Are you ChapterShifting?

January 1, 2020 John R. Hatfield 0 Comments

Change or Die
Thomas Edgley

“The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water molds itself to the pitcher.”
Chinese proverb

ChapterShifting is seeing the need and having the ability and willingness to make a change of a place, position, or direction for the purpose of having a positive impact, or even to survive. It is learning how to mold to a new pitcher, adapting to a new and different circumstances.

The Economist Intelligence Unit identified three leadership qualities that will be important in the years ahead: “the ability to motivate staff (35 percent); the ability to work well across cultures (34 percent); and the ability to facilitate change (32 percent).”

ChapterShifting is knowing how to facilitate change, it will be the single most important leadership quality for every fraternity and sorority. The NEW NORMAL of what it means to REINVENT GREEK every fraternity man and sorority woman must understand shifting and take the steps to SHIFT.

This is true in our current situation with the Coronavirus, but as Greek-letter organizations it is also true as we carve out the NEW NORMAL of what is Greek from our free fall the last few years. Only the fittest will survive, those who are adapting are flourishing and those who aren’t are ending. Every campus can attest to the number of chapters, fraternities (especially) that are no more.

Nine Key Truths to ChaperShift

1) To ChaperShift you must be willing to reread the situation and adapt, change to the current reality.

Adaptability is seeing the necessity and being willing to change or be changed because of current situations and circumstances.

Wise leaders understand they must be nibble, able to discern the situation and adapt accordingly to survive. They must be updateable. We will soon see the results of the coronavirus on whether Greek letter organizations adapted, created new strategies and ideas in respect to recruitment. Everything either rises or falls based on leadership. Those chapters with adaptable and creative leaders, who pushed through the obstacle, asked for help from others and did not allow fear to shut down and sabotage the process, changed their current reality and won the fight.

ChapterShifting adaptability opens new possibilities, new opportunities. The status quo is no longer the status quo.


  • In respect to the coronavirus what needs to change, how do you adapt to your new reality with chapter, exec, recruitment, new member education, philanthropic, civic service, academics, J-Board, brotherhood, mental wellness?
  • Do you have a diversity and inclusion chair, and what new opportunity could this open up?
  • How is fear stopping recruitment teams from navigating the current reality of the coronavirus?

2) ChapterShifting will take a lot of courage because of fear

Remember courage isn’t the lack of fear it’s what you do in the midst of fear. Fear unleashes a variety of trolls. The troll of control, the troll of paralysis, the troll of mask wearing, and of course the troll of failure. Fear needs to be recognized for what is and what it does.

The voice of FEAR says, don’t try that, you will fail.

The voice of FEAR says, it’s safer to not leave the known, the familiar.

The voice of FEAR says, people won’t support that direction.

The voice of FEAR says, there are too many obstacles.

The voice of FEAR says, it won’t work that way.

The voice of FEAR says, that’s not what young men or women are looking for in a fraternity or sorority.

The voice of fear says, how would we recruit being alcohol-free in our facility?

The voice of fear says, no one will get on a zoom call for recruitment.

The voice of fear says, texting is better, safer, less risky than showing faces and having a conversation electronically.

3)  To ChapterShift, is to continually learn, unlearn, and relearn.

To learn, unlearn, and relearn is the natural rhythm of life. But we refuse to acknowledge and embrace this truth. We even fight it. But ChapterShifting requires it.

We must let go and grab forward. To be willing to let go of what worked yesterday and grab on to what will work today. It is adopting a posture of being a lifetime learner, to critically think and be a student of the culture, the current situation, and season of life. It is being willing to let go of an outdated tradition and create a new one. In respect to chapter education or how to create respect among the freshman or perhaps what does the little brother-big brother, little sis-big sis ritual look like currently, not what it looked like twenty years ago. To re-evaluate its purpose and is it fulfilling its purpose. To currently be willing to unlearn and relearn a new method in respect to recruitment or civic service.


  • What are you doing as a Greek Letter chapter that comes from YESTERDAY that you need to let go and create TODAY and why?
  • What do you need to unlearn to relearn from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and  2000’s that holds you hostage?

 4) ChapterShifting our stories 

Stories tell of our collective way of being together, of belonging to each other as a chapter. The stories that we tell each other, and others tell about us, have power. How has the (past or present) STORIES identified you as a chapter? Do you like these stories definition of your chapter? What are the stories you are telling each other currently?

What are the stories you want told in the future about you as a chapter, with each other, and by others outside your chapter? Changing our relationship with the PAST, will involve the new conversations we have in who we are in the present and who we are becoming in the future.

Sorority sisterhood and fraternity brotherhood is built by the stories of success shared and celebrated with each other and collectively. Perhaps you need to RECLAIM your story.

5) ChapterShifing speaks of possibilities

Transforming a chapter begins when we have conversations around possibilities. Possibilities inspire hope, gives freedom to change, creates a new direction, a new energy, and gives new meaning. Possibilities leave the status quo behind; it lifts members creative juices and gives members the platform to think and create outside the current box of how the chapter is defined and how it relates. It brings aliveness, a freshness, and wholeness that were missing. Relatedness takes on a new dimension, as more voices come to shape direction of possibilities. When this happens, authorship brings ownership, brings responsibly and accountability. Be careful, having conversations around possibilities is not assessing the problems and creating a solution.


  • What possibilities can your chapter create together? 
  • Who do you want to become as a chapter in the shift?

6) ChapterShifting understands yesterday had value, but today must be lived now.

Remember Babe Ruth’s statement, “Yesterday’s home run doesn’t win today’s game.” The Babe held the record for the most home runs and he also held the record for the most strikeouts. ChapterShifting looks and assesses yesterday and acknowledges its value and chooses to bring some of those parts into today’s culture with a new form. To understand you can’t live yesterday, today. Yesterday should not be causing chapters to stumble and fall today. Today will look different and that’s not bad. Sisterhood and Brotherhood events yesterday were awesome, but they are not awesome today. Create current awesomeness. Sadly, some alumni tell us today can’t be as good as yesterday and that you must go back. They are wrong. Let them have their own memories and may you create better ones.

7) ChapterShifting understands the times and timing.

If you do not understand the times you lose. And, if you do not understand timing you lose. Timing decisions reveal exceptional leaders and exceptional leaders understand the times and make informed decisions.

This is where the leader understands and discerns and then seizes the moment.

When you see the stock market rising, you missed the moment, you lost.

If you do not have an Emotional/Mental wellness chair, you do not understand the times. Emotional and mental wellness is the number one reason students leave the university.

If your executive board has the same eight members that comprised it twenty years ago, you do not understand the times. 

8) ChapterShifting happens when the leader’s vision suddenly enlarges, they see a newer reality. 

The picture shifts, sometimes 30 degrees and other times 180 degrees and yup sometimes 360 degrees. Bottom line, the chapter becomes vibrant, relative, and has life and meaning again when the vision suddenly comes into focus or a bigger new reality emerges. We always need to be recalibrating, its good leadership. What type of culture allows this to happen and what type of culture stagnates this from happening and why? Your current reality is not the reality that was three years ago. If you do not see this truth, you have no oars in the water, you’re going nowhere…fast. Everyone is acutely aware that last year’s reality has dramatically changed into this year’s current reality in respect to the coronavirus. The vision suddenly changed and for some, it enlarged, and others it grew smaller.

9) ChapterShifting has its enemies.

1) Alumni, hands down, sadly, but there are a few who get it.

2) Wrong culture prevailing and establishing unhealthy communities.

3) The sub-culture rules the chapter.

4) Traditions that kill, destroy, cripple, and sabotage.

5) Unhealthy stories of the past need to die.

6) Lack of possibility conversations.

7) Outdated, toxic traditions

7) Poor, ill-equipped, leaders both in the chapter positions, advising positions, and national positions.

 ChapterShifting requires participation, be the change, every member must be committed to the shift, it takes everyone, we are in this together. 

Remember, new wine can’t be put into old wine skins, it bursts the wineskin. Many chapters keep trying to do this instead of making new wine skins for new wine. Recently, a chapter put together their new wine for a ritual that had gone south, but they were trying to put it into an old wineskin. I told them the wine skin was wrong, it’s just a matter of time and it will burst, go back and create a different wine skin. The following week they came back with a different and better wine skin for their new wine. They ChapterShifted.

John R. Hatfield

John R. Hatfield

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Are you ChapterShifting? was last modified: June 21st, 2021 by John R. Hatfield