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"Meet me in the crowd, people, people
Throw your love around, love me, love me
Take it into town, happy, happy
Shiny happy people holding hands
Shiny happy people laughing..."
- "Shiny Happy People," REM
Can it really be that long since "Shiny Happy People" hit the airwaves? Listening to this track today brought me right back with a whipsaw motion that almost snapped me in two.
It shouldn't seem odd that I would be unable to resist blogging about the death of REM, although it is a little funny that some of my readers predicted it with Minority Report accurateness.
Loves me some Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the like, but we all knew REM was the key, the cornerstone. Controversial. Political. Independent. The real reason alternative rock grew into the life-changing phenom that it did. Now they are breaking up. Cordially. Respectfully.
As much as I mourn this passing on of an era (and no matter how old this is making me feel), I am really not that surprised. We GenXers worshiped at the altar of REM's independence. How fitting that at the end, they refused to allow even their biggest fans to dictate their future. I congratulate them for realizing they wanted something new. Other ways to express themselves musically. Or maybe just a well-deserved rest.
I have to wonder if we are all capable of making the tough decision to quit when the time comes to do so. We are surrounded by messages about "getting our heads in the game," and "staying the course," and "up with people, you can do it!" In spite of all the platitudes and guilt trips, if we lose our passion for our home life or work life can we make the same graceful decision to exit stage left? Do we, in fact, have an obligation to do so?
Will your association know when it's time to quit? If your association comes to a crossroads where it needs to make a choice to merge with another for the betterment of their profession or industry, or cease operations because its landscape has changed so dramatically, will it have the courage to remake itself or purposefully leave the stage altogether? Will it change course and redirect resources when the opportunities present themselves? Or will it ignore all of the options it has to best protect its legacy and members, and instead go down screaming and flailing into the long night of irrelevance?
Don't get me wrong, I am not Debbie Downer. I firmly believe in the future value of associations, but not every single one of them is going to make it during the next 25 years and we are kidding ourselves if we think otherwise.
How about yourself? Can you make the choice to move on in your career (no matter how fantastic it is or might have been) because it's time to remake yourself again? Life is messy. Life changes course. Life pulls you on and under, and sometimes pushes you to heights you didn't know you were capable of achieving.
Are we going to be shiny happy people...holding hands? And if so, for how long? Goodbye REM.
Alcorn is principal of Alcorn Associates Management Consulting, Sacramento CA. She writes the "Association Subculture" blog, where this column first appeared.