Use What You Have

Dear reader,

our EU project has been successfully submitted. We managed with elegance, joy and lots of Skype issues. Luckily I have quite some number of Estonian friends, so there’s hope this too will improve sometimes soon.

It was a very hard task though, especially for someone who’s never done it and is not used to “the language”, “the style”, everything in between and has no clue about “how things are (or get) done”. Hardly a day passed where I managed to do anything else but sit in front of my two laptops and iPad or sleep or cook. Besides working on this project, I had to deliver a 2-day training (with lots of pleasure of course, and yet it had to be designed brand new, which also takes time and intellectual input) and we’ve launched the registration for Slovenian first Professional Solution Focused Training for those who would like to learn the skills and enhance their practice (Slovenians do check the link, it’s well worthwhile and it is published on a brand new Slovenian website. Oh right –  managed to do that as well somehow). No wonder I even abandoned my piano.

Over the last Skype, last Friday as we (our partnership) submitted the proposal, we discussed about our future tasks and ways of moving forward. One of the partners noted, she was really pleased with our strategy, ways of how we communicated, the atmosphere and energy. That is was so straightforward what had to be done, when and how.

There was a moment of my confession: had to admit there was no strategy. I as the coordinator, had absolutely no idea how we’ll make things happen and how we’re going to put a one-year long project together in due time. Honestly, all I knew was the next step. And that somehow got us to submit the project five days before the deadline.

How could that be? Very simple: use what you have. Don’t mourn about what you don’t have (yet or still) and instead utilize what you have at your disposal. It’s much more than what it first appears. And it’s enough to get you to where you need to be – to the next step. And then to the next one. And the next one. And so on. What worked for us and what we can learn from this:

  • We are a huge partnership. This makes it very hard to coordinate, true. And also, that means endless resoruces. If you work alone, you might get there fast. But if you work together, you might get far. Utilize partner’s resources.
  • When things go wrong, it’s probably not the end yet. Things will turn out fine. Trust the process.
  • Ask for help. If somebody offers their help and you need it, go for it. If they wouldn’t want to help, they wouldn’t offer it.
  • Be a voice, not an echo. If you want good results, you have to work harder than anyone else. Your passion will be a great example for others to follow and duplicate it. But if you expect others will do their job instead of you, you won’t get excellent results. And others will notice. Yes, they will.
  • Celebrate success. No matter how small. Celebrate it together with those who contributed to it. No matter the size of their contribution.
  • When somebody doesn’t do their job, trust them they have a good reason to delay or not do it. Don’t assume anything. They probably have a good reason and they will do their job as soon as they can.
  • Go wild! Dream about your project, dare to exaggerate. Be innovative and don’t follow the mainstream. We already have enough followers. We need breakthroughs. And they don’t come packed with instruction.

This is our lesson. It’s not a recipe. You’ll find your own lesson. However you might get inspired by ours. Good luck with your projects, whatever they are!


submitted application

Submitted! Well done team!!!

How to Prepare for the Unknown: a Word About an EU Project

Dear reader,

so much has happened since the last post and it’s overwhelming. This is how my office looks like and it first started with a laptop and a notebook. Then there was a laptop and an iPad (for skype) and a notebook and a cup of tea. Today I’m working on two laptops, one iPad, two cups of tea (and I won’t be showing you the trash bin with remaining snacks), one notebook and a bunch of sheets torn out of that notebook. There are 15 people working together on an EU project, a mobility project for youth workers that will bring together about 25 participants from 11 different countries, 7 expert facilitators who use Solution Focused Coaching in their line of work and they will be working together in three connected but separate activities through May 2016 until February 2017.

project work.jpg

I’m the project coordinator and I’ve never done such a thing before. With zero experience I’m now hosting a huge partnership and a very demanding and high quality project, totally innovative and pioneering in the field, as it is gathering and linking together highly efficient expertise and social inclusion within the youth field.

I had no idea how to start this, nor how to navigate through the activities we should do. I only knew one thing – I was absolutely confident that partners, who were invited to join this initiative, have endless resoruces and skills and all I have to do is to find and address their skills as well as find out what they are passionate about and let them express it in that area. Since I’m good at finding these skills, I was completely okay with not knowing what will happen. So this whole process is one huge Solution Focused Approach in action.

Right now we are somewhere halfway through. It is a lot of work and my brain capacities are 95% occupied for more than 12 hours/day. When I sleep I reminisce about new ideas. When I cook I think about what next steps to take and whether I’ve forgotten something. While writing this post I’m already thinking about what will happen in the skype meeting we have this evening and the things I shouldn’t forget to ask. But there is one thing that constantly worries me: whether I will be capable to provide enough space for everybody to be included and heard and at the same time be the engine that pushes the whole thing forward. It would be much much easier to simply present the partners the application form and ask them to sign it. However that’s not a partnership project. Ours aspires to be. And yet I have no idea whether the path we are going is optimal or we could (or should) have done something different. I have absolutely no idea what will happen by the end of next week, yet I’m supposed to be a coordinator who knows these kind of things. The only thing I know is what the next step will be and then it is a question of addressing the partners’ needs and opinion to provide us with a glimpse of a next chapter.

And you know what? I’m super comfortable with this discomfort, because I trust the next step will appear right when we need to take it. What I’m a little less comfortable is that this is clearly a school for life and it will provide evidence of how much all my professional training and my theorizing to act in complex situations have been worthwhile, meaning whether I would be able to coordinate this huge piece of work in a solution focused way or not.

Let’s wait, hope, work and see …