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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 26-Feb-17


Sunday 26-February-17

Do, Lead, Help, Nudge or Watch

In your life, whether it is at work, in volunteering or wherever, you can often see a whole set of activities going on or where some action are needed. A way to look at these are as 'projects', where there is an intended outcome following a certain amount of work. These 'projects' can be of any size, from a few minutes to several years. A critical question for you (or a group you are in) is 'What should I/we do about it?' Here are five options.


Sometimes all you need is to roll up your sleeves and get on with it. When something clearly needs doing the best approach is to do it rather than talk about it.

When you are going to do something, either taking the lead or doing it all yourself, there are three questions to ask:
1. Do I have the energy for this? (Or might I give up?)
2. Do I have the resources I will need? (From money to wheelbarrows)
3. Do I have the support I will need? (Including practical help and formal authority)

Particularly when we fear failure or criticism, we can get lost in the safety of meeting, talking and planning. While it is usually good to communicate, sometimes all you need to do is say 'I'm doing X. Did anyone want to join me'. Then just get on with it.


Some jobs you can do yourself. Other work is just too much for one or needs the expertise, resources or influence of other people. In voluntary contexts and where you do not have direct authority, this means you will need to influence others, motivating them to join your cause.

Leadership is a highly skilled activity, but if you are good at it you can get a lot done. It means being able to see both the big picture and how all the parts work together. It also means building such good relationships with the people involved that they want to help you and one another succeed.


At other times the project may not be yours to do. Perhaps you lack the energy to lead it or someone else already has the bit between their teeth. Perhaps you as, have been asked to help using our expertize, or maybe they want a bit of extra grunt work during a critical period.

Whatever the reason, on these types of projects you are a helper, not a leader. This makes life a bit easier as you do not have to chase people and be at every meeting. You can hence just do your bit and leave the worrying to other people.


In some projects you may have no active role, yet still have a concern for the outcomes of the work. This can be frustrating, as you want to steer the ship yet are neither the captain not the crew.

This is the position of the activist. Typically with concerns for social issues, they agitate, irritate and work to influence the decisions of those in power. Lobbyists, too, seek to nudge, cajole or otherwise influence the powerful.


Sometimes you have little influence, but are still interested in what is going on, for example so you can prepare for the outcome or discuss it with others. In such projects, you should just sustain a watching brief. Get hooked into information streams as you can, such as email distribution lists, notice boards, etc. and then just keep an eye on things.

If necessary, you can change your status on a 'Watch' project, for example if you become concerned that things are being done wrong or that your interests are not being examined,


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