Why Are You Here?

Why are you here? I recently asked a group of community volunteers this question. They served on a coalition that was attempting to reduce substance abuse and increase educational opportunities for youth in their community.  I wanted to know why this project was worth the time, attention, and resources they dedicated.

Here’s how they responded:

  1. I need to help families.
  2. I want to provide leadership.
  3. I love working with people and we have to work together.
  4. I believe this is a “calling” for me.
  5. I want to help others.
  6. I want to do what I can to enrich this community.
  7. I’m concerned for the children.
  8. I believe in helping the youth.
  9. I want to eliminate barriers.
  10. I just want to do what I can to make this a better place.
  11. I enjoy working with youth.
  12. I’m a mom of a teenager and I know what people are dealing with out there.
  13. I want to be more than an “office holder”, I want to work and help.
  14. We need to strengthen the connection between the church and the community – I want to help with that.

Everyone in the room had a personal, motivating reason for being there. They weren’t there to get credit, become famous, advance a hidden agenda, make a profit off of someone else’s challenge, or to be in charge. They were there for a greater common good.  They were there for each other, they were there for the community. When we come together to serve a greater purpose beyond our ego we can get so much done, because we’re not there for selfish reasons.

Whether you’re a paid staff, consultant or volunteer–  if you claim to want to help others, then please help others.  Remember, why you’re there.

How would you respond if asked, “Why are you here?”

Reframing Conversations

“We need to reframe the work of the board.” “Let’s reframe how we’re thinking about this problem.” “Maybe if I reframe what I’m saying it’ll make more sense.”

Heard any of these or similar statements lately?  Reframing is trending, just in case you hadn’t noticed.

In our attempts to better convey a message, establish expectations, or consider possibilities; reframing has become the concept of choice for those of us looking to infuse a little clarity into the conversation.  When I think of reframing I think of neat, clean, outlines, and even boundaries.  Something reframed should be improved and enhanced. Reframe – such a simple word with high expectations.

We all know that words have meanings.  We also know that words and the accompanying meanings evoke images, emotions, and responses in the listeners.  I’ve seen three things happen when the word “reframe” is used:

1. It announces to our audience that we want to take a different approach. Listeners are expecting a different direction.  When we’re reframing, we’re not just thinking outside the box, we’re throwing the box away.

2. It sets the stage to look at an old challenge a new way.  Reframing presents the image of removing the frame that has restricted thought, growth and change.  Whatever was in the frame gets to unfold and we see it in a whole new way – this view opens the door to solutions that we hadn’t conceived.

3. It provides an opportunity to diversify the message for a broader audience.  Reframing can indicate that we care enough about the audience to ensure the message is relevant to them.  Think about the message, If we’re the only one that gets it, there’s no need to tell it.

So next time you want to set the stage for an engaging conversation consider starting by reframing something.  You never know what you’ll get once you remove the frame.