Monday, March 25, 2013

I literally have lists of ideas, people

Recently I was set apart as the Temporal Welfare Committee co-chair at church*. Since the name doesn't tell much about the committee, the other co-chairs and I spent several weeks figuring out what our mandate is exactly. It turns out we're in charge of cleaning the church on a rotating schedule with the other wards that meet in the building, planning and organizing emergency preparedness for the ward and its members, and discovering and creating meaningful service opportunities for our members that serve our community and help non-members have a positive experience with LDS people. The bishop, in his own words, has "a service itch the stake's** service activities just aren't scratching". Kind of a broad mission statement.

This calling plays to several of my strengths and past experiences, namely: 1. Being a creative activity planner 2. organizing times, dates, supplies, logistics, etc. 3. Telling people what to do 4. Convincing people they want to do something 5. Solving problems 6. Running events with lots of people in attendance 7. a desire to make people happy.

My recent project manager past, though, makes me want to organize things in a very specific way. I have to stop myself from sending out emails listing "follow up items" or specific "goals for the meeting". Now, these are all good things that lead to efficiency and organization, but they can be kind of intense for people who are doing this on a volunteer basis on top of already-busy lives. I've had to come up with ways to accomplish the same thing without heavy-handed methods. Part of my strategy is to make sure there is food anytime my co-chairs and I have a meeting. It seems to soothe the fact that it comes at the end of an additional four hours of leadership and church meetings on Sunday.

However, my hyper-management ways got an additional fire lit under them yesterday at church when the ward clerk and I were talking about the budget. Basically he said that the budget is a flexible tool, and money can moved to other areas as needed. Basically that whoever first comes up with good ideas to benefit the ward gets the money. Basically that if I am more organized than the next committee, I get all the money I want. I think he was kind of kidding, but I'm running with it.

Sometimes I want to be Leslie Knope. Sometimes I believe I am her.

Leslie: I spent the last few months brainstorming, and I have some really great ideas, and I put them in my idea binders. I mean, they’re color coded for god’s sake!

Today, I’m getting organized. It’s long overdue and even though it’s gorgeous out (spring! don’t leave! make summer wait!), I’m camped out at the coffee shop w/free wi-fi and organizing myself.
Yay for Action Notebooks! It makes me feel like i’ve gotten far more done than I have — and I have a better grasp of who I need to contact/harass. I’m putting my “no’s” on the back page of each section, and am looking forward to being able to cross those names off and add them to the “yes” section — I figure I can check in three more times after the first “sorry, they’re unavailable” response. Perhaps a little excessive, but it can’t hurt to try, right? In email, they can’t kick me in the shins. However, in email, they can’t see my awesomeness it’s harder to win them over to my cause.
I’m getting better at calling people on the phone, though. Maybe I need to lead with a “Deputy Director” title before I go into my spiel — but I don’t know if I’m bold enough for that yet.
Leslie: I spent the last few months brainstorming, and I have some really great ideas, and I put them in my idea binders!

Competition for limited resources, what? If I am more organized I get to help more people, what? All I have to do is tell people what we should do quickly and succinctly, what? Done. I'm sorry co-chairs, get ready for a whole lot of due dates and action items coming your way. There will be dinner at our next meeting.

* The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consists mainly of a lay ministry and members of the congregation that are asked to fulfill various roles ("callings") in helping the ward run smoothly. We do everything from tend toddlers to teach teenagers to count the tithing that is donated to leading the ward choir. We fulfill these responsibilities for anywhere from a few months to a few years - changing whenever the bishop (also a volunteer) asks us to do something else.
** The LDS church around the world is divided up into wards (the equivalent of parishes) that are then grouped into geographically-based stakes that are presided over by a stake presidency.

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