Leading Your Nonprofit with Hope, Not Optimism
|Does this box need anything else to fill it? Or is it good to go?|
A recent post by the inimitable Seth Godin poses the question What’s in the box? The point of the post is to make us question our quest for perfection and all the needless worrying we put into imagining every thing that can possibly go wrong. He encourages us to worry less; just open the box and see what’s in it. Good to consider. Yet this presumes there is a filled box to be opened.
There will be nothing in the box until we put it there. And perhaps a greater challenge than opening the box is filling it.
Imagine. You plan to send some cookies to your college sophomore. You make a batch of gorgeous macarons. Then you worry they’re too fancy. The next day, before putting them in a shipping box, you decide to add some chocolate chip since they’re ‘safe’. The next day you decide, as long as you’re bothering to ship these, you’ll add some brownies and oatmeal because he may want to share with his roommates. The next day you realize it’s almost Valentine’s Day, so he’ll probably expect some heart-shaped sugar cookies. Now you’re getting into the “project-ness” of this endeavor, and decide you’ll make a few more kinds so it’ll be a really spectacular presentation! Great fun, yes… but, what has happened to the macarons by the end of the week?
The old stuff gets stale. While it’s true that sometimes things are not ready for prime time, the reverse is also true. Things can get past their prime.
The key to success is finding balance. Between old and new. Between good and perfect.
|Might this concept be a bit overdone?|
Between done enough and overdone. My sister once took a sculpture class and had created a beautiful bust for her final project. She worked on it in the studio for weeks. The night before it was due; her professor stopped by around 9:00 p.m. and told her how wonderful it was. She had an “A” already. But she didn’t think it was perfect. She stayed and worked some more… into the wee, wee hours… fine-tuning the jaw, redoing the nose, fixing up the plane of the brow… until her professor found her there, asleep at the work table, early the next morning. The bust was completely destroyed. She’d remade it and remade it, growing increasingly tired, and making more and more mistakes until she ultimately lost her perspective and her way.
Don’t lose perspective. Doing something for the sake of doing something, ultimately, leads us back to nothing. Fill your box and get it delivered so it’s worth something to someone. Otherwise, it’s nothing more than an unfinished project. One of the problems with our disruptive technology and information overload is that we can go on endlessly; we become in danger of losing sight of our original goal. We pursue information for information’s sake. You may feel it’s giving you a purpose to work towards a meaningless (if you stop to think about it) goal. Think again.
|What will you put in your beautiful box?|
There are many strategies to help you decide what to put into your box; then close it:
§ Plan; think ahead about what you want to put in your box, rather than wandering aimlessly through the mall.
If you don’t put something in the box, there’s no gift for someone else to open. Remember, it’s the thought that counts the most. Put thought into your projects and do your best, but do not over think.