Where did that come from?
I sent an email yesterday. No, I’m not a Luddite. I haven’t decided to write about my entry into the modern world of communication. It’s just that this particular email made me feel just a little uncomfortable.
Email communication, as “They” commonly tell us, has destroyed proper communication. Emails are easy to pen – or should that be key – and are thrown around for people to misinterpret with such gay abandon that we no longer talk to people. Apparently we’re losing the ability to read the unspoken elements of a conversation; the body language and the tone and pitch that add depth and quality to the speech.
But alas, whilst I could go on about our dependence on electronic mail, this isn’t so much about email per se, but more about “the” email that I sent. You know the one that made me feel decidedly…well…icky!
It all came about when I was wrapping shoe boxes and filling them with a random assortment of items. These get distributed by an organisation to children in parts of Europe that are unlikely to see a decent meal let alone any kind of festive offering. I had a bit of a eureka moment. It involved a link between the people who deliver my veg box and a shoe box charity. The details are irrelevant; the point is I felt compelled to pass on my idea.
Most people will at times have a good idea. Good ideas aren’t the sole domain of the learned, monied or titled. But when we have one of these moments of clarity what do we do? Do we brush it aside, labelling it as fanciful? How about dismissing it with the old chestnut “Someone will already have thought of it!”? Or maybe you just think it’s a bad idea.
One day Helen Daniels was dusting. She couldn’t get under something to dust it properly – that annoying space that you find under digi boxes or audio equipment. She invented the Flatmate duster which is now Lakelands 3rd biggest selling product. Or how about Tim Berners-Lee, James Dyson or Trevor Baylis. All of these people have had great ideas – and probably a fair few rubbish ones (http:// anyone?) – but the one thing that links them together is that they followed through on their moments of inspiration.
With this in mind I sat and wrote an email to the veg box company. I laid out my idea and suggested that it would be nice if they could look in to it. I apologised profusely for wasting their time, intruding on their business and for sending them this most ridiculous of ideas. Before my nerve went I pressed send. It was at this point I broke out in a cold sweat and sat waiting for the derisory response which I knew was going to wing its way straight back.
Putting the icky feeling to one side, I got to thinking about how we use our ideas. All of the greatest fundraising activities must have started somewhere; they didn’t just appear out of nowhere. Do we self-censor? I think we do. Do we only include certain people in fundraising brainstorms? Probably. Do we only pass on ideas if they relate to our organisation or the type of fundraising we’re involved in? Almost certainly.
Proposing we change the fundamental way in which we operate isn’t really practical. But here’s a thought for something that might be; next time you have an idea that might benefit a person or an organisation, pass it on. It might feel a bit weird; indeed you might feel really uncomfortable especially if you have no connection to them, because after all we’re British and we just don’t do that kind of thing! And doing it by email (as I have discovered) doesn’t provide the cushioning effect you might be hoping for. But the important thing is that if you have no use for your idea let someone else make use of it if you think that there is any chance that they might benefit from it.
It’s a radical thought, but one worth thinking about.