The Meeting

“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be “meetings.”  – “Things That It Took Me 50 Years to Learn”
Dave Barry, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author and columnist 1947 –

This morning I got up at the crack of dawn – well actually 7am but that is early for those of us who have ‘retired’.  The reason for this?  I was to attend a meeting of staff of the organization for which my Real Estate friend belongs.  I may have told you that in my ‘spare time’  I act as back up for this friend, doing all the behind-the -scenes work that she really doesn’t have either the time or inclination to do.

The meeting was scheduled for 8.45 am so I left home at 8.15am as I don’t really know what the traffic is like at that hour, and true to form, my friend was running late.  When we arrived all eyes turned to us and the manager intoned “Welcome”.  This is a regular weekly meeting and apparently – how surprising –  my friend is always the last to arrive.

Anyway, the meeting got underway and it brought to mind many other meetings I have attended in my long life.

  • Meetings with school teachers who told me either that my child was exceeding expectations, meeting the expectations or in some cases “must work harder” and “could do so much better”.
  • Meetings of fund-raising committees.  These, of course, are volunteers and although in many instances decisions were made as to what would be done and by whom, often the plans went awry.  And of course, volunteers cannot be held to the decisions made as can those we employ and pay.
  • Meetings of brides, their attendants, grooms, their attendants and mothers and fathers of the happy pair.  At one such meeting, we had the father of the bride who had been married three times, attending the meeting with all his wives who all wanted to have a say in what was going on.
  • Meetings of architects, builders, plumbers, electricians and sundry other tradespeople on building sites, often in the rain, and sometimes I was asked what I was doing at the meeting and sometimes even ‘should we wait for your boss, dear’.  You can imagine how well that question was received by me.  Women were quite rare in property development at that time.
  • Meetings of the policy committee when I worked for a short time for a quasi-Government Department.  By quasi, I mean that some of the funding was from the industry and the rest from Government.
  • Meetings of the Building Owners and Managers Association in which I was the only woman and the speakers used to begin by saying “Gentlemen and Judith”.  And I was on the committee of this organization as well.

I have sat through presentations on all manner of things; have met people on the committees or at the presentation who have gone on to become well-recognized in their field.

Have you seen the training program “Meetings, Bloody Meetings” by John Cleese?  Click here to see the trailer.  It’s hilarious.

And finally, a quote from one of my favourite motivational speakers.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong but not rude. Be kind but not weak. Be bold but not a bully. Be thoughtful but not lazy. Be humble but not timid. Be proud but not arrogant. Have humor but without folly.”
Jim Rohn, 1930 – 2009  American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker.

Jim has now sadly, died but his legacy of the inspiration remains and lives on in those of us who had the opportunity to meet him and to follow his advice.


17 responses to “The Meeting

  1. Dave Barry hit the nail on the head. Luckily, I have been required to attend few meetings in my life, which is a good thing. I tend to mentally drift after awhile, even while I am telling myself to pay attention.


  2. Morning meetings are infinitely better than those following lunch. No matter how much I tell myself not to dose, I usually do. Meetings should not be longer than 30 minutes.
    I cringed when I read the ‘should we wait for your boss, dear’ comment. Some of us have really come a long way!


  3. ordinarygoodness

    I’ve just watched the DVD of “Made in Dagenham” where women were patronised by all and sundry but this small group of machinists made a difference with their demands for pay equity. But there is still much work to be done to empower women.

    As for meetings the founder of the Body Shop – Anita Roddick used to run all meetings where everyone was standing up and that spurred decisions on very promptly.

    And it has been said that the camel is the result of a committee decision, probably made in an ineffective meeting:-)


    • Some meetings are necessary ie workmen on a development site, but they were all keen to get away to another job so they didn’t drag out. But some of the others!


  4. I try to avoid meetings whenever possible, but there are times when it is not possible. Luckily, I don’t live the kind of life that has me going from one meeting to the next. I prefer to stay home and write.. 🙂


  5. winsomebella

    A friend of mine brought her six-year old daughter along to the monthly board meeting of local nonprofit organization. Midway through the meeting, little Nancy announced loudly “no wonder you call this a bored meeting—so boring!” Quite astute at a young age, I think!


  6. I can identify with being a woman in a “man’s” field. I’d worked in auto parts for YEARS, and to have a customer tell me they wanted to talk to a man tested my patience and lovely demeanor thoroughly. 🙂 I imagine elopement might have crossed the minds of that bride and groom during that meeting!


  7. Dave Barry is good at hitting the nail right on the head. The video was, as you mentioned, hilarious. 🙂

    Meetings. I often wonder who came up with such a way to waste time.


  8. I can relate to John Cleese on meetings; some are productive, others are not… 🙂


  9. I worked (and volunteered) with non-profit organizations for many years, and have attended more meetings than I care to count…I get rather annoyed when an hour or more of my time is gone, and nothing has been accomplished! I will probably have to start going to meetings again in my new job…am not looking forward to it!



    • Well I hope the rest of the new job is working out well.

      I think those meetings of well meaning women sitting on committees to raise money for charity were the worst time wasters. We did raise quite a lot of money but the hours of tedium before we actually got to do so!




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