A Time for Change

My post to the Blackmist Brigade forum on 30 April 2011


On Thursday evening, 28 April 2011, I directed our officers to find a successor to take over the leadership of the guild from me.

The news was shocking to them as I'm sure it's shocking to all of you.  But this is nothing rash, nothing spur-of-the-moment.  It's been building for a long time.  There are a few symptoms to the problem.  The biggest one is my increasing impatience and intolerance for the people problems that come up in the guild.  Lately, our officers have had to point out alternative views to me when discussing such things that I would have been able to see for myself a year ago without their help.

Another problem is my failure to adjust the guild's goals with the release of Cata.  Getting Arthas down was my main focus as WotLK closed.  We did it and it was grand.  It was my great work to organize you all to that end and I'm proud of you.  Now that Arthas is gone, we have a new enemy:  Deathwing.  But I somehow feel disconnected from it, as if my work is done with Arthas and this dragon problem is for someone else to resolve.  This is all well and good because each of us must choose what is important and not,  to us as individuals.  But as guild leader, I don't have that luxury.  I have to lead and I've not been doing it.  Despite having over 20 accounts in the guild, I failed to organize even one 10-man raid.  It's convenient to point to people's RL issues keeping them from the raids, but a contributing factor has also been my own lack of motivation to lead.

There are other things, but we can cut to the chase and sum the problem up in one sentence:  I've been the guild leader for three years and I've reached my limit.  It's time for a change.  I did my part to create the guild and hold it together and perhaps no one else could have done it better.  But, just as with real life organizations, it often comes to pass that the organization's founder is not the best person to continue leading it.  Times change.  So do people.

We've all heard the saying, "absolute power corrupts absolutely."  What I've discovered as a guild leader and a leader of people in the real world is that the phrase is just as true if you remove the two "absolutely" words.  "Power corrupts".  No matter how good a leader you are, you cannot effectively lead forever.  The act of leading takes its toll on you slowly and over a long period of time.  A true democratic government recognizes this truth and that is why their presidents / chancellors / prime ministers have term limits.

After three years, I'm not burned out.  I believe there is quite a lot of good work I could still do.  I might even be able to pull myself out of my "cata funk" and lead you all toward Deathwing.  I believe I could still do all this.  But I also believe that, at this point, someone else can do it better.

I'd like to offer you words from my very good friend, Valdor.  Oldtimers amomgst you remember him from our Silverbrand Cohort days.  Despite not playing the game, he still has access to our forum and actually reads it once in a while.  Valdor has been my constant advisor for years and he offered this insight when he talked with me and I'll print it here because I can't say it better:

Anyway, I've been reading a book on personality theory and chemicals and such, and from the description you gave me yesterday I got the impression (especially since you said you didn't make any other goals, and from saying you noticed you were becoming more sarcastic) that you may have underwent a sort of slow, seeping chronic overload of negative emotions as GM.   A troublesome member here, a caustic e-mail from another guild that refuses to collaborate there, frustration about complaints that you raid too much, or don't raid enough, or don't RP enough or whatever.  Of course, RL is awash with negative experiences, but as a guild leader you may get like a royal dollop, and even if your mental constitution is strong and you can eliminate 99,9% of negative feelings in one day, the 0,1% keeps accumulating. So every guild leader needs at the very least a break from responsibilities and worries from time to time, to get those accumulated 0,1%s out of his or her system.  Abdicating may be the mentally most effective way to get that break, and most people can do without leading a guild for a few months, half a year, or even a year.

Your officers succeeded in finding my successor:  Franz "True Worgen" Wulfenbach.  He will take over officially on Monday, 02 May 2011.  Wulf is a born leader.  He's been an officer for a long time if we count his previous stint on Herul.  He's led raids and highly interesting Muster events.  I can think of no one more deserving and ready for this position.

I promised Wulf that I will remain in the guild as part of a transition period so that I may help him settle into his new role.  We believe that a week is about right for this.  After that, I must depart.  I'm sorry, Troops, but it cannot be otherwise.  It is simply not possible for the new Chief to properly exercise his role -- without any feeling of restraint, observation or even the implication of second-guessing -- if the former chief is lurking in the shadows.  Wulf needs and deserves the opportunity to develop and exercise his own style of leadership -- he cannot do that if I'm looking over his shoulder.  And the rest of you won't accept him completely as your leader if I am ever-present.

My plans?  I have none.  I haven't got a raid guild waiting to snap me up or anything like that.  I'm not quitting the game.  I don't rule out joining another guild, but my thoughts are not on that for now.  About the only thing I'm certain I'll do in the shortterm is reacquaint myself with my neglected lady, take her to some secluded, wooded area on a fine spring evening, enjoy a picnic by some calm, sparkling lake ... and then make love to her until we bounce off the trees.  Yes.  That's a plan.

Remember, Troops, that a tapestry is made up of many threads.  Some of the threads fall off with normal wear and tear.  But no one thread is the tapestry.  No one member is "the guild" -- not even the Chief.

So farewell to the Chief ... and all hail the Chief!

Elune and Cenarius be with you all.