Mar 23, 2011

I’m Back!!!

(@Aspie @Aspies)

Well, I think I’ve been away for about a month.  I just reached the overload limit in life and started switching to survival mode.  Job hunting and pastoring at a church at the same time got to be a bit much.

One reason is that I never do anything part way.  I want to do the best with what I have.  That takes a great deal of energy and creativity.  Well, as you can imagine, a church, being a group of people, is an ever changing, cascade of personal textures.  Planning becomes an exercise in understanding what volunteers are capable of and how far I think that I can help them grow.

The first mistake (one of numerous I’m sure) was to take the stated intentions of a new person at face value.  I should have considered age, background, maturity, stability.  So, I invested far more in this volunteer than I should have.  Now this person has pulled back, and I’m having to rethink a number of things. 

I think we Aspies can train ourselves to look inside of people and discern more about them than we do naturally.  I also think that sticking to some guidelines will guard against future error.

Not every Aspie reading this has a group of volunteers whose development and growth he/she is responsible for.  However, you  might be a parent, teacher, manager, friend, etc.  All of us have expectations of what the people around us will be, do and become.

For Aspies, especially, those expectations can be based on an idealized view of the world.  Because of the sensory integration deficit in most Aspies, the world around us is a mass of incoming chaos.  We manage the chaos through rigidly defining the world around us.  Thus it becomes manageable.  When we look at expectations for people we tend to set our expectations in the best terms possible for our own benefit.

The world doesn’t simply revolve around my wants and needs.  No one can see inside my head and read my list of expectations.  If they could they would probably laugh out loud.  So what do I do?

First, I slow down.  Before throwing some one into a role they may or may not be suited for, take the time to get to know that person.

Second, set clear requirements for the role.  Be specific on the few important things you expect.  If your list of expectations is over five items, you can count on the person failing.

Third, decide in advance your tolerance for variation or at least decide to expect nothing to be just the way you like it.

Fourth, ask for status updates.  How are you doing?  Where can you improve?  Here is what I expect of you.

Fifth, be an encourager.  Highlight what the person is doing well and what you like about it.  Don’t discuss failures, but instead discuss growth opportunities.

I’ll try to remember to let you know how this works out in my case.  It’s difficult to talk things through in a positive way.  I would much rather people just be able to do the stuff I ask them to.  In my case, though, I’m a shepherd; a pastor.  My job is to gently lead.  I think that form of leadership will be successful for everyone.


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