When I was little, not unlike most kids, I had real trouble making peanut butter sandwiches. This was especially true when the peanut butter was cold and the bread was that really soft white stuff most of us ate all those years ago. I would give it my best shot, but invariably my frustration would turn to rage, and my blood pressure, even at 9 years old, would skyrocket.
With a red face and eyes near tears, I would hand my mother a sphere of Wonder Bread and Jif, which looked way more like a brown and white softball than a sandwich. “I can’t do it!”
Her predictable reply was always, “Barbara, there’s no such word as ‘can’t’.” Well, this sent me nearly into orbit. In my head (I was too smart to give her much lip), I ran through all sorts of retorts. “Really? Tell that to Noah Webster.” Or, “Oh, yeah? There is too such a word, and since it’s really two words, you don’t know what your talking about, times two.”
If I kept my mouth shut, she would relent and make me a sandwich; I’d calm down and eat lunch, and go about my business.
Obviously, in her perhaps inartful way, my mother was trying to give me some pretty good advice. It might have wormed its way into my head earlier if she had been more direct, but the upshot is, she wanted me to believe that with some patience, perseverance and hard work, I could do pretty much anything I tried.
Organizations are nothing other than the collection of people who come together to make them work. And like people, organizations all develop a culture or, one might say, an attitude. We have all worked with organizations that are really effective at achieving their goals—and a lot of that has to do with the organization’s attitude. We have also seen the opposite: organizations that can’t seem to accomplish much of anything and who, when asked, resort to my peanut butter sandwich frame of mind—believing that they ‘can’t’ deliver, and often they don’t.
I am proud to say that I think YCCAC/Nasson is an organization with an ‘attitude’ that is geared toward innovation and producing high quality work. We need to nurture this, and expect it from each other, especially now in this time of high community needs.
Let’s promise each other to get rid of the notion that we ‘can’t’ deliver what’s asked of us. Instead, let’s assume that, given the proper tools, resources and support that we can deliver. Of course, there will be work that will not be feasible, prudent, or wise for us to undertake; but let’s agree that in general, our first impulse will rarely if ever be, ‘we can’t do that’, but rather, with patience, perseverance and hard work, we can deliver.
And at our next all Agency gathering, let’s have peanut butter sandwiches. I promise not to make them (unless you want to play softball.)