Just this week I was asked to contribute ideas for topics to be discussed during a national Twitter chat in for industry. Connecting the dots from something I have observed often within Extension work of Land Grant University faculty and staff, I suggested the topic: Impatience.
My reasoning behind the topic?
Recently, I’ve noticed that many of my peers, myself included, want to jump right into program delivery because it feels like work. Teaching is exhilarating and exhausting. After you do it you are tired. When you are tired you feel like you worked hard.
We prepare the content but when it comes time to deliver...no one shows up (in person or virtually). With our impatience to deliver, we can often forget that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I think we need to take a step back and recognize that in this noisy social world, attention starts with relationships. Context before content. We must care first, so others will care about what we have to say. Yes, the information held at Land Grant Universities is un-biased and research-based. But it's clear that in the 21st century, most people do not care. They will settle for what shows up on the first page of Google...or what a trusted friend has to say. Let's work on being that trusted friend by caring.
Program delivery is a lot like baking bread. It can fail. Why? Because you rushed it. You didn't let the dough ferment long enough. You didn't take the time to build relationships, context, so no one showed up.
So, then you made the oven hotter to get the loaves finished faster in time for supper. This isn't how great bread is made. It's ready when it's ready, not when you need it to be.
The work we do as leaders, makers, and innovators creators needs time to ferment, to slowly rise to impact. If we rush it, we get nothing worth very much.
But don't wait too long.
You might have the belief that what you are working on "takes time." But the truth is this: you are hiding. You want your work to be perfect, so you tell yourself this when you should really be testing it with the people who might actually use it. As Seth Godin has pointed out, "We stall and digress and cause distractions, not because the work needs us to, but because we're afraid to ship. Impatience can be a virtue if it causes us to leap through the fear that holds us back."
I wrote one blog post in 2017. Still trying to figure out if I was stalling or if the work I was doing just took a lot of time. Watch for the book I co-authored coming out this spring, "We've Tried That Before: 500 Years of Extension Wisdom."
I design, plan, and evaluate economic development programs for Utah State University.
Search this site: