Needs over Solutions
Spark where you can
Sometimes we bring people together and we are surprised by what comes from that brief encounter. Other times, there is no spark and no way to light it.
On our journeys, even recently, we find we intend to do one thing and something surprising happens. A spark kindles. People are attracted to the brightness and want more. We have seen this again and again in sparking community within Agile Orlando, Future of Work, Women in Agile Open, Agile Florida, and even communities we’ve built inside organizations. We hope to just build connections, but we find people thirst for more. They build the community.
You know the spark means something when you step away from that community fire and it keeps on burning and growing. Sometimes it grows not where you expect. Someone quietly steps up. Some other part of the group emerges. The fire of the community is kindled by the people and grows. You can step back and enjoy the warmth.
Other times, the conditions cannot sustain the fire. They dampen the flame. We sometimes refer to this as “the ick.” No matter what you try, you can’t get it started.
Recently, one of us had a chance to travel. One day while running an errand with a friend in the city, we happened upon a fellow mumbling to himself. His clothes were disheveled and he was only wearing a sock on one foot. Occasionally, he shouted at the world. Frustration? Anger? Hard to tell.
There was a pull to help. We followed cautiously. When the outburst calmed to mumbling, we approached and asked “Sir, do you need some help? Do you need anything?” “No” was his reply. “Can I get you some shoes?” Again, “no” was his reply. The solution seemed obvious but it’s not what he needed. But then he paused and said, “I need a lighter. I need to make a fire in the woods.” Then he shuffled off as if the conversation never happened. He did no harm, but it was obvious harm had been done to him. We so often ignore mental health. How often have we seen these folks? What have we done?
The hard realization is there was nothing to do at that moment. The solution seemed obvious, but it was not what he needed. He seemed to have a need to improve his mental health although inflicting help could have caused pain. Understanding that you are not the one to help in this instance brought a deep ache to our hearts. Not now.
As many of us coach and help others, we sometimes feel this ache. We are not the ones to help at the moment. Our solution seems obvious, but it is not what an individual or group needs. You need to focus on needs first.
Other times, we are the ones that just intend to light a spark and we get a blaze of community. The two are related. They are part of a spectrum. When you can’t light a fire in the ick, it may be time to find a place where you can light a fire. That next blaze may be powerful enough to help pierce some of the ick at another time.
Spark where you can and show others how to spark. Prepare to be surprised.
Journeying in mobility,
April and Mark
P.S., If you want to learn more about sparking, join us on Jul 22, 2021 for our next journey on Curating for Needs.