I was thinking through how to explain what I wanted to do, and I came up with the following three statements.
- Think right so that you can do right.
- Earn a lot so that you can give a lot.
- Be prepared so you are prepared to do right and give a lot.
The first two statements were easy to craft the last one has proved rather harder. I found it needed to be shorter so it fitted on the Google Plus cover so I adjusted to “Be prepared so that they know that you cared.” More about this here.
The next challenge was working out who I was doing this for i.e. whose lives did I want to change. I first thought that there were only two levels, and that was confusing enough. Then I realised that there were three levels to the transformation that I wanted to see. Level 1 was me, level 2 was other people and level 3 was groups or communities. Each of those statements of what do I do applies to each level. It got worse though, as the struggles that I had getting my head around this led to me finding myself in one of those circles that seem to be impossible to escape. The sort of circular dilemma seen in the book Catch 22.
Why does it start with me?
It is very difficult leading people along a path or through territory that you are unfamiliar with. Think of Moses. He learned to look after his father in laws animals in the wilderness. That experience was extremely useful when leading a large number of people through the wilderness.
There is the story of someone who went to a funeral of a woman murdered by her husband who said why didn’t anyone do something to save her. The victim had turned to that person for help, but the advice was, forgive him and stick it out. The person giving the advice did not know the territory and gave bad advice. That is an extreme example, but people suffer all the time because those trying to help them do not know the territory.
The only way to learn the territory is to live in it for yourself. There is the saying that you cannot know what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes until you have actually done so.
What is the territory I have learnt my around?
In my first draft I found myself using the words “just me”. It sounded as if there is little value placed on being me. That is fine as long as it is true humility, but for me this has often been a sign of an inverse pride. This is the sort of pride that pulls you down and pushes others up over you. Of course if you pull yourself down it is as if you see yourself as having little value compared to others.
If you struggle to see any value in yourself then you will struggle to see any value in what you are doing. If you struggle to see any value in what you are doing you will struggle to believe that other people will see any value in it. If you struggle to believe others will see the value in what you are doing then you will find it hard to behave in such a way that other people to see any value in it. If you don’t behave in such a way that other people see the value in what you are doing then it will be very hard to persuade them that there is any value in what you have to offer. If they behave in a way that does not show the value in what you are doing or show you respect or honour for what you are doing then this will you will struggle to see the value in it. The problem is that you expect something to happen you will behave in such a way that you encourage others to do what you expect them to do. No wonder it is important to think right so that you can do right.
That is a territory I have got to know well. Some common behaviours in that territory include
- saying that you say that you will post something on a social media site on a regular basis but then don’t keep to the schedule because you struggle to believe anyone will be interested in your message.
- becoming the know it all who puts other people off
- writing blog posts and not doing very much to make them visible
- believing that you don’t have the right to be heard by others
- saying that you don’t know very much when all you do is try to learn as much as you can on the topic
- trying to do so much that you cannot possibly succeed
- starting one project and going so far then losing the belief that you can complete it (usually because something has not gone to plan) so you put it to one side
That is a classic example of what some people call the belief expectation cycle in action. If you expect someone to ignore you then you will behave in such a way that people will ignore you. If you expect that you will not succeed then you cannot possibly succeed. Until you change your belief system nothing will change. You will get what you believe in, whether it is positive or negative.
Result of knowing the territory
Ever had one of those times when you are bombarded by ideas. They start by taking in ideas that seem on the surface to have little to do with where your ideas are going. In this case it was a telesummit on growing your own food that showed how gardening can be linked to social justice, self-help (both now and in crisis situations), environmental sustainability, healing and recovery from the rough stuff of life, even an increase in confidence for those involved. Mix the ideas I picked up from that plus some of the other reading I have done and my mind started working overtime.
One thing I heard throughout this summit was the importance of honour and respect. We honour and respect ourselves when we eat good food. We honour and respect those who grow food when we pay prices that reflect the work that they do on our behalf. We honour and respect others when we help them provide good food for themselves and their families whether this is as a result of running a business or a community project.
It goes a bit further than that even. We honour and respect the created world when we treat animals well or not try to force them to be grow faster or weigh more than nature intended. We honour and respect the created world when we eat food that is grown locally rather than using increasingly scarce resources to transport it from the other side of the world. We honour and respect creation when we make our gardens bee-friendly.
Those are just a few examples of how important honour and respect seemed to be. It seemed to be the thing that underpinned every thing they were talking about. It was as if the songs of the 1960s that tried to tell us that all you need is love and that love makes the world go around had became a reality to me. Love creation and you will do right by it. Love people and you will do right by them. Love yourself, and you will do right by yourself.
Think right so that you can do right
The wording that you use does not matter. You could see yourself as good enough. You could see yourself as valuable. You could see yourself as worthy of love and respect. You could see yourself as accepted and wanted by other people. They are all ways of explaining how you should see yourself if you are going to be all that you could be or should be. This is the sort of self-love is good for us.
A long time ago I was told that this kind of self love was an influence in the idea that you should love your neighbour as yourself. They changed it around and said that you can only love your neighbour to the extent that you love yourself. Loving yourself is important because unless you do, you cannot love your neighbour. If you can only love yourself a little bit then your love for our neighbour is limited as well.
It is loving your self that enables you to love your neighbour. Your neighbour could be your employer who you serve by doing the best job possible. Your neighbour could be the customer of your business who has the need that you designed your business to meet.
Earn a lot so that you can give a lot
See where I am going with this. Those who see themselves as valuable find it easier to explain to someone why they should employ them. Once they are in a job they have enough self-respect to do a good job. If you decide to start a business you have enough self-respect to build a business that can succeed. When you have a job you are in a position to give to others to help them.
It is virtually impossible to set up a thriving business if you do not respect yourself and have the right kind of self love. If you do not value yourself you will charge such low prices that the business will struggle to survive. If you do not value your customers then you will overcharge them. A thriving business charges realistic prices that are fair to both you and your customers. If you treat customers in the way you would like to be treated, but you do not value yourself enough to expect good treatment your business will struggle. Put that another way if you expect to be treated badly you will struggle to believe others deserve to be treated well and if you do not treat others well your business will die. A thriving business treats customers so well that they want to come back for more and will tell others about you. Not only that but a thriving business can help to provide for others by giving them a job.
Be prepared so you are prepared to do right and give a lot
This in reality takes me back to where I started. I had the desire to help people in mental distress and then I had the vision of Lily’s Place. Somewhere that people in mental distress could come and get all their needs met apart from being given a roof over their heads. (You can find the story behind that here.)
The issue was always how on earth could something like that happen. I started by trying to apply for funding, and that proved to be an unproductive use of my time. The alternative was to make money from selling things and then using the profit from that to build up Lily’s Place. The challenge then became learning how to create products and how to sell them. This included the tech stuff and learning more about the subjects I knew I needed to cover. There there were the practicalities of setting up and running a business. The more I dug into this the more I realised that unless I started to think right then I would never get anywhere.
I kept on seeing the need for communities to become more self-reliant. In fact the longer it took me get going and the more I saw things going wrong the worse I felt about not getting up and running. I had to start building something. Something that could be replicated so that other people could take the basis of what I had done and add their own flavour to it. As other people replicated what I had started doing, the things they created would help create the immense expense of the vision of Lily’s Place.
It was a nightmare. I was going around in circles. If I could not prove I could make these ideas work then how could I persuade anyone that they did. Yet the people that I thought that I should be working with to make these ideas work were the very ones who I thought I had to prove that these concepts worked before I started working with them. If I could not provide that proof how could they see that those ideas worked? It felt like one of those vicious circles or Catch 22 situations that it was impossible to break out of.
Someone said that the best way to break through that kind of impasse was to set up a club where everyone was learning. You were the one who was organising it so you did the equivalent of hiring a room and setting it up as a place where people could learn. I had tried to do that with a crochet club and found that there were two challenges. One was publicity and the other was collecting enough subs to be able to cover the costs of hiring a room. I had learnt enough from what I done online to be able to deal with the tech part of doing this online. Having that knowledge made it relatively easy to develop a strategy to make this happen online.
The thing then becomes why not? No good reason came to mind not to try. After all if things did not go to plan what had I lost? After all I had learnt so much previously from being a teacher and creating online products that all I needed was a way to circumvent this obstacle. After all I had got to know the territory so it would be easier to lead people through the area so I could lead them away from many of the pitfalls and towards the better paths to take. I knew the territory relating to technology. I knew the territory of creating and selling online products. I knew the territory of being unsure what on earth I was doing trying to make an income online when it was such a struggle. I knew the pitfalls really well as I had fallen into so many of them. Therefore, why not?
Setting out a fleece
This is a concept taken from the biblical story of Gideon. Basically, he was unsure what was the right thing to do so he put out a fleece and said if the fleece was in the wrong state for two nights in a row then he would know what was the right thing to do. Well two nights in a row the fleece was in the wrong state i.e. when the ground was dry the fleece was wet and when the ground was dry the fleece was wet. At that point he realised that he really should do what he had previously been unsure about.
My fleece is a bit different. Well it is a different world. I need to know if there is enough interest and the best way to do this is to ask people if they wanted to sign up for this club. Warning though, once everything is set up, and you have become a full member there will be subs. Not a lot, my thinking is £5 or £10 a month but of course depends on what the club actually offers.
To be honest I only started thinking about this as I was writing this article so my head is full of crazy ideas, but no firm plans. In some ways that is the best thing as then this club will develop in such a way that it suits the members that it attracts. Signing up will not commit you to joining this club but it will start the process towards finding out more about what it is about.
The hardest thing about signing up is choosing how to do it. I have set it up so that you can sign up through Facebook OR register with the help of Google Plus OR fill in a form to join an email list. (See what I mean about having the tech stuff worked out.)
P.S. Do you see what I have just done? They say a confused mind never buys so it is best only to ever give people one choice. What have I done, given you 3 choices? This is going to be an interesting journey.