Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Step Up to the Plate

homeplate How many times have you heard the saying, “Step up to the plate? This applies to someone taking the initiative to make something happen. This is necessary for change to happen. If no one steps up to the plate, then the status quo will be the standard and most things cannot survive in eternal status quo.

In Without them

from Seth's Blog by Seth Godin, he states,

“In my experience, once it's clear you're willing (not just willing, but itching, moving, and yes, implementing) without them, things start to happen. People are rarely willing to step up and stop you, and often just waiting to follow someone crazy enough to actually do something.”

I feel that I’ve had to do this many times. I’ve had to take responsibility when no one else would do it, simply because it needed to be done. This happens a lot in my personal life. When the trash is full, I seem to be the only one that is bothered by this overflowing garbage pit so I take it out. When the dust on the furniture is thick enough to write messages on, I will dust and polish. If I don’t wash the bathrooms, they would never be done. Unfortunately no one wants to follow the yucky stuff. Yet when I’m feeling antsy to go traveling, my husband takes the responsibility for planning the trip and working out the fine details. Once he steps up to do this, I’m willing to follow and help make reservations or other things that need to be done.

Yet at school, the big joke is not to suggest any changes or you will be in charge. This causes many people to keep their mouths shut. But I think that if it is important enough to bring it up for discussion, then I should be willing to volunteer to help make the changes. Someone needs to be willing to start the change and when others see how it will benefit, hopefully they will follow.

Over the years, I’ve been cheerleader coach and over student council. I’ve also been advisor over an assortment of clubs. But it seems like every year, there is always someone who is willing to criticize my actions or ideas under the guise of “offering advice.” I want to pull my hair out and tell them that they should do the job first and then offer me this advice. Until they walk in my shoes, they don’t realize the time, the commitment and the frustrations that it entails. It is easy to be on the sidelines looking in and deciding that certain actions need to take place. Yet, on the field, it is a totally different ballgame.

I admit that I have been guilty of being the one on the sidelines offering advice. I have to keep reminding myself that it is different when you are the person in charge. There are a lot of things happening in the background that I don’t know about and probably never will. I need to remember how it feels to be the one willing to take the risks while others are discouraging.

I feel that it is so important to be willing to jump in and get involved. That is the only way that change will happen. For example, just this Sunday, I asked my pastor why the sermons weren’t uploaded on the church’s website. As a frequent traveler, it would be great to be able to go on the website and listen to that week’s sermon that I missed. She looked stunned and said that they hadn’t gotten to that point yet but it sounded good. Then I offered to help when they did get to that point. I’m not an expert but I am willing to help make it happen. I wonder if anyone else had thought about doing this or wished it would happen. Surely I’m not the only one who has thought of this. Yet, maybe my offer to help will be an impetus to make it happen. I don’t know but we will see.

Over the years I have listened, read, and watched education pundits discuss change but only a few of them are willing to take action. Just as in basketball, a player has to take the shot in order to make it. Sure, there will be some misses, but there also may be some three point successes. But if the attempt was never made, the success would never happen. People need to be willing not only to step up to the plate but also realize that some failures may occur. These do not need to end the process but need to be considered an opportunity to fine tune and improve the attempts. Eventually, with the support of all who step up to the plate, the attempts will be successful.

What have you done lately to step up to the plate? What would you like to see happen that you would be willing to step up to the plate?

Original image: 'Baseball Home Plate' by: Keith Macke


Nick James said...

Where I work teachers like to talk about how things should be and about how things need to be changed, but none of them actually want to take the steps to change them. I'm believing more and more that they really just prefer complaining to actually doing anything at all to improve the situation. The discouraging part is when you try to meet them where they are, suggest how we can change things and begin to move to change them, they criticize you for being too headstrong and ambitious and, sadly, start complaining that you want to change things. It's kind of a lose-lose.

Kobus van Wyk said...

Too many suffer from "it's not in my job description" syndrome. The Good Book encourages us: "Do what your hand finds to do ...".

The schools in South Africa open next week for the new academic year after the long summer break - I will link to this posting - it is a timely reminder to do what needs to be done to avoid the usual chaos.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

loonyhiker said...

@Nick I think what has helped me was not talking to people about making the changes. Instead, I just jumped in and made the changes that I could and hoped that others would follow my example.

loonyhiker said...

@Kobus I'm so glad that you found this post useful.