Regardless of what change we wish to make, or what adventure we wish to embark upon, the question of how to begin can often create the largest stumbling block for us. We look for advice, directional signs, or step-by-step instructions. Sometimes we need a clear outline to follow, and other times we want only a point in the right direction.
In this modern day of information overload, often when we ask the question, we find ourselves overwhelmed by the flood of answers we are given. Maybe we aren’t asking the right question, or maybe people aren’t listening to the question we are trying to ask?
In the enthusiasm to share answers, many will rush to supply great suggestions that have little to do with the needs of the person seeking help.
This information overload – or suggestion dump – became quite evident to me recently when a new quilt enthusiast asked the question, “How do I start?” The answers came pouring in with little regard to the personal situation of the newbie. Where do they live? What is their budget? Do they have any background in the skill set?
Without taking the time to learn a bit about the person asking the question, the answers not only can overwhelm but they can misdirect. Additionally, the flood of answers may begin to seem like attention seeking rather than assistance giving. The person who posed the question may find themselves wishing they had not.
There is an old English proverb that states, “Hell is full of good meanings, but heaven is full of good works.” Over time, it has been altered to, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Taking the time to understand the question – to understand the individual asking the question – is vital. The focus should be on that individual and not on ourselves, or worse, on our desire to promote others. When a person, for whatever reason asks, “How do I begin?”, we should do our best to remove obstacles rather than place more in their path.
Hoping that I am doing good works and not the other option, I have embarked upon Pithy Patchwork Projects. I explain a bit of my intent in this video.
We live in a world were we no longer seem to celebrate the concept of mastering a craft or in celebrating the beginning of that journey.
There is nothing wrong with intermediate, but that is not a place where we get to sit while putting down the beginners or scoffing at the journey of further improvement.
I will likely never be a master, but I will never stop improving, nor will I ever forget the joy of beginning. The process of self-improvement, even when it is diminutive improvement, is where the joy truly begins. For in that small, simple advancement of the skill, we are rewakening the memories of our first glorious attempts at something that inspired us to try something new.
I have inherited heirlooms from my grandmothers, but I don’t think they ever set out to make an heirloom. They were practical women who made beautiful textile creations. Almost all of items I have inherited have been used, some are even threadbare. The threadbare ones are cherished as much as the ones that are still waiting to fulfill a useful purpose.
This is why I make things to be loved rather than placed on display. Practical, everyday items can be beautiful. Beautiful, well-made items, when cared for, can be loved and be treasured and still remain beautiful. I would rather have the items I make get loved and get worn out than to have them last for generations in pristine condition.
Leadership should be from the front, even when it is behind the scenes.
Leading the way means to take the first steps and chart the course that others will do well to follow. This can be done behind the scenes as is the case with most organizations that rely on volunteers. While the volunteer army goes forth to accomplish the goal, their success heavily relies upon the plan and focus designed by the leadership who may very well not be with them on the battlefield.
Or in other words, a good farmer does not need to directly harvest the crop if he has a harvest plan that can successfully be followed by his field hands.
Oh the wonderful things my daughter says. We were having a very intense (pleasant, not contentious) discussion on a topic both confounding and current, when she summed up the situation in fabulous fiber artist form.
“It may be called a Cashmere Rabbit, but that doesn’t make it cashmere.”