There is a reason you keep working for credit unions.
That reason has changed with time, no doubt. But there's a reason.
The people who I love working with, and for, in the movement have reasons that sound a lot like these:
"I believe in what we stand for." Or "I like helping people." Or "I want to make a difference." Or "this is fun!"
This group could help consumers from any desk, laptop, or setting in any industry. This group measures success in terms of impact, not in accountant speak. This group doesn't need credit unions. Credit unions need them.
There are other reasons people work for credit unions. Their reasons sound different. Their reasons are sprinkled with descriptors like "trapped," "stuck," "scared," "it's all I know," "the job market" and "I'm the [fill in leadership position of your choice], for crying out loud."
This group has seen new ideas fail, knows how hard change is, and fights like the dickens to avoid it. This group is toxic and all around us.
My reason for working for credit unions has changed dramatically over the years. "I don't know what all of this credit union stuff is, but this job description sounds like fun" quickly turned into "I believe in what we do." Later, my new "I want to make a difference" reason morphed into "I can make a difference."
I think I have a new reason.
Over the past several years, many amazing opportunities have presented themselves to me. In some cases, I created those opportunities with hard work, sacrifices in my personal life, and a naive insistence that I matter. In many other cases, serendipity gets the credit. Still, the major source of opportunity in my career has been the belief others have placed in me.
My latest opportunity was being able to attend the 1 Conference with the Crash the 1 group. The reasons these young adults "crashed" varied, I'd imagine. They came from all over the globe from credit unions large and small. They came from many different disciplines, education levels, and experience. Most important of all, however, was another attribute they brought: naiveté.
I think this struck me the hardest when I heard Tim McAlpine and Gene Blishen close the Crash event. Gene, after all of these years, is still naive enough to think small credit unions can do huge things. Tim is still naive enough to think he can create a youth movement that will add 1,000,000 members to credit unions in his career. They're not just naive...they're right.
The optimism of some of my favorite people in credit unions has been poisoned by cynicism. The lumps of the last several years have jaded even the most impervious credit union spirits. The same folks that used to ask "why can't we?" are telling each other why "that can't be done." The regulatory and economic environment has created a leadership crisis.
The reason I keep working for credit unions is because I don't want to grow up. The people that believe in me haven't provided me opportunity because of experience, or title, or politics. They've given me opportunity because they think I'm crazy and naive enough to do something with it.
"Crashing" has nothing to do with entitlement, or instant gratification, or unfair opportunity. Rather, Crash is a reminder to the old guard that what we need more than anything right now is inexperience, energy, optimism, and a self-assured belief that maybe, just maybe, we can change for the better.
What is the reason you keep working for credit unions?