Revisiting The Organization Man

by Brett & Kate McKay on October 12, 2008 · 29 comments

in Money & Career

Men today aren’t joiners. They’re disillusioned and cynical about society’s organizations. Politics? Riddled with corruption. Corporations? Run by greedy bastards. Church? Brimming with hypocrites. Fraternal lodges? Just a bunch of old fogies. Men in contemporary society prefer to remain aloof and apathetic, criticizing these organizations from the outside. For many men, manliness has been equated with rugged individuality; the man who does his own thing and associates as little as possible with other people. So is belonging to an organization even desirable?  Is it possible to be a part of a group without killing your manliness? In this post, we take a look at William H. Whyte’s classic, The Organization Man and what it can teach us about balancing your manly individuality with membership in an organization.

The Organization Man Circa 1956

In 1956, The Organization Man was published and it quickly became a bestseller. William H. Whyte offered a searing evaluation of the values and ethos of 1950′s society. Marked by their relative apathy to politics, philosophy, and rebellion, the so-called “Silent Generation,” was coming of age and heading out into the workforce. The goal of many a middle-class man during this time was to land a job at a plumb corporation, give his full loyalty to the organization, move up the ladder, and enjoy a secure retirement.

Whyte was alarmed at the enthusiastic willingness of these new hires to subvert their desires and their individuality to the corporation. He was most discouraged at the amount of pressure, in the form of new sociological mantras, that was leading them to do so.

Social scientists during this period proposed that man was most happy when he belonged, and that “belongingness” was one of the most important characteristics of a potential employee. This “Social Ethic” lauded the cooperative group over the individual. The virtue of the 1950′s was one’s ability to get along with others. The role of manager, the facilitator of cooperation, was greatly elevated and prized, while the role of leader was demoted. For if a group had a leader, then all members’ viewpoints were not equally valued. Whyte believed these ideas were fatal to individual identity and innovation. He argued that the elevation of “belongingness” over genius and leadership would impede both individual growth and satisfaction and the progress of society and business.

Of course the Silent Generation’s devotion to becoming an “organization man” did not last, followed as they were by the Baby Boomers, who grew up in the time of Watergate, Vietnam, and the turmoil of the civil rights movement. Disillusioned with the organizations they had been reared to respect, young people actively and openly questioned all the old pillars of society: government, religion, business, and education.  The standard of belongingness was turned on its head; a person’s worth was now based on how individualistic and independent they were from the traditional standards of conformity. It was all about doing your own thing. The value of the individual reigned supreme over that of the organization.

Organization Man defined a generation; the idea of the “Organization Man,” like that of his contemporary, “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit,” took on a life that transcended the book itself.  It left us the inedible image of the soulless corporate drone, the man in the gray flannel suit, willing to subvert his individuality to pay a mortgage. But this picture and the haze of time have obscured what Whyte’s real message was. Whyte was not entirely opposed to organizations or even conformity per se. He argued for “individualism within organization life.” “The fault is not in organization,” he said, but “in our worship of it.” At the heart of his message was the warning that when it came to the balance between individuality and “belongingness,” the pendulum had swung far too much in the direction of the latter.

Several generations later, it now seems the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. Of course times have changed. Men today understand that giving their loyalty to a corporation won’t be rewarded; they’ll probably be downsized during a merger and or when their job is outsourced. But men are loathe to join any kind of organization at all. They live increasingly private, isolated lives. They won’t join as much as a bowling league. The ideal is to be as unfettered and free as possible, without having commitments to anyone or anything. Yet they are missing out on the benefits that belonging to an organization offer a man.

Why belong to an organization?

Organizations get things done. You may feel satisfied with yourself sitting at home, reading blogs, and posting rants about the state of the world on Facebook, but you’re not really changing anything. While we love the idea of completely grassroots movements, the truth is that it’s organizations that get things done. If you look at the civil rights protests of the 1960′s, it may appear to be the ultimate grassroots movement, with one rugged individual, MLK, and thousands of other individuals getting together. But King and his followers largely worked through real organizations. Groups like the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the Congress of Racial Equality, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference planned and orchestrated the events that tore down the walls of racial prejudice and segregation. Even our most potent symbol of rugged individualism-the American cowboy-is misplaced; many cowboys joined labor organizations to protect their rights as workers on the cattle drives.

Individual effort is not without merit; indeed, one man can change history. But an organization can multiple the impact of that effort many times over. In every time and in every place, it is has been organizations of men, from the loosely confederated to the firmly contracted, who have gotten the job done.

Organizations focus your energies. A lot of men today say that they’re not religious, but they are “spiritual.” But if you ask them what they doing to foster their spirituality, the answer is often “nothing.” The same thing goes for things like being “social aware,” or “into politics.” Yet the energies needed to change yourself and the world need to be channeled by some kind of vehicle. Think about electricity; without a wire to carry the energy, you can’t use it. If you have impulses to change society or yourself, joining an organization can help focus those energies. Some kind of structure will help turn your thoughts and desires into action. The electricity of your good intentions needs a conduit, an outlet to use the power. Joining a church or mosque will focus the energies of your faith; becoming a Big Brother will focus your charitable impulses; joining a political organization will give you something tangible to do with your idealism.

Organizations motivate you. How many times do you sit at home thinking about all the good intentions and goals you have for your life and then fail to act on them? Isolating yourself is a surefire way to drift through life. You never have any responsibilities, of course, but then you never grow either. Organizations provide some accountability to your goals and a source of motivation to get better. You may think you’re an awesome runner, jogging around your neighborhood every night. But why don’t you joining a running club and have some guy around to push you to go faster and needle you when you don’t show up? Similarly, joining a service organization requires that you show up to projects that you sign up for. If you have trouble motivating yourself to reach your goals, join an organization which will help your progress.

Organizations force you to rub shoulders people unlike yourself. In our increasingly isolated lives, our social circles have gotten smaller and smaller. We work with people like us with the same level of education and we hang out with friends from similar socio-economic backgrounds. We rarely rub shoulders with people from different spheres of life. This is fatal to democratic society.  Groups of like minded people tend to move to more extreme versions of their initial position. Organizations provide you with the opportunity of getting to know a wider spectrum of people. Join a fraternal organization and befriend some old guys.  Join a diverse church and get to know people from a different side of town.

Organizations need good men. Many men stay away from joining organizations because they are disillusioned with them. They stand on the outside and criticize perceived corruption or hypocrisy. Yet this turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. When good men drop out of these organizations or refuse to join them, the criticism only becomes truer. If every virtuous man drops out of politics because he believes that it’s corrupt, politics will only become more debase. If organizations have any chance of changing, good men have to stay and work for change from within. Change will be slow, but when men stay on, join in, and work for change, it will happen.

Balancing Conformity and Individuality

There are only a few times in organization life when he can wrench his destiny into his own hands-and if he dos not fight then, he will make a surrender that will later mock him. But when is that time? Will he know the time when he sees it? By what standards is he to judge? He does feel an obligation to the group, he does sense moral constraints on his free will. If he goes against the group, is he being courageous-or just stubborn? Helpful-or selfish? Is he, as he so often wonders, right after all? It is in the resolution of a multitude of such dilemmas, I submit, that the real issue of individualism lies today. ~ William Whyte, The Organization Man

Of course, organizations should not be looked upon as an unmitigated good. A man should join an organization which benefits him, but still allows him to hold onto his individuality. A man must acknowledge that it is sometimes not an easy line to walk. Whyte believed that the 1950′s Social Ethic was dead wrong in its denial of the conflict between the individual and society. This tension will always exist. Whyte believed that every individual should face these conflicts and wisely negotiate them. Here are some guidelines for balancing the tension between allegiance to self and loyalty to an organization

Never blindly join an organization. The Hare Krishnas may be friendly and offer you free food, but don’t join up until you’ve done your homework. Don’t join things on an emotional whim.  Take your time, and choose an organization that lines up with values and will help you become a better man.

Be indispensable. The more indispensable you are to an organization, especially a business or corporation, the more freedom you will have to be yourself and dissent when appropriate. If you are a cog in the wheel, and there are 100 more cogs who could do the same job, then you are under more pressure to do exactly what you boss says. If you’re hard to replace, or you know you could be hired somewhere else very easily, you’ll be freer to retain your individuality.

Prize your individuality. Whyte’s beef with the 1950′s Social Ethic was its belief that “belongingness was the ultimate need of the individual.” Don’t get so caught up with your group that you come to believe that it is always true that what is good for the group is good for the individual. Whyte advises to give “your energy to organizations, but not too much allegiance.”

Be aware of your conformity.

To be aware of one’s conformity is to be aware that there is some antithesis between oneself and the demands of the system (being aware of one’s conformity doesn’t make you a conformist). This does not itself stimulate independence, but it is a necessary condition of it. ~ The Organization Man

Strive for a healthy sense of self-awareness; regularly evaluate why you’re doing what you’re doing and how okay you are with it.

Don’t give up individuality now in hopes of regaining it later. Whyte spoke of men on the bottom of the corporate ladder who chafed at the amount of kowtowing they had to do. Yet they labored under the impression that if they put in the time and worked their way up to the corner office, they’d have more freedom to be themselves and use their own ideas. The truth then, as it is today, it that those higher up, while sometimes given a bit more leeway, are still under constraints to conform to their role. Think about it: if you have a job in which you constantly conform and act like someone else, then  when you finally get promoted, you’ll be put in a position suited for your alter ego, not the real you.

If an organization fundamentally violates your values, if it forces you to make choices that compromise your conscience, then it is time to leave. True loyalty is a manly virtue in short supply. Don’t bail from an organization because of a rough patch, or new policies with which you disagree, or your offense at a fellow member or some behind the scenes politicking. These kinds of things happen in every organization. Stay on and be a force for change. On the other hand, don’t turn a blind eye to grievous misdoings. If an organization fundamentally violates your values or conscience, then it is times to make an exit.

Remember that the group is not the ultimate source of creativity. Whyte felt that the belief that groups were the best source of innovation was a crock. Groups are inherently non-creative, he argued, because members must strive to compromise, agree, and come to a consensus. The ideas which result tend to reflect the lowest common denominator between the group’s members. Don’t rely on an organization for your ideas. Formulate your own thoughts and then bring them to the group for debate and refinement.

Remember that outward conformity can sometimes be a secret weapon. The greatest catalyst for change may be the man who outwardly conforms while “secretly” working for change.  Whyte wrote:

And how important really, are these uniformities to the central issue of individualism? We must not let the outward forms deceive us. If individualism involves following one’s destiny as one’s own conscience directs, it must for most of us be a realizable destiny, and a sensible awareness of the rules of the game can be a condition of individualism as well as a constant constraint upon it. The man who drives a Buick Special and lives in a ranch-type house just like hundreds of other ranch-style houses can assert himself as effectively and courageously against his particularly society as the bohemian against his particular society. He usually does not, it is true, but if he does, the surface uniformities can serve quite well as protective coloration. The organization people who are best able to control their environment rather than be controlled by it, as well aware that they are not too easily distinguishable from the others in his outward obeisances paid to the good opinions of others. And that is one of the reasons they do control. They disarm society.

When an organization does not meet our expectations and we become disillusioned with it, the temptation is simply to leave it behind. But we probably joined that organization in the first place because we believed in its foundational principles. Those principles may now be obscured by policies or leaders with which we do not agree. But by leaving, you leave behind any possibility of redeeming that organization. If all the men with the vision of what that organization could become depart, then it will never reach its potential. Sometimes it’s better to stay and outwardly conform, while actively working for change. Others in the organization will trust you, as you seem to be with the program, and yet really you will be subverting the status quo behind the scenes.

For example, I had a friend who worked for a small non-profit organization that monitored human rights abuses in foreign sweatshops. He did valuable work there, but his work had a small impact. He was offered a job to work for Nike, helping to improve their sweatshops. While my friend was loathe to join a corporation with a such a record of worker abuses, in many ways by “conforming” to be a Nike employee, he would actually gain more influence in changing the industry as whole.

How do you know if you’ve conformed too much to the organization? How do you know if you’ve cooperated too much or surrendered too much of yourself? Whyte defined the following as the “terms of the struggle:”

To control’s one destiny and not be controlled by it; to know which way the path with fork and to make the running oneself; to have some index of achievement that one can dispute-concrete and tangible for all to see, not dependent on the attitudes of others. It is an independence he will never have in full measure, but he must forever seek it.

What do you think? How do balance being part of a group and maintaining your individuality? Drop a line in the comment box and let us know.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lico October 12, 2008 at 9:09 pm

Very interesting and helpful! I’m an organization man myself. Thank you for writing such a wonderful article.

2 pierre-luc gelineau October 12, 2008 at 9:20 pm

As always, AoM brings us a very inspirating post … as the director of a student project at a university i wish all the members of my team would read this and be as motivated I as am now…!

3 Jonathon Howard October 12, 2008 at 9:42 pm

How about listing some good organizations for good men? There are fraternities that will just make you look a drunken fool and give nothing back to the community. While there are really good organizations that help their members and their communities.

4 John Michael Cannon October 12, 2008 at 11:16 pm

Brett & Kate McKay,

Thank you for such a well thought out post! You are not afraid of putting it all out there and “making” us read. I like that. This is well written.

I’m thinking about your post in how it applies to social media and the economy today. I’m reminded of Chris Brogan’s post today, THE BEAUTY OF PIRATE SHIPS, http://tinyurl.com/3rdc77 He speaks of the balance needed between individuality and belonging, in todays seemingly downward economy. It’s inspiring and he does a really good job. I hope he gets the chance to read your post and comment.

I’m also reminded of Stephen Covey’s concept of the trim-tab in The 8th Habit. “A trim tab,” Covey said, “is the small rudder, that turns the big rudder, that turns the ship.” Sometimes, if we are proactive individuals within a group, we can create a positive change on a big scale… whether that be in a structured corporation or a fluid social group. You wrote, “Sometimes it’s better to stay and outwardly conform, while actively working for change.” I wholeheartedly agree! “Leadership is a choice, not a position.” ~ Stephen Covey

Thank you for this blast from the past. I enjoy learning about things like this.

~ John Michael Cannon

5 J.O. Wilbur October 13, 2008 at 4:03 am

A good article – I hope it will spur some to action.

I’ve The most effective organizations are those whose members have individually chosen and committed to the ideals embodied by the group and its goals. If your organization feels like it doesn’t align with your goals, attempt to realign it. If you succeed you will have exhibited real leadership and if you don’t you will have strengthened your belief in your own ideals

My main hope for this article was that it would address the unfortunate trend of attrition in the men’s traditional service and fraternal organizations in contemporary (U.S.) society, which it didn’t directly. As trends indicate, we will soon loose many of the organizations which have been agents for social, political, and spiritual change within our communities & our country. These organizations have existed for scores to hundreds of years and have done immeasurable good for their members and society. It will be a sad day for our nation when the remote control and the mouse replace Robert’s Rules as our generation’s tools of democracy.

6 Eric October 13, 2008 at 7:31 am

Very inspiring post. However, I disagree wholeheartedly with organizations being the answer to your statement: “A lot of men today say that they’re not religious, but they are ‘spiritual’. But if you ask them what they doing to foster their spirituality, the answer is often ‘nothing’.”

My spirituality is personal and private, and this is one area I intend to keep that way. I have no problem donating my free time to help churches, but I do not belong to one and don’t feel like I should be obligated to.

What do I do to foster my spirituality? I try to live my life as an example to others; I try to learn from my mistakes; I try to accept both my failures and successes gracefully; I try to help those around me. Most of all, I try to remain in wonder and awe of the gift of life and use it as best as I can.

As an open-minded agnostic, I do a lot of reading about many religions, and try to get to the essence of what those religions teach without getting hung up on the dogma. I am respectful of others religions and am open to the possibility that any of them could be valid. To me, this is a very fulfilled spiritual life.

7 Brett October 13, 2008 at 7:36 am

@JO-

Men’s fraternal organizations is such a important topic that we felt like it deserved an entire post of its own. We’ve been researching that post and will have it up sometimes in the next couple of months.

8 Brett October 13, 2008 at 7:58 am

@Eric-

I don’t think you need a formal church to foster spirituality, but I do think some amount of structured activities are beneficial in reaching that goal. That might involve mediation, spending time in nature, prayer, study, music or service. And I think organizations can help you get motivated to do those things, although obviously, much of it can come from personal effort and dedication.

9 Eric October 13, 2008 at 8:10 am

That’s a valid point. Organization is one way to the goal, I think I had a problem with it being presented as the only way to make spirituality work. Maybe I read too much into that.

I definitely do most of the things on the list above: meditation, time with nature, study, music, and service. I don’t spend time in prayer but meditation is a similar avenue for me.

10 John Michael Cannon October 13, 2008 at 9:42 am

“Organizations need good men. Many men stay away from joining organizations because they are disillusioned with them. They stand on the outside and criticize perceived corruption or hypocrisy. Yet this turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. When good men drop out of these organizations or refuse to join them, the criticism only becomes truer. If every virtuous man drops out of politics because he believes that it’s corrupt, politics will only become more debase. If organizations have any chance of changing, good men have to stay and work for change from within. Change will be slow, but when men stay on, join in, and work for change, it will happen.”

In the Christian community, it has been noted how men avoid going to church because it tries to feminize them. The book, Wild at Heart, address the problem of the Christian “nice guy”. If churches wussify men… then it is a recipe for disaster for men to abandon churches. That’s when they are needed the most… though not to just sit and do nothing… but to fight against the wussification of men.

11 Matthew October 13, 2008 at 11:00 am

Excellent post. This is why I am a new subscriber.

My father still is a member of the Fraternal Order of Moose, and he has a golden statue of the “Moose of the Year” from some time ago. In this age of people changing employers every few years, of transient moves from community to community and church to church, participation in an organization allows a man to grow and provide leadership to his community, and to his family and friends.

It seems all too often that the modern nuclear family hides in its den, constantly entertained by television and computer, while the intrapersonal relationships that everyone ranks as so important are ignored.

12 Abby October 13, 2008 at 11:31 am

What, no one’s even brought up “Bowling Alone” yet? Well, here I go:

http://www.amazon.com/Bowling-Alone-Collapse-American-Community/dp/0743203046

@John Michael Cannon@John Michael Cannon – While it is important to note that many men cite being “feminized” as a reason for leaving the Church, perhaps this is more a problem of how we define masculinity as a whole in society, both inside and outside of the church? If we look to Christ as an example for how reach the heights of human potential it’s easy to find many characteristics that are incongruous with those things that are often held up as Masculine ideals: Patience and a strong will instead of brute force, an acknowledgment of the interconnectedness of all living things instead of isolating self-sufficiency, communal celebration of God’s gifts instead of rejoicing in a “winner/loser” scenario, etc. Concluding that Churches “wussify” men basically forces the Church to adhere to a secular (and damaging!) standard of masculinity instead of forming a vision of masculinity based in Christ. This isn’t an attempt to turn men into women or vice versa, simply an indication that there are some serious problems with how we box in Masculine and Feminine expression. If Churches are paying attention and adhering to the New Testament, they’re bound to ruffle many feathers in a world that’s still determined to pin Human gender traits on sex alone. If valuing community for the survival of all (instead of the survival of a select few) is a “feminized” trait, then I sure am glad I was born female!

13 hoosierdad October 13, 2008 at 12:34 pm

I have always thought that society today (menfolk in general) is too busy with families and work to dedicate the time. Things like the Moose Lodge, the VFW, etc have fallen away and have been replaced with hanging out with the family at soccer pitch then stopping by What-A-Burger for dinner then going home to bed. It is hard to dedicate time to outside organizations when you are so tasked at home.

I work at a college and I get my “organzation man” fix here at work. I have an immense network of contacts and friends. I am a member in two different professional and two community and service related organizations, but I cannot commit any time or energy to be active on their boards. For me, this is enough.

14 Cardo October 13, 2008 at 1:18 pm

@Jonathon Howard

Check out your local Masonic Lodge or Knights of Columbus. Lions club even.

15 Frank October 13, 2008 at 1:32 pm

I second Jonathon’s suggestion to check out your Masonic Lodge, Knights of Columbus or the Lions Club.

I’ve been a member of the Masonic fraternity for 12 years — I come from a long line of Masons so that seemed to be the organization to seek out and join. I’ve made some wonderful friendships, and have had an opportunity to use the leadership skills I’ve picked up throughout my life to run some great projects. (Working for a small company, I don’t have as much opportunity in the work place to do that).

We have our charities that we support, and we try to enrich the lives of our members’ families as well, by providing good and wholesome activities for the family. Masonry strives to make good men better.

But, it need not be the Masonic fraternity that you join — find a good one, and take a chance on making new friends and contributing to your community!

And for what it is worth, we’re beginning to see an influx of younger men (say 21 to 25 years of age). Perhaps the next generation is a generation of “joiners.”

16 Jonathon Howard October 13, 2008 at 1:34 pm

@ Frank

I started to join the Mason’s before I was talked out if by friends… It is something I regret to this day! I’ve been told that I can no longer apply as I failed to have three successful interviews… Is this true? Or can I return to the lodge explain myself and hopefully become a contributing member?

17 Hrimgrimnir October 13, 2008 at 4:44 pm

@Jonathon Howard

It really depends a great deal on where you live. The best advice I could give is this – contact the local grand lodge in the area in which you live.

I have been a mason for 4 years, and I enjoy it immensely. I live in Alberta Canada, and can enlighten you on our processes only. Each state or province in every country has rules that differ slightly.

1) the candidate applies to join the lodge
2) the lodge votes to approve the member (usually a formality in a larger town – unless you light random fires and kick dogs you move on in the process
3) a committee is appointed to interview the candidate and discuss his thoughts on masonry and what masonry is all about
4) the committee reports back and if favourable the initiation process moves on.

In general the qualifications are simple – a man must be of lawful age, of “good report and well recommended” and believe in a god of some sort.

Look into it – I can only relate how many of us younger men are starting to get into something bigger than ourselves. The “old fogies” have great stories to tell.

18 Nudels October 13, 2008 at 5:07 pm

To quote the great prophet Groucho:

“I don’t want to join a club that will accept me as a member.”

19 Steve October 14, 2008 at 12:11 pm

Another top-notch post – thank you

20 Dennis October 16, 2008 at 6:35 am

May I use snipets of this article to help recruit some of today’s younger vets into the VFW? VFW Posts all over the country are closing down despite the influx of eligable people. I think if more people would read this article it would really make them think about what they really do with their spare time. It is also my theory that the younger members are going to be able to make these type of organizations more efficient and worthwhile as they will ‘modernize’ the ways things are done inside these organizations through the use of computers.

21 Paul October 16, 2008 at 7:55 pm

If you live in a town with a volunteer fire department, consider joining. Most have a social organization which contributes to the community via projects or donations. VFD’s are facing the same issues of declining membership.

I enjoyed this post and look forward to the future one on fraternal organizations.

22 Kurt Eger November 30, 2008 at 12:33 am

I feel that society still acts in accordance with these views and that this is not a message about men as much as it is about humans in general. I feel all the same angst and disillusionment about society as is indicated on this site and in this book, but I don’t believe that women are void of these same emotions and opinions. The writer William H. Whyte may have targeted men back when this book was written, but there is no way 50 years ago that anyone would have seen the liberal expansion of this society in all directions. When this book was first published was prior to society being made mature with the assasination of such key figures as John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm X, etc. Society was idealistic and it was naive, all the things we lost when these men were killed for political reasons. This book was from a time before America had to look in the mirror with open eyes and see what we’ve become, before we had to admit our faults and correct for them. The message is still true, but the audience is broader.

23 Frank February 11, 2009 at 9:47 am

We are forgetting the role of World War 2 in forming male roles for the 50s. In an era with a universal military obligation, what it meant to be a man was to be an organization man. You submitted to rank, hierarchy, and authority and willingly put your life in its hands.

When men came home from WW2, they wanted to leave the military life behind, but it had changed men and masculinity. Individuality was a lot less important than security and being a part of the new, stable, prosperous society you were coming back to.

With very few exceptions, young men had entered manhood as young servicemembers, and older men’s lives had been thwarted by 1930s social-economic conditions. There was very little alternative for either but to go with the program, a civilian society with an increasingly authoritarian character.

24 Greg October 12, 2012 at 10:01 am

I think the big issue here is time. In the 1950′s the work day was 8 hours, and wives were home taking care of children so Dad could come in have a bite kiss the kids and run out to lodge or whatever group he belonged to. Since women joined the workforce salaries have stayed stagnant so two people usually work now in a family leaving dad no time for lodge and no time for mom to be the sole caretaker of the house and kids. I am a mason, and although our membership is fine it’s finding people that have time to be active in the fraternity, we’ve had plenty of nights with just enough people to open and close the lodge and it does seem like a waste. So even within any fraternity there are always the same members that are lucky enough to have the time to come out and members that never show due to the fact that they have a 10 hour work day and a wife that they have to help when they get in because she’s just as tired from working as they are.

25 Elkhound October 12, 2012 at 10:44 am

Anent the VFW, I have heard Viet Nam veterans tell of how when they went to join the VFW, they were made to feel unwelcome. I heard variants of being told by WW II veterans, “We beat the Japs & the Krauts, the two most powerful war-machines on the planet—and you got your butts whipped by a bunch of barefoot gooks in cotton pyjamas!” (Sorry for the offensive language–I’m just quoting.) If that sort of thing was as widespread as anecdotal evidence shows, no wonder the VFW is hurting for members as the WWII and Korea generation dies off.

26 Brooke C. November 16, 2012 at 3:22 pm

I don’t think this passage stressed enough about the thin line between individuality and conformity. It takes a strong, yet driven man to conform and a man who knows what he needs in order to get what he deserves. Which pushes his individuality. So in a sense, a organization man focuses not fully on an organization or union but uses it in a manner to achieve what he desires. And a man who know how to please those of the organization while further his wants and needs will result in conquering the cooperate ladder. The line in this passage, “Don’t get so caught up with your group that you come to believe that it is always true that what is good for the group is good for the individual,” I believe is written incorrectly. It should value more the ideas of , “Allow your desires and needs to push your individual success as well as organization success.” I say this because men need a feeling of either they are needed to stay, or staying involved betters themselves by achieving either their desires or needs. In this case I believe strongly in the line “If you’re hard to replace, or you know you could be hired somewhere else very easily, you’ll be freer to retain your individuality.” Because once you master the ability to balance conformity and individuality you have become the ultimate organization man and other will notice you better yourself and the community. AND this passage refers to women not only men.

27 Sir G February 27, 2013 at 5:36 pm

I have to agree with the writer of this post for two reasons: it was well prepared for the audience and I agree with the context of the writing. One thing I would slightly disagree is the fact that individualism affects all men. From my own experience, now-a-day, there are a lot of men who have a pretty good balance between their individualism and their conformity, although for the most majority, men tend to be more on the individual side.
I really like that that this topic brought out a lot of sides and throughout, it remained neutral. When it was sharing about religious groups, it wasn’t forcing someone to do this or that, but rather it was encouraging every man to do something. The approach was more like, “get involved in something that you are interested in whether it’s a church group, organization, club, marathons, etc. It doesn’t matter what it is, just get involved in something that you like.” I also like that it talked about a balance in between the individualism and conformity. You have to have both in your life and only doing so you will contribute to the bigger picture of your conscious.
I agree a lot with the context because I experienced a lot of this in my life. I m a Christian and for the past two years I started becoming involved a lot in our church, specifically with our youth group. I have noticed that only when you step out of your comfort zone and actually begin doing something that you start realizing how much you can get done. Since I started getting involved with our youth group, we organized Summer and Winter Camps, Valentine parties for the girls, the band for our worship group, and many smaller youth activities. These are projects that I look forward doing and being involved with. I realized had it not been for me stepping it up and getting involved, I would never have experienced what I did.

28 Sarah Bjornstedt February 27, 2013 at 9:57 pm

“He argued that the elevation of “belongingness” over genius and leadership would impede both individual growth and satisfaction and the progress of society and business.” This explains it all. This all connects to the theme that we all want to belong somewhere, even if it is not our ideal situation. This is the exact same as today though, as we still all want to belong to something, even if we criticize it at some point. And no, this blog relates to men and women, as we also want to belong in things.

29 Santos Zani December 8, 2013 at 2:08 am

Do you know how I avoid duplicate iCal alerts? (Apple support does not, so far…) I think b/c of iCloud calendar sharing amongst my husband and i, I’m getting two alerts for every event on the iMac and on the iPhone. anything is up to date and i have got a new MacBook Pro and the new iPhone 4s.

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