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The Ideal Applicant

from LEAVEN, Vol. 33 No. 2, April-May 1997, p. 34
by D.D. Johnson
Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

In an effort to perpetuate La Leche League, Leaders are always on the look out for ideal Leader Applicants. We all know what the perfect prospect will be like, since each of us was once the perfect Applicant, right?

Just in case you have become a little foggy on the subject, let me refresh your memory.

As the perfect Applicant comes to her first meeting, you gather the following impressions:

  • She is smiling. She's the sort of mother who would never speak a cross word to her children.
  • She is holding the hand of a well-behaved two-year-old, nursing him discreetly when he asks.
  • She is well-groomed and well-dressed (but not flashy, of course).

During the meeting you notice:

  • She is attentive to every need of her two-year-old, nursing him discreetly when he asks.
  • She talks just the right amount at the right time. (This woman would never dream of participating in a side conversation!)
  • Other women at the meeting are naturally drawn to her.
  • She offers to become Group Librarian and/or Treasurer.
  • She borrows three books from the Group Library, returns them promptly and in short order reads every book on the LLLI Group Bibliography.
  • She has a lovely, large, centrally located home and offers to hostess the next series of meetings.

Later, when you discuss leadership with her, you find that:

  • She could have written the concepts herself.
  • She is gracefully attentive to her two-year-old and nurses him discreetly when he asks.
  • Going back to work is the last thing in the world she would consider doing.
  • She has a strong marriage to a man who loves whole-grain bread as well as his job (and he will never be transferred another city).
  • They both want a large family. She plans to be active in LLL for at least fifteen years.
  • She is one of those well-organized people. She has an empty file cabinet drawer ready for all the LLL information she knows a Leaders needs.
  • She thinks that fundraising, Planning/Evaluation Meetings, Chapter Meetings, District Workshops and Area Conferences are fun and would love to serve on a committee for each.
  • She nursed her first two children until they initiated weaning; her second was lovingly tandem nursed along with the third.
  • She thinks that going to the grocery store with three children is fun!
  • She would never make her family wait for dinner because of an LLL call.
  • She has experienced every aspect of breastfeeding except nursing twins. But she has helped a friend who nursed twins.
  • She types beautifully and her husband has access to a copy machine.

Terrific, isn't she? There's only one problem. I've never met this mother. Could it be that she doesn't exist?

All Applicants (and Leaders) are human first, so we need to look for potential, not perfection. It is our job to recognize a mother who has a basic understanding and acceptance of LLL philosophy and encourage her interest. If you are sincerely looking for the perfect Applicant to come along, you have a long wait.

At the next meeting. why not take a look at the mothers who come regularly. There may be a terrific but quiet mother tucked away in the corner. There may be a slightly frayed, semi-organized mother with a really loving approach to mothering. Or there may be a very opinionated mother who drives you crazy with questions who might blossom into a wonderful Leader with the right amount of inspiration and motivation.

Of all the time and effort you donate to LLL, surely none is more productive than the time you spend helping a new Leader develop. Besides, the more Leaders in a Group, the lighter the workload and the greater the joy for all!

D.D. Johnson's article appeared in Leaven Nov/Dec 1990, reprinted from LLL Arizona's Sunshine, Fall 1980.

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