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CHASING APRONS

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 19, 2018

BRYCE ON NONPROFITS

– What is more important, the institution or our vanity?

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As a follow-up to my recent column on “Do Just One Thing,” I want to describe another problem involving nonprofit organizations, and that is “Chasing Aprons.” This is an expression derived from Freemasonry, the ancient fraternity. For those unfamiliar with the Craft, it is customary for Masons to wear a plain white leather apron at our meetings, symbolizing the aprons worn by workmen years ago. We are admonished there is nothing more ancient or honorable than the plain white apron, yet there are other more decorative aprons awarded as gifts to Masonic officers. Over the years, such aprons have become coveted as a means of identifying a Mason of influence. Unfortunately, some Masons desperately pursue these ornate aprons only to denote their authority, not for accomplishing anything of substance, hence the expression “Chasing Aprons.”

The Masons are not alone in this regards as I have seen similar situations in other nonprofit groups. For example, I remember attending a party when I moved into my neighborhood and a man approached me with some swagger saying, “Hi, I’m John Doe, President of the homeowner association” (it was kind of like, “Hi, I’m the Head Raccoon”). He winked at me, then turned away to glad hand someone else. Frankly, I burst out laughing as he thought he was impressing me. In reality, this same gentleman ran the homeowner association right into the ground and nearly bankrupted it.

At some of the I.T. related associations I was involved in, there would be the usual officer titles, such as President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer, but then there are higher titles such as “Division Director” as you now oversaw several chapters as opposed to just one. There are other names for this, such as “District Deputy” or “Inspector,” but you get the idea. Such titles denote a loftier position and are either given to people to perform a legitimate responsibility or awarded as gifts to cronies.

I have seen people “Chasing Aprons” in just about every nonprofit group I’ve been involved in, be it fraternal, political, professional, educational, even in sports clubs, such as those related to baseball, softball, football and soccer.

I have found people who covet such titles tend to be more consumed with the title, and less about the responsibility associated with it. This is essentially no different than in business where people yearn for a job title for political reasons as it will look good on a resume. I tend to see such people as rather shallow. They never accomplished anything of substance in their life, so the appeal for recognition through titles and aprons is irresistible to them. Whenever I run into people like this, who obviously don’t know what they are doing, I tell others to give the person the title or apron and get them out of the way as they will only inhibit progress.

As an aside, I wonder how many people would volunteer their service if there wasn’t a title or apron involved? It would be an interesting experiment to see if people care more about the institution they belong to or are in it for themselves.

Obviously, this is all about the human ego. In Freemasonry, we are taught the importance of the title of “Brother” as it is a fraternity, a Brotherhood. There are many other impressive sounding titles associated with the Masons, but nothing more important than the simple designation of “Brother” and the plain white leather apron.

Just remember, being called a “thoroughbred” doesn’t change the fact that a jackass is a jackass.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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6 Responses to “CHASING APRONS”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    An E.I. of the United Kingdom wrote…

    “In the UK we have many “dark blues” who are in all honesty crap Masons but who have nice deep pockets. I have always said that Masonry is like fishing, you can be content with a stick and piece of line or you can be a blue water fisherman on a gin palace, if chasing honours and buying respect is your thing then Masonry is for you. If learning your ritual and being a productive member of your lodge is your thing…then Masonry is for you too. The main thing to remember is that Masonry is not exempt from having issues of vanity, pride, nepotism and so on, it is also not exempt from having humanity, kindness and earning respect from your peers, why? because Masons are humans, at the end of the day if we all like fishing what’s the problem.”

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    A T.M. of Massachusetts wrote…

    “A successful mantra I’ve picked up on is “No one gets to do two things until everyone is doing one.” We’ve had a nice increase in member involvement at the Scouts, Masonic and the bagpipe group I’m in using this!”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tim Bryce said

    An M.S. of Dunedin, Florida wrote…

    “I agree that are many who chase aprons. However, I’m hopeful that those of us who are not outweigh those who do. 🙂 I still wear my rose-colored Masonic glasses.”

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    An M.B. in Clearwater, Florida wrote…

    “Jackass ! Now that’s calling it correctly.

    Left out saying moving up the ranks (chairs) and above should be a honor well deserved vs being part of the good old boy network and getting it for doing next to nothing. But it getting harder to find good people willing to come forward. “

    Like

  5. Tim Bryce said

    A T.K. of Zephyrhills, Florida wrote…

    “Very good spot on article. I know the story well; and in my retirement park of 900 homes is a HOA. Ha, many fit your description.

    Now I know you are a Past Master of your lodge but it bothers me a lot when masonic bodies make a big tado about how much better a man is because “He is a Past Master” of a lodge but me as a Past High Priest and a Past Illustrious Master does not count. The AASR valley in Columbus, Ohio gives 50% discount to new members if they are a PM or an officer in a lodge but no mention for York Rite officers. Bah Humbug.. You will see the same attitude in the Philalethes Society of writers or officers.”

    Like

  6. Tim Bryce said

    A C.D. of Tampa, Florida wrote…

    “Great article. It is also worth mentioning, those who “chase the apron” are usually not in anything for the long haul. Once the “Apron” is achieved, they move on to the next thing and abandon the organization that elevated them to that position. Longevity and dedication to the “Craft” is always more important than the fancy apron. Build a legacy with years of dedicated service; the apron will then be more than fabric, but a lasting memory in the hearts and minds of those who served along side of you.”

    Like

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