Thursday, November 02, 2006

Walk it Back

Today I had to do my future job for the first time since I started grad school. I was recruited by a dear friend to help her father (another wonderful person) campaign for better roads in the 5th most congested county in the country. Now, I believe in the cause. I believe that the roads need to be taken care of and that the state has been hedging forever and probably won't ever fix the real problems that cause deaths and injuries every year. And I'm not talking a few, I'm saying that in 2003, 5 students in one high school died on these roads, because of the condition of the roads.

So I was going to try and help find more people to help out at the polls, handing out information to constituents who would be voting on the issue. I am trying up here at school, and thought, after a conversation with my parents, that tapping resources in the county would be a good idea.

Long story short, I asked a man I really respect for assistance recruiting people, only to find out he didn't believe in the cause. In fact, I found out that about as many people oppose it as are for it. He said that he would allow someone to come in and pitch the need for volunteers in his classes though. Since I live pretty far away, I called my friend and asked her to make the pitch. That would not/could not happen. So, I had to reconsider and then walk back my request.

I know this isn't the same as putting out a story and then having to take parts back, but I had to consider that I had not had all the information when formulating my plan, didn't have the other support I might need to implement the plan, hadn't really asked enough questions to prepare myself for this type of situation ... I basically broke every rule of communication engagement because I felt emotionally tied to the people who supported the idea and to the idea itself.

I had to do my future job tonight for about two hours, and I already learned about ten things. The most prominent among those though, was how this really feels. Having to tell someone one thing and then call back and take it back - not because you want to, but because you have to for reasons that are out of your control is, well, uncomfortable. I think I could have done it better, but I was partly to blame for the set-up since I hadn't been prepared enough to make good judgements. Those two things, how it feels and being prepared enough to use my judgement, are pretty strong lessons to learn on a Thursday night.

My future job is pretty scary. I mean, I love it, I really, really do. But it terrifies me too. I know I am in school to learn how to do these things better. I think I might take out one of my spare spiral notebooks and make a list of do's and don'ts. Everytime I walk into one of these new and exciting experiences, I have to learn and remember for next time. It seems strange a little that how to do it raced through my head and the logistics of it didn't come until too late. But the HOW. I knew exactly how to do it, how I wanted to do it. Three months ago I might not have.

They say there is a learning curve, where in the beginning you learn things at this incredibly fast rate and then over time, you slow down. I keep thinking that I am so far down on that curve ... nowhere near that settling point. And I love it.

I love that I am learning everyday. I love that doing a favor for a friend was easy and hard simultaneously. I love that I thought about audience, message, approach, vehicle ... I guess I should have sat down and remembered step 8 though. Implementation is key. You can't jump there without everything else, and I skipped the research step. But I am learning. And next time I'll forget something else and I'll learn something else. And isn't that incredibly exciting?

How many people get to spend their days taking in entirely new things all the time? What an amazing thing this is. I would have been upset about making such big mistakes not even two weeks ago. Then a friend sat me down and told me I needed to look at myself a different way. I think I am trying that now. I may not be successful at changing the part of me that rails on my every mistake, but it will come one day. I think.

Wes Roberts once said, "If you aren't making any mistakes, you aren't trying hard enough." This is sooooo the time in my life to be going out there and making mistakes, cleaning them up, and learning from them. I don't think I could get a better education than that.

Love always, ~Heather

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