Monthly Archives: October 2007

Action Versus Inaction

Yet another Podcamp has ended.

Having been on the organizing team for three podcamps to date, I have learned a ton about conference planning in the past year, supplementing what I had already picked up working for the ADA Disability Services team for the Super Bowl for eight years.

One of the biggest things I was reminded of was the principal of “Life Rewards Action, Not Inaction.”  In many group project situations, you have the Pareto Principle at work, where 80% of the results come from 20% of the participants.  I have hoped that in a community guided and generated event like Podcamp, this would not prove to be the case, but sadly enough, Pareto holds true.

The problem with this is that when 80% of the work is done by 20% of the volunteers, that 2o% is left feeling abused and sometimes burned out.  The 80%, enjoying the fruits of the labor of the 20%, don’t seem to care one bit, either, and who can blame them?  If you get a free ride, what’s your incentive to change what you’re doing?

So- do you want to be a doer or a slacker?  How long do you think you can remain a slacker before the doers write you off totally, or go do something else?

I have to remind myself of this for several reasons.  Sometimes I find myself getting stuck in the 80% mentality, waiting for something to magically happen, waiting for other people to do for me.  And then I remind myself that I am the only one holding myself back.  I am in charge of me, and I have the power to change the way I act and feel about things.  If I am frustrated with a situation, what can I do to change it?  What can I do to meet my own needs?

Life does not stand around with a pack of prizes, waiting to hand them out to you- you have to go get them yourself.  And once people find out you are a 20% person, good things start happening.  You earn trust and respect.  You become a go to person on many levels.  You win by consistently producing tangible results by your actions.

80%’ers talk a good game.   They are looking for results, hopefully delivered to them on a silver platter.  They may have a really good and impressive front, but when it comes down to tangibles, often there’s a dramatic drop off in productivity.

Lord knows, there are many aspects of my life where I am an 80%er. Things I intend to do, but never seem to get to; things I simply haven’t made a priority in my life. Regular exercise for example- not doing it as often as I’d like- but small changes- only a 20% change, might get me to where I want to go.

In many things, I try to be a 20%er.  I know I can get things done.  And I worry that by being a 20%er, I am enabling the 80%ers on the team.  But I know I am long past the days of having others do the work and then try to take the credit.  I will take all the credit for what I do accomplish, rather than sit quietly in the background, seething as someone takes credit for my work.  No more.

Why is this post necessary?

This post is for me as well as the world at large.  I am pretty sure I am finished with being the den mother to others (except my own family), and I will be expecting people to pull their own weight in future projects.  I expect others to be responsible and pro-active.

This is at the heart of a larger issue in the new media world- Transparency.  Being honest about what you can and cannot accomplish, where your personal boundaries are,  what you can accomplish with your personal bandwidth, is important.  By being reliable and honest, you build trust and real world business relationships that will serve you well in the long run.  otherwise, all the philosophy we spout, all the “thought leadership” we provide, is nothing more than “content-free speech”.

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