursuing a BBA degree in Finance. Coming to Texas State from Dallas, in the fall of 2009, she had no idea the transformation that was about to take place. Through her involvement in the Associated Student Government, Student Organizations Council, and Student Foundation, Alison has grown to be a great leader who cares for students and their interests. She is dedicated to fulfilling the needs of her peers and helping Texas State reach new limits. Alison is also an alum of the Housley Principled Leadership Program and a part of the Stelos family.


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