Can We Matter?

When I write, my intent is to speak about the culture of Freedom, our purpose and, if possible, to inspire. I want members and employees to know that we are more than a bank, more than a financial institution. We are a partner; striving to serve and improve the lives of those with whom we come in contact in any way possible. Yet, I look around at the world and I wonder just how much we can do. What role can we play in making our community better, safer, and can that in turn create a better world? Can saving a member money, providing a loan for that first home, educating on how to budget, or providing employment that supports a family, make a difference and set people on a better path? Can that have a positive ripple effect? Can we matter? Tough questions and a grand idea to be sure.

I don’t know if financial institutions think about that a lot. Sure, commercials will say they do. Ads will pull at your heart strings to convince you they are more, but when you look at the profits, the growth, the mergers, etc., it’s easy to question the true motivation. Obviously any business must earn enough to pay their bills, pay their employees, and so on, but how much is enough? Freedom is a not-for-profit and, as such, our obligation is to take care of the same things as any business (infrastructure, salaries, products and services, etc.), but also take earnings and give back in a variety of ways; keeping fees down or eliminating them, maintaining competitive interest rates, reinvesting in the organization and supporting our community. Our earnings do not go to pay a Board of Directors; they volunteer for that role. Earnings do not go to stockholders to make a select few wealthy; they go to the membership. The best part is that how much we can give back is directly impacted by members themselves because the more they do, the more we earn and the more we give back. Seems simple, but it’s not.

See, we don’t believe, as some other financial institutions, in selling things to members they don’t really need or want. We have all the necessary products and services as any bank or credit union, but strive to give something more; a place you can count on and trust. A place that will meet member’s needs, but also talk to them, listen to them, and help them make the most out of their finances and decisions. It would be great if the world worked more like a credit union. Where people came together to support one another, do the things they do and use the things they use every day and, as a byproduct, help others as well as themselves. Where the greater good is placed above the individual. A member’s value at Freedom is not based on how much money they have on deposit or what position they hold in life. We don’t set out to offer the best products, rates or services for a select few. Our goal is to provide the best we can for all members.

Our mission is “to be a trusted partner by creating a culture of people helping people that meets the needs of our members and the communities we serve”. So, whether you’re an employee, a member, or both, if you want more out of your credit union, do more with your credit union. You’ll get more than you realize.


A Dream Within A Dream

Did you ever have one of those dreams that screws up your mood and has the potential to ruin your whole day? Not a scary dream; those are easy because you wake up and see there is no clown at the foot of your bed holding a chainsaw and an artichoke. You get scared, realize you’re safe and move on. Sure your heart is pounding, but it’s over.  No, I mean the ones where you wake up heart broken, feeling like you got punched in the gut and wishing you could get back into the dream because it was so much better than reality. Those are tougher to shake off because at the core they are more real; conjured by an experience, a thought, something that triggers a memory or unfulfilled desire. There is a part of you that exits in that dream and in real life making the separation of the two more difficult and the options for dealing with it more challenging. When something upsets you, real or imagined, it can be difficult to get past right away until you can isolate the cause and find the right way to respond.

In life, in business, we don’t always have the luxury of reacting the way we want when something troubles us. We have to temper our feelings, maybe even push them aside and measure our response as we try to understand the why so we can cope, move on and accomplish our objectives. I choose to believe most people’s intentions are good and their goal isn’t to upset, but just like we don’t go to bed expecting to have a dream that makes us feel bad, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. We can be unpredictable and unaware sometimes of how our actions or words are perceived. We insinuate or say things that fail to properly clarify our intent and can have multiple interpretations. This can be a result of poor communication skills or an overzealous nature to accomplish a goal. There may be times when an individual need becomes the priority clouding the judgment and closing the ears to different perspectives and needs. Likewise, problems can be the result of our own preconceived ideas or a past experience that we, or someone we know, had. The important thing is to simply recognize these possibilities and realize that each conversation, contact, communication, is a chance to build, or rebuild, relationships and create an environment of mutual respect.

So, before we send an email, have a conversation, or post on social media, we need to consider our intent, ultimate objective and how the message will be received. A daunting task I know, but let me put it into context. When I put together an article like this I start days in advance with an idea. I start writing, trying to convey a thought, but all the way up until I hit “send” I’m editing, changing, rewording, etc. in hopes that the real meaning comes across and not something unintended. I try to craft something impactful, but broad enough to show that the ideas expressed apply to us all from time to time. It may not always work, but as long as the effort is there, I am content.  I’m not saying it should take days to send someone an email or to write out a script before making a call. All I’m saying is be cognizant about the impact your words and their delivery can have. Make sure the why is clear and that all aspects, especially when you’re part of a group with varying backgrounds, are considered with equal weight. This doesn’t mean every decision reached or action taken will be loved by all, but if the communication is clear, if other points of view are considered and if the why is explained, we reduce the potential negativity that can otherwise result and hold us back from reaching our potential.