07 May 2015

The Appeal of the Ready-Made Solution

First of all, thank you so much to the friends who paid for Dorina's house and Dani's water tank.  There was a contractor at Dorina's house yesterday to come up with a bill of quantity for materials. Today Fred and the boys are going up to Kenya to install Dani's new water tank.  The plan was to wait until the weekend, but Fred got a call yesterday that his grandmother is very ill, so they are rushing up to see her and do the plumbing work for a new toilet and bathing area for her. By next week's blog post, I'll likely have photos of both completed projects!

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I've been reviewing past partnerships for Lahash, and I realized something as I was analyzing some work we did with a primary school in Kenya.  That partnership was incredibly successful in terms of attracting donors and advocates from around the world, and I was trying to figure out why.  They weren't particularly good at sending pictures or telling stories of the kids, but they had a plan that made sense: they were teachers and they wanted to run a school.  It seems simple, but it's not always that way.

People who represent donors (like me) hear a lot ideas.  We read funding requests for schools and orphanages and guest houses and huge farming projects from people who have never taught or taken care of children or guests or farmed more than a garden.  Often there's a really good case for the need the idea is meant to meet, but the deeper one looks into the project, the less it seems a good idea.  Usually the idea comes from something that was successful somewhere else, and it turns out to be a bad fit for the proposing organization.

I'm realizing that this concept has some personal applications as well.  How often do I look around my life and feel unsatisfied?  I wish I could be a better mother or have a more organized home or make more money or spend more time in prayer and the Scripture.  When I identify a need in my life, I tend to want a ready-made solution.  I want to teach my toddler to pray, so I research all the best ways to make a lifelong disciple of Jesus out of a tiny little boy, but the things that have been successful for other people are not necessarily going to work for my family and my little boy.

So what's the right way to go about making a change or trying something new?

  • Play to your strengths.
    We are not a scheduled family.  Every single day is different for us, so if I try to implement a certain time each day to do X Y or Z, it's not going to happen.  However, we're really good at grabbing spare moments and living life in seasons, so I have to consider that in any plans I make for us.
  • Make a reasonable plan.
    It never works to try to change the world from the first step.  The best long-term plans always seem to have moderate, reasonable, scale-able starting points with middle- and long-term steps toward a large vision.  It's nothing terribly glamorous, but it works.
  • Stick to it.
    This is a reminder I need all the time, because I'm a master procrastinator and I get bored easily with repetitive routine.  Sticking to a plan based on my strengths and goals is the key to making it through the dull or difficult times.
  • Don't recreate the wheel.
    Creativity is great, but so are best practices.  The best ideas are adaptations of what is proven to work.  "There is nothing new under the sun" but there are creative new twists on solid, proven ideas.
Nothing I've written in this post is all that innovative, but writing a post every Thursday is part of a routine that is important, regardless of whether I have something brilliant to say or not.  Anyway, this is what I've been thinking about lately.

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