What kind of help do you need?

"I want to get lost" by Xabier.M on flicr.comLast month I took a personal mini-retreat and learned came to an important realization.

I don’t know how to ask for help. I tend to insist on doing everything myself.

So, true to form, I’ve started to read about how I can do better on this. Yes, that’s right. I’m not asking for help to learn to ask for help. I’m doing it myself when it comes to getting over my obsession with doing it myself.

And I’ve found the perfect book for me, or at least the perfect book title: You don’t have to do it alone.

The authors talk about how to create effective involvement in projects, and the first step the identify is to ask, “What kind of involvement do you need?

They identify 4 types:

  1. Know-how involvement: Somebody knows how to do something you don’t know how to do, or they know how to do it better, and you need their know-how.
  2. Arms and legs involvement: Think of a barn-raising, or a park cleanup. You need help to carry out a task that is just too big for you. Or maybe it’s not the best use of your time to do it all yourself.
  3. Care and commitment involvement: The other common phrase here is “buy-in.” This kind of involvement is to ensure that people are on-board and committed to a chosen decision, project, or endeavor.
  4. Teaching and learning involvement: this is the king of involvement where people learn and grow and develop in their ability to complete a task or shoulder a responsibility. This kind of involvement is a big reason why I think it’s important for ICPJ to have interns.

Those are the 4 involvement types listed in the book. To them I would add a fifth: Leadership involvement. Sometimes there’s a project that just won’t happen unless someone else takes the reigns and says, “I’ll make sure this moves forward.”

At ICPJ, as a volunteer-based organization, many of our projects depend on volunteer leadership involvement.

I find this taxonomy useful because it helps me thinks more clearly about what kind of involvement do I need in various projects. In fundraising, it’s a bit of all of them. With structure changes and strategic planning, it’s less about arms and legs and more about care and commitment. Knowing that helps me fine-tune how I approach getting involvement in each of my projects.

And yes, so far I still figure that out on my own.

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