It’s Time to Know What You Don’t Know

I had planned to spend last weekend repainting the walls in my home. I had my calendar cleared and paint colors picked out. Saturday morning, bright and early, I ran to the store to get all of my supplies. I had no idea what I was getting myself into: 25 different types of paint, 5 brands of tape, an entire wall of rollers and brushes and items that, to me, seemed to have little affiliation with painting. What I had thought was going to be a 5 minute errand quickly turned into a 45 minute lesson – but boy am I glad it did!

I didn’t know what I didn’t know

The experts at the store got me thinking about technique and tools in a way I never considered.Did you know if you pair a thicker roller with a heavier handle and a higher quality primer-included paint you will achieve an evenly colored wall in half the time and in only one coat? I didn’t. Like I said, I had my entire weekend blocked off for applying two or three coats—I was anticipating long nights, early mornings, ordering delivery and my dogs feeling neglected. I didn’t plan on getting help. I thought this was just “how it goes”. I thought “time-suck” was my only option.

What I realized that with a greater investment up front—of both my time and money—I would be better educated and better equipped to handle the job ahead of me. 

What does painting walls have to do with your organization?

My experience got me thinking about a lot of the nonprofits I know. All of them have extremely limited resources but too many aren’t using the tools and techniques available to help them get the most out of every cent and second. They are either bogged down using old fashioned tactics or they are using applications on a daily basis to drive their mission – but are using the applications inefficiently, creating costly workarounds for even the simplest tasks. And they continue to operate this way because they don’t think they can afford to spend time away from their mission in a training classroom getting the help they need.

Half of them don’t know what they don’t know and the other half don’t think they can afford to learn more.

Sounds eerily similar to the girl who knew nothing about painting and didn’t think she could afford to spend 45 minutes getting help..

What more could you be doing?

Your resources are extremely valuable (way more valuable than my weekend)! Every minute and dollar spent needs to make the biggest impact possible, right?  Right! Why then are so many of us wasting these precious resources by settling with “time-sucks” and the status quo? Why are we wasting an entire weekend painting when we can be achieving more with our time?

I think we would all like to be good stewards of our organizations’ and donors’ resources. If we or our teams could be more efficient and effective at our job, let’s acknowledge that we might not know what we don’t know and get guidance from an expert! When we take on a project or a report, if we find ourselves wasting time “figuring it out,” let’s seek help or training so we can attack it confidently and efficiently with skills and best practices in our back pocket!

Because of the knowledge the painting experts shared with me, before I even put paint to brush, I had a solid plan of attack and felt confident in my tools and my ability to do a beautiful, consistent and accurate job – and complete it much, much faster than I had anticipated. And you know what? Those 45 minutes I didn’t think I had time for, helped me shave hours off of the project and by weekend’s end I had restocked the fridge, spent time at the beach with my dogs, enjoyed a good book and typed up this post in a freshly painted room!

With a little expert help, what more could you be doing?