The Tension of Methods and Principles
Methods are how we do things and are varied and often based on stated protocols, and/or this is the correct way and/or this is my personal bent or preference, and/or this is the way we are comfortable doing something. It is easy to get fixated on one way of doing something and because it is comfortable to us personally we conclude it would be good for everyone.
Principles are foundational, unchanging and adaptable to various situations. Principles and values work hand in glove to create health and a positive culture and movement forward. A principle is bigger than anyone of us. Principles can be applied in various situations by various methods. Values are what drive our decisions from within and without.
Methods, principles and values are all essential. The tension often comes when we focus on the ways something is done ( method) as more important than what has created the need ( principle) for a method to be employed and why (value) meeting that need is important. This creates a tension as we can tend to argue methodology which gets in the way of relationship and progress.
In the area of volunteerism, I often talk about the Cookie Principle. I practiced this first as a Mom and then applied it throughout my leadership career.
As a Mom when my children started to take lunches to school, a very important part of their lunches were the sweet treat of a cookie to round out their lunch. Baking cookies was a part of my household routine. I loved doing it, it wasn't a chore. One day when I was unwell and unable to get out of bed, I came to a realization that today the lunch maker - me, the cookie maker - me was out of commission. My aha moment was around the pressure I had unknowingly created for myself ,by at that point, by not having taught anyone else in the house how to put healthy lunches together or how to bake cookies. I could hear the mad scramble and the raised voices of anxious unknowing around lunches for school that day.
In the days ahead I realized I had created a very overly dependent situation for both myself, my children and my husband.
The Cookie Principle was about the need for cookies in lunch boxes, the unhealthy dependency I had created was it was about the cookies I baked or did not bake. There were so many other methods and choices that could have been a part of that principle like teaching someone else to bake cookie's, buy cookies.or have other sweet treats on hand. Pleas don't throw this away was too simplistic.
This same principle applies in volunteerism as well. There are times as leaders we feel we have to do it, or we can impose a task on someone else, or we have not taken time to train others to use their gifting and talents or we have not been intentional enough nor considered what sustainability looks like without us. There can be many reasons for this gap like we may not have developed rhythms of leadership which serve the greater good or we are threatened that someone else just might do this better than us or we have been unaware or have not given these principles much thought.
Our job is to invite others in, invest in them and set them free to do them same with and through others.
Who do you have the opportunity to invite in and invest in this week? What might that look like?
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