Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Losing Battle?

Last time, I posted about how I'm not feelin' the outreach program I've been trying to develop for the last few months.

Micro Dr. O and Cath made some interesting comments:
(MDO) I'd say if you're already unhappy with the project, then, unfortunately it's probably not going to get much better.

(Cath) It really does sound like this project is going to make you unhappy either way.
These got me wondering: what has happened in the last few months to make me go from super-excited and gung-ho about this project, to wanting to walk away?

I know exactly what it is: people.

You see, a couple months ago, I met with another person who is creating a similar program at another telescope in Canada. He had all sorts of great ideas, one of which was to put a steering committee together to help me write a business proposal.

At first, I thought this was a great idea - I could bounce ideas off others and the program could benefit from their experiences and unique skill sets. But, as time goes on, I'm not sure if it's a good way to get things done.

First of all - I'm an introvert. So, I have a huge problem articulating myself in groups. It's not that I don't know how to talk...no...it's more like I let people finish their sentences, or it takes me a few seconds for things to sink in before I want to say my part. Most people, though, are extroverts - they feed off interrupting and talking over each other. So, I tend to get pushed to the background, while everyone else is freely voicing their opinions.

I also have an issue in trying to be "the leader" of the committee. Even though I have ample experience in developing and running outreach programs, I feel looked down upon because I am younger than everyone else on the committee. I don't think it's understood that this is my program, and I've asked them to be on the committee to help out, not take over.

Adding these two together, I have a hard time "wrangling the troops". I send out a list of things I want to talk about at a meeting in the hopes people will stick to the topics, but this never happens. We often go off topic, and when I try to get things back on track, it lasts for about five minutes before someone else goes off on another tangent (again, good for extroverts, not so good for introverts).

Lastly (and Cath alluded to this in her comment asking if I can "cut the fat" and get back to basics), all of these people have great ideas....but sometimes it gets out of control. I really want the program to start small and simple, and to grow at a sustainable rate. But, every time I start talking about an event, all of a sudden we're inviting the local who's who, hosting a black-tie banquet, or entertaining 300 Scouts from across Ontario.

What it comes down to is I'm not enjoying working with a team. They are wonderful people, have great ideas, and lots of energy...but I just cannot "manage" the meetings the way I would like too. Things are getting totally out of hand, and I just want to scale back and start from the beginning again.

Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with this situation? How can I become "the leader" without turning into "the bitch"? How do I get them to understand that their role is "helper" not "taker-over-er"? Part of me wants to disband the whole idea of a steering committee, but I think if I could find a way to make it work, it would really benefit both me and the program.