For those of you who know me at all, you were probably expecting me to write a post about cheese eventually. Well here it is… enjoy.
Cheese is an interesting food. It’s a pretty amazing food, actually. There’s so many variations of cheese and each type is unique in its own way. Cheese comes in many forms, and each cheese has its own process that brings it into existence. This uniqueness all starts at the very beginning: where is the cheese coming from? Is it a cow cheese? Goat? Sheep? This distinctive property is very telling on what the cheese will be like from the color and texture to its flavor. The diversity in cheese is truly amazing. It’s awesome, right??
But for me, the thing about cheese that makes it so incredible is how it combines with other flavors to create something new. It is this transformative experience that makes cheese so diverse. Try a cheese on its own, that’s one experience, a cheese in its original, singular state. But try it with a particular wine, or a combination of accompaniments (nuts, grapes, honey, etc.) and it is transformed into something completely different. Having the right pairing can really take a cheese from its original state and bring it to a whole new level: an all-star cheese.
Now, you won’t be able to experience this magical cheese moment just willy-nilly. It takes experimenting and trial and error. The first pairing may be the worst thing that’s ever happened to your palate, but you shouldn’t just disregard the cheese and label it as a failure. Before you can know what to pair with a cheese, you have to try it on its own. You have to define its singular state. From there, do what feels right (or daring!). You don’t want to overpower the cheese, as some cheeses are more subtle, but you also want to make sure you find that unique flavor. You definitely have to adapt the pairings to fit the cheese just right.
All of my cheese reflection led me to a realization: Chapters are like cheeses. Each chapter is unique and there’s an endless number of characteristics that make a chapter different from the next. The school environment that it’s in, the fraternity and sorority community, its membership, age, the list goes on. The flavor profile of a chapter can change so easily based on what it is paired with. The executive council, the leadership consultant, a situation on campus. All of these can affect how a chapter is doing. Finding the right combination to take a chapter to the next level is just like finding the right pairing for a cheese. Trial and error. It’s a matter of being flexible to try new things and go out of your comfort zone.
This metaphor has helped me realize that each chapter needs support in a unique way. In order to know how to best support a chapter, I just have to start trying. If I learn something isn’t working, I can begin to adjust myself and my leadership style in order to help the chapter reach its potential. A chapter will go through natural ebb and flow, and as it changes, I’ll have to continue flexing my style based on the current state of the chapter. As I continue my LC year experimenting with cheese, I’ll also continue to push myself to experiment with the chapters. What’s working? How can I work to bring out the best in the women that I encounter? What combination of pairings best suit them?
Just some cheese for thought.