One of the most profound lessons I have learned in my time working with communities is this:
Whoever comes are the right people.
Sounds simple, but so often it goes against our natural instincts.
It certainly goes against my natural personality type in every way.
But it is true.
When planning a workshop or a community consultation/co-creation event we often have an idea of who should be in the room- whether that be specific names of individuals that we want to be there or just a number of people present that would signal success for us.
Quite often I have had events that I was arranged to facilitate canceled because either the number isn’t right or a key individual is unable to attend.
I understand the desire behind this. We really want our key leaders involved; or we really want a wide cross section of the community involved. And often we do need to work toward this… at subsequent meetings or alternative gatherings.
The challenge with this delay is that, in my experience, often this false start has happened not just once but a number of times. Then the momentum fails, people get disheartened and nothing happens at all.
That why I love the image at the top:
Sometimes the most important thing we can do, is it to begin.
And to begin with whoever shows up, whoever is available, whoever is present (be that 3 or 200).
I have come to believe this is the right things to do for a number of reasons:
- This is honouring of those who have made themselves available (who are often those most passionate, ready and willing for the task anyhow).
- It sets the activity in motion which then allows for others to get on board. Sometimes those reluctant-joiners (who may even be those we, as leaders, are most keen to have on board) need to see something begin, to know you are serious, and then they will jump on board. Often they have experienced false starts in the past and are (even subconsciously) skeptical.
- Busy people will always be busy. If you wait for all the busy people to be free you will never begin.
- If we wait for the “right” people we often do not allow people to become the “right” people.
- Starting small is good.
Smaller groups of people create energy faster than large groups.
Small groups are scalable (if asked to invite only one person to the next meeting
you have instantly doubled)
Smaller groups, if managed well, take greater personal responsibility for tasks
and have greater potential for accountability.
So next time you arrange a gathering, call together a group, start to dream…. and then people begin to cancel (sickness, holidays, other commitments) or just don’t show up. Don’t stop. Don’t postpone. Don’t worry or become disheartened. Remind yourself: Whoever comes are the right people.