Thinking Small, Rich Paschall
Some organizations think big and do big. You may know such organizations. You may wonder how they accomplish so much. How can a social service agency, school, church, or park district pull off grand events with a small budget and a small staff? Yet, there are quite a number that do it. What is the difference between the successes and those that think big and fail? What is the difference between thinking bag, and those who just think small?
Many think big but fail because they aren’t willing to do the work. They want to be triumphant, but they are just hoping it will somehow happen. They rely on others stepping up to do what they should be doing.
The truth is that those running an event must step forward. They need to recruit volunteers to do what needs doing to guarantee success. Some leaders are willing to do this, but many others rely on dumb luck. Dumb being the operative word. It’s the dedication to the task that’s important, not luck.
You have to work harder to find potential leaders and willing workers than in years past. So many things compete for our attention. Life is busier than it used to be … and then, there are the apps on our phones, tablets and laptops. We may not be willing to devote the large chunk of time required to make a successful event. If it took five calls to get two people to help out 20 years ago, maybe it takes 10 calls now. Or 20. Is the organization willing to do it?
In many cases, the answer is no.
Being reliant on Facebook calls to action and church bulletin messages will likely get you nowhere. It’s the personal touch that matters.
Text messages and email blasts don’t have the personal touch you need to win volunteers. We are in the digital age and can contact a lot of people quickly by email, social media, and text messaging, but it’s not a reliable road to success. Such messages get lost in the myriad messages that are posted every day.
So, we actually have to talk to people if we want to get their attention. We have to pick up the phone. We have to meet them at events. We have to stand outside of Church, school, wherever and shake their hands. Even in the digital age, or maybe exactly because of it, we must reach out to people personally, if we want to help a project meet its goal.
Then there are those who think small from the start. They see the modern-day task of making a success so daunting that they prefer not to tackle it at all. These types of “leaders” obviously are not the ones who brought the organization along over the years, but they are certainly the ones to stall it in its tracks. Saying it is too hard, or it can’t be done, or people will not step forward anymore is admitting defeat from the outset. It is also proof that they are in the wrong business. There is a choice to meet the challenge or run from it. Some choose to run. Let them go.
Recently, I was involved in an alumni event that found the organization itself dragging its feet on a number of issues. When the night of the event came, after months of planning meetings, things did not go smoothly. Nevertheless, it was the largest alumni event they had in decades. Yes, decades. Were they happy with this?
Because of its shortcomings, the pastor promptly declared it would have been better to run an event for 50 or 60 people than this event for 250 — which was much more work and went poorly. The pastor was upset.
Was it personal embarrassment? No, because he didn’t work on it. Unfortunately, he was looking for ways to place blame rather than looking for how to make events better in the future.
People who step into leadership roles but who have little leadership experience, are likely to torpedo your efforts. Those who have their hands full already and see an event as too much additional work, will likely trip you up. Those who are afraid of embarrassment and will only accept success — never failure — will only minimally succeed. They’ve already set limits on their potential success. Worse, they have unknowingly limited the likely success of the organizations they are supposed to lead.