Some years ago when I started my first dream job, as a fundraiser for a national nonprofit, I had no idea what I was doing, but I was young enough that I never doubted my ability to figure it out. During my first year I relied heavily on the only person in the office that had experience with large fundraising events. To this day I cherish the lessons she taught me and I have carried them with me each time I begin a new venture in life.
For the story’s sake I will call this person Sarah. Sarah and I built a deep understanding and respect for one another. While, not at first I was eventually able to prove I was “worth my weight in salt”:To be effective and efficient; deserving of one’s pay and was smart enough to know she knew what she was talking about (remember last week’s lesson about criticism?) when she told me how to best complete a task. We had our differences of opinions and frequently had discussions about critiquing my work style or problem solving skills. I must admit sometimes these conversations made me feel like I would never get it right, but then she would send me on my way to figure it out with her suggestions.
I had been with the organization about a year when my most difficult and demanding fundraiser commanded every bit of moxie and planning sense I had gained during my smaller events. With volunteers who had been involved in the planning of this event for many years, questioning my every decision, I felt like I was starting all over proving I could make this event as successful as it had been in the past. I, of course continued to look to Sarah to help me navigate these new and strange waters, but knowing it ultimately would be my responsibility.
I knew from past experiences, I needed to become familiar with the event from top to bottom; inside and out, but during one of my conversations about going to review the event route, Sarah suggested it wasn’t necessary because the volunteers had it under control. I continued to feel disconnected from the event since I did not truly understand the big picture (by the way I am a strong visual learner) and felt as though I couldn’t move forward until I took time to see how it all came together.
After talking with my supervisor who worked several states away, I convinced her why I thought it was imperative for me to meet a few of the volunteers and have them take me through the route. She agreed and supported my decision, I promptly contacted the proper volunteers and got to work. After a day long tour of each mile and rest stop along the way, I came home exhausted, but fulfilled in my new found knowledge.
Several days later I was able to share my excitement and knowledge with Sarah which in turn she supported. In closing, those who know, don’t always know, because they may not know you; sometimes you need to find support and make your ideas a reality. Take time to know what works for you and put it into action, even if it means hearing no first, in my case my idea was supported once I proved that for me it was necessary to see the big picture .
Have an Enlightened Day