Here is another journal entry I wrote two years ago while reflecting on my service to First State HOG. It is similar to the recently published post on enthusiasm but includes some other toughts as well.
I have served as the Director of the First State Chapter of the Harley Owners Group® since January 1st 2009. Having two months left before I turn over the chapter to a new Director I find myself in a state of reflection but not able to organize my thoughts. I guess that is the advantage of a journal as you can reflect freely. So consider this a journal entry.
In 2008 our HOG chapter was more of a social club than a riding club. The same six to ten people showed up for all the rides. It was a rebuilding year and low particpation could be expected. The owner of the Harley-Davidson dealership that sponsors us had fired the volunteer officers of the chapter in 2006. Many members left with those officers. Both 2007 and 2008 were rebuilding years. The dealership was sold to a new owner in the fall of 2008 and it seemed like we were off to a bad start with our new sponsor. About that time a large group of men and women left the chapter and joined a local MC and WMC. Those members included people in key positions: Director, Secretary, Treasurer, Activities Officer and a former Head Road Captain. As the Assistant Director I was the only primary officer left.
I met with the General Manager of Mike’s Famous Harley-Davidson to discuss my being Director and we agreed on everything we talked about. The relationship was off to a good start. I made some calls and filled most if not all the available officer positions. At this time I was still rather new to riding and to HOG®. My enthusiasm was high and that enthusiasm was contageous. I was so excited to ride and to make new friends that liked to ride I was burning with a passion for this chapter. Being exposed to riding beyond what I thought riding was about got me fired up. I was excited! And that caused other people to get excited! They got behind me and supported me. It was a great thing! Maybe the second best thing that has ever happened to me!
I put together a great team of leaders and together we more than doubled participation. We developed an outstanding relationship with our sponsor. Our chapter rides grew to having roughly twenty riders on every ride. And they weren’t the same twenty riders! It seemed like each Road Captain had his/her own twenty riders! We won numerous awards for chapter particaption (10 in 2009 in honor of Karen Fortner). We took third place for particpation with 52 members at HOGs at the Beach last month (our first showing at this event in years). Most importantly this group of leaders fostered an atmasphere where everyone enjoyed each others company. Conversation came naturally and new members felt welcome from day one. No one felt left out, unwelcome or new. It was difficult to start meetings or end breaks because everyone was having such a good time socializing. The enthusiasm created excitement and excitement resulted in particaption! The chapter is a success!
A lot has changed since 2007. My enthusiasm isn’t what it was and I feel guilty about it (yes I am jewish so guilt is part of the territory). It is natural to experience spurts of motivation. We all experience spurts of motivation when we start new diets, exercise programs and even career changes. It’s also natural to want to move on to something new like the members who left First State to join the MC and WMC in 2008. They moved on to something they were excited about. Everyone is friends and we still appreciate the affect those leaders had in rebuilding the chapter. Even this year we had some members leave to start up a new riding organization and we wish them well as they undertake the excitement of starting a new group.
I try to remember the excitement I had back in 2007. I went on every chapter ride! I never checked the weather, where the ride was going, who was leading, who else was going or how early it was leaving. I didn’t care, I was excited to go on any ride with other like minded people. I was so excited I would wake up early like it was a big event no matter what! Now I can’t seem to drag myself out of bed on Saturday or Sunday morning for those same rides. I started finding myself picking and choosing which rides and events I would participate in based on the above mentioned criteria. Four years have passed since I joined the local HOG chapter. Two months left of Directorship and I hardly go on any rides other than the ones Diana organizes. What has changed? I have changed and so has the chapter. Maybe I just need a little break.
I am definitely not as excited to do the things I was excited about three or four years ago. I need new experiences to fire up my furnace. Doesn’t everyone? Maybe it’s just me because I do suffer from depression and it’s always been difficult for me to get excited about anything. It’s only fair that I step aside and pass on the Directorship to someone with fresh ideas and excitement. In fact that has always been the plan, it was a three year commitment based on the fact that someone can only have a passion for something like this for about three years. I feel strongly that the most important piece in this equation is enthusiasm. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
I feel a like a victim of our success. My vision was always for growth, prosperity and huge particpation for the chapter as well as that “one big happy family” feeling. We achieved that! But like many things I thought I wanted this might not be the best thing for me. I miss those 2007 rides with the same six to ten people every weekend. I swell up with pride every time I see new people at our events but I also feel strange about it. Sometimes I feel like a stranger at our own events with all the new people that have joined. I’m lucky to be part of an organization that offers the opportunity to meet new people that love Harleys. But I miss the tightness of the smaller group we had. I obviously have conflicted feelings.
It is definitely with conflicted feelings that pass the baton. Being the Director has somewhat defined who I am for the past three years. No matter where I go I carry that pride with me. I am the leader of a special group of people. The best people I have ever met. I have no children of my own but can only compare this feeling with what I think it feels like to be a proud parent. For me it is a little like the scene in the movie The Jerk when Steve Martin’s character saw his name in the phone book for the first time. “I am somebody now!” I fear I am really going to miss that feeling of being special.
I still love HOG®. In fact I love HOG® beyond our local chapter. I love being a part of the Maryland/Delaware HOG® chapters who have a special kinship. I love being a leader in this international organization and I enjoy the company of being with other leaders in this organization. HOG Officer Training has been one of my favorite experiences. Thus it is natural that my next challenge involves the 2012 Maryland/ Delaware State HOG® Rally.
It was through writing articles for the chapter newsletter that I discovered a passion for writing. I like writing about riding almost as much as I like the riding. I have always loved motorcycles since before I could walk. I can’t explain that but I love everything about motorcycles. I love motorcycle: books, movies, tv shows, magazines, calendars, museums, dealerships, culture, parts, clothes, accessories, collectables, images, races, and competitions of every kind. I like tools but not maintenance or repairs. I like cleaning and polishing products but not the actual cleaning and polishing. It’s not logical to love a dangerous sport that is dependent on the weather. It’s not logical to love a form of transportation that is limited by night vision, ones visibility to others, the temperature, daylight savings time, the seasons, the movements of critters and ones ability to focus intently for hours. Logical or not I have a passion for traveling and for motorcycles and like to write about both. My involvement with HOG® has given birth to a new passion! I have to explore this and see where it leads. It could be our future. I don’t believe retirement will be an option for us, at least not in the sense of previous generations. I would like to think that our writing and photography could possibly provide a form of retirement income. Someday when we have no debt we might be able to live on the income from travel writing. For now we are busting our behinds doing what we are good at.
After providing four plus years of very rewarding service to the chapter in four different positions I shouldn’t have to have reasons for moving on but as I said before I feel guilty about it. To sum things up it is safe to say I don’t have the same spark for riding and socializing as I did a few years ago. I want to work on the 2012 State Rally and then work on my writing and see where that takes me. I also want to experience being an active member at large. I don’t want to have the pressure of setting the example. I want to do things because they fit my schedule and I truly want to do them… just like everybody else. At the very least maybe I just need a short break.