Bigger Than You

bigger than you.jpgThere are many things we can do with our time. Time is the single most valuable thing we have on this earth. As such, it is important that we spend our time wisely; and when we do, we must receive something of value in return. That return does not have to be monetary; it can simply be the satisfaction that we have done something to contribute to the success of the organization for which we volunteer. Whether we coach sports or other school activities for our children, volunteer at one of many nonprofit organizations, or support our local IEC chapter and IEC National, we become a part of something that is bigger than we are.
Shortly after I went into business, I was approached by the very first electrician I worked with. He had gone on to get his own license and started his own business. He invited me to my first Electrical Contractors Association meeting, where I met many like-minded electrical contractors in my area. I joined the association at that very first meeting and have been a member of various electrical associations ever since.
As a young twenty-something electrical contractor, I realized doing the actual electrical wiring and installations is the easiest part of the electrical contracting business. We all have ups and downs in business. Those ups and downs can be due to economic downturns; a client’s failure to pay; a shortage of skilled labor, as we are all currently experiencing; or a myriad of other factors in between. Learning the ins and outs of the business from my peers and applying what I learned to my business has been an important factor in the growth of my company and, during those down times, its very survival.
In turn when times are good, I know that through my membership in the association all I have to do when I need help is pick up the phone and make a call. That happened when I took on an average size Surgical Center. Before I knew it, the job grew to five times its original size with no additional time allotted to the schedule. I made that call and it was answered by two IEC members who provided additional manpower turning what could have been a disaster to the most profitable project I have ever done. That is the value of participating and not just belonging.
Over the years, I have served on various committees and boards within multiple associations, including as President. Years later, a group of Past Presidents of that first contractors’ association knew there was something bigger than a state association. I joined them and together they formed NJ-IEC.
When you join IEC, you can only get out of it what you put into it. To get the most out of your membership it is important that you participate in the organization in some way beyond just attending meetings. By far the easiest way to participate is to show up. That is the short answer to what I have done over the years.
I am often asked how I do all that I do within the association. Believe me, I am not Superman. It is more what I don’t do than what I do; I never say I do not have the time. If we all did that, none of us would volunteer for anything. Rest assured, your peers do not have any more time than you do but they continue to show up. The “trick” is quite simple and is something we all do on a daily basis. It is simply time management. I am able to do what I do for my chapter and IEC National because I schedule my time for the association – just like I schedule my time for my clients. When there is an upcoming IEC meeting or event, I place it on my calendar just as I would work for my clients. Once that time is blocked on my