Motivating the Middle: Fighting Apathy in College Student Organizations

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They are not the same, and as a savvy student leader, you need to understand that. It's a much better idea to make the organization work for those who are committed to its success.


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Focus on those who choose to take part in a positive way, and stop worrying about convincing the bottom third to care as deeply as you do. Allow for some flexibility for middle-third members. Expect only the minimum from bottom-third members who wish to remain involved.

Do these things, and you will see investment in your organization increase. You'll see your time and energy spent on more productive endeavors.

See a Problem?

But, there's still one small problem. Your top-third members might get very annoyed by the disparity in expectations. They will say it's not fair. They might wonder why members who put in very little get to attend the social events or ride on the Homecoming float or get access to the same benefits as they. You will try to elevate their rewards. You will give them lots of appreciation and praise.

But, they'll still be annoyed. When this happens, it's time for your top-third members to come to terms with a basic truth that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. The idea that every member of an organization will be equally committed and engaged is a fantasy, and they are wasting their time whining about it.

View 2 comments. Nov 08, Mandy Havert rated it really liked it Shelves: challenge-list. This was an extremely quick read and is a straightforward perspective setter on why organizations have those who commit to the n-th degree and those who are so loosely committed they could be someone who wandered in off the street for the free chips and salsa.

Direct and succinct, this book helps student organization leaders understand why the top two thirds of an organization matter most, but that the lower third cannot be fully discounted. Feb 11, Tricia Copeland rated it really liked it. Although I'm not in a college organization at this time, I meet T. Even though it's written for college organizations, it can be applied to any group.

I got a lot out of how to keep members of your group happy and organizations thriving.

Motivating the Middle: Fighting Apathy in College Student Organizatio…

Thanks T. Good, easy, quick read! Nov 02, Kaitlyn Martin rated it it was amazing. Motivating the Middle was such an insightful read that help me become a better leader as I was serving on my Undergraduate institution's Panhellenic. I will be recommending this, as a student affairs professional, to my future students.

Jan 25, Chandler rated it it was amazing Shelves: leadership. Motivating the Middle by T. Sullivan is one of the most inspiring books that I read so far this year. It was a quick read, and from the beginning I felt like Sullivan knew me personally. Apr 12, Sarah Moore rated it it was amazing. TJ Sullivan is one of the most inspiring public speakers I have listened to. This book reinforces that. All of it makes sense. Total and complete sense.

"Motivating the Middle: Fighting Apathy in College Student Organizations" Featuring T.J. Sullivan

Whether you are a top third who is frustrated or a top third leader who wants to be innovative, this way of thinking and leading is a breath of fresh air into any way of thinking. I believe that all student leaders should read this book, and that all types of student organizations would benefit from it's ideas put into action.

Dec 15, Ryan rated it really liked it. Insightful, actionable resource for the college student leader and the student affairs professionals supporting them. Amazingly quick read and comes with discussion questions at the end for immediate appication. May 23, Norm rated it really liked it. Pretty good read for student leaders looking to make more of an impact on their membership and getting them more involved.

It's a different way of looking at things, and something worth looking into. A very quick read. Great book!


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I'm a high school teacher struggling to motivate my students. Though this book is geared towards those over student organizations, I feel that it offers valuable information that can be applied in multiple circumstances; even in the classroom. Feb 04, Claudine rated it really liked it.

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This is a great book. An easy read. For anyone who works with young adults in organizations, this provides great insight into helping them realize what they can do to make their organization better, more purpose-driven. Aug 12, Gary Baker rated it really liked it. Very short and easy read, and some simple and easy-to-apply suggestions for working with student orgs.

Good read for student leaders or anyone working with clubs on a campus. Mar 07, Amber rated it really liked it Shelves: kindle. Easy read It would make all of our lives easier!! View 1 comment. May 23, Jennifer Keegin rated it liked it. Great book for student leaders. Helps them to understand different motivations students have. Dec 19, Tricia Smith rated it really liked it. This is a great book for college student leaders. It's a quick read and good lessons about prioritizing your energies to maximize the team!

Jan 03, Nate Burke rated it liked it. Great read for student leaders. Mar 12, Natalie Dipietro rated it really liked it.

ISBN 13: 9781604946901

Feb 14, Nicole rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: student leaders or anyone advising a student group. Shelves: higher-ed , leadership , student-affairs. Kevin rated it it was amazing Feb 08, V rated it it was amazing Aug 31, Moira Bushell rated it it was amazing Jun 29, See our User Agreement and Privacy Policy.

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