“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
– John Wesley
In our professional lives, or our personal lives as well for that matter, how often do we forget to focus on what John Wesley said. I told a friend of mine once how much I loved my job and at the same time how much I hated my job. I was surprised when he laughed and said he understood and he used to feel the same way. He understood how we enjoy working with people, helping people, and seeing things improve and people succeed. But he also understood how all the “stuff” sometimes gets in the way, causes us to lose our focus as to what is really important, and just simply wears us out. He gave me some words to consider that at the time didn’t seem to help me much, but now I understand. He
told me that I needed to quit focusing on the "stuff". All of those things that are not fun, are in fact things that we dread dealing with, should not be the point of our work. Don’t think about them simply as tasks, but how you can complete them in a way that can keep the focus on where you want it to be.
For example, we were going through a period of reduced revenues to the point at which our balances were decreasing. It was kind of like a personal budget in which a person had to pull a little from savings every month to make ends meet. That worked ok in the short term, but the fix was only temporary. Eventually you would run out of money. Just like in our personal budgets, we had to find ways for the organization to cut back. This was not fun. Every cut affected somebody. Every decision wore on the leadership just a little bit more. The “stuff” was wearing us down and made us feel like we weren’t keeping our focus on the things it needed to be on.
So it was time to order more copy paper, and at the time our organization used copy paper by the semi-load. Hey, another area we could cut a few dollars, right? But instead of just not ordering and then telling employees to figure out how they would adapt, we tried a different approach. We sent an email out to all employees explaining the situation and asking for suggestions as to how to make the paper we had left last longer and to not have to order more
that year. We received good suggestions by the dozens. And because we got buy-in and support from our employees, we used those suggestions to start doing things differently. Technology use increased. Better communication through discussions were had. Interactions with others changed. Creative problem-solving made many of our processes more efficient. All because we chose a different approach to dealing with a small piece of our budget problem. If we just treat “stuff” as a task, a thing to hurry up and decide and move on, we may be missing the point. I challenge you to take those decisions that are difficult and that affect people negatively and find a way to get some good out of them.
There’s a lot of good we can do for a lot of people.
Go back and read the first paragraph again. Maybe print it off and tape it to your bathroom mirror so that you can read it every morning. There’s a lot of good we can do, even in situations that seem difficult, but we have to remember
to look for ways to do it.