Friday, August 16, 2013

Whatever It Takes

When we find ourselves with a clear reasonable goal before us, it would be nice if reaching the goal was simply a matter of following a prescribed, clear plan. It is wonderful when that is how things work out!

In the reality that is my life, however, rarely do things just unfold as planned. Whether in my personal life, in group computer gaming, or in conjunction with my work--most recently with Visible Music College-Chicago,  the normal course from point A to point B is impeded by the unplanned and unexpected.

People and organizations need to anticipate this and prepare. The vital step in preparation for such challenges is a mindset. Embracing an attitude of "whatever it takes" is vital for being ready to deal with unplanned challenges and difficulties.

Groups will suffer harshly if some of its members fail to adopt this approach. Antithetical points of view can stifle success. Espousing the notion that "it's not my job" will leave gaps in getting done those things that must be accomplished in order to see a project to its end or a goal to its fulfillment.

At the time I am writing this, Visible Music College-Chicago is in the process of renovating what will be our campus. In the course of this renovation, I have had to put down my graduate and seminary degrees and take up the tools of a carpenter, painter, trash remover, and many other tasks. At times, there are no volunteers around, and the hired tradesmen need certain things done in a time-sensitive manner. I have to do whatever it takes.

A friend of mine from the video game, Word of Warcraft, is in a team with me that is progressing through a series of "10-man" challenges (called raids). Though it is usually her duty on this team to play a particular role, on one challenge, we were stuck because those of us in a different role were unable to meet the needs of the encounter. This friend stepped up and changed her role--traded roles with another team member--so that we could be successful. She was willing to set aside what she did in the normal setting and was willing to do whatever it took for the team to succeed.  While she could have said, "well the problem is not because of me, and it is not my job, so too bad." But she didn't, and the team succeeded.

There is no end to the scenarios in which success depends on individuals stepping up and doing whatever it takes. The single parent doing whatever it takes to provide meaningful care for children... The athlete who puts in extra hours to hone skills... The student who foregoes social activities in order to pass difficult classes...

The road to success, even when clearly mapped in advance, is subject to surprises. When the unexpected occurs, someone (or some people) will need to embrace the "whatever it takes" attitude, or failure awaits.

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