Planning to Fail

Again this week, I was approached with questions about how a certain group, could somehow attract the involvement of ‘young people,’ and yes they meant, people my age 🙂 They wanted to know if I had any ideas on what would be interesting to young couples and families. They wanted to create an organization of these individuals to get together and have meetings and plan community service type projects that would improve their world and ours. I said in response, “Well, that is the magic question.” If you find out the answer, you will have solved a great issue indeed.”

I started out by saying, ‘again’, because I have had this conversation with various leaders over the last few years, countless times. I used be part of a community organization called Young Professionals of Franklin County. The aim in that group was to do exactly this same thing. Bring together a younger demographic group of people, than the typical local service group has attending. We tried various ways to ‘ignite interest’ and ’empower people to create a difference in their local community’… Okay, I just made those things up, but you get the gist. Overall, we basically failed to do so, and at the end, I was president. 🙁

In this latest conversation, I again heard that there is vigorous desire to ‘get’ people involved. I think therein lies the problem. Whenever we are trying to ‘get’ something from someone, our whole operation is in jeopardy. When someone wants to ‘get’ something from me, I am very hesitant. My subconscious is on alert. What am I about to lose to this person or organization? My time? My money? My limited supply of energy and ideas?

I certainly can envision a group setting of younger folks, who come together regularly and work to make something cool happen. They could involve their own kids, their needs too, they could have fun together doing it. They could have specific detailed agendas on a unique topic, or they could dream big and create community wide projects or events. It all makes sense in the mind… So why does it seem to be such an uphill battle??

Truthfully, I know this is going on in certain places. Some groups do have this cool stuff going on. I have seen it in action. I know that the people talking to me about it, are trying to start something new, or think this will be the solution to a problem of their aging and dwindling church or service group.

Usually part of this conversation, is that we need to find a good time, that isn’t already taken up by other activities. We need to plan meetings or events around the busy-ness of a young family, so they can more easily attend. We need to be aware of all kinds of other commitments, like youth sports stuff, school stuff, working out of town, working in town, church stuff, and recreational stuff. We need to not plan things in opposition to other things going on. We need to make it easier for them… HA!


It’s a broken record. I have heard it all. I have been in meeting after meeting, and the leaders are saying the same things. How can we ‘get’ these people interested…

It’s not going to happen like that, IMHO. I am not going to get involved again, in one of these startups, that is all about ‘getting’ people together and then figuring out a project and then making plans to make it happen. I know, it sounds like a real blast, right? So why am I opting out??

Because for me, we’ve got to get to the rooooot, of the cause. When we notice the power of the problem to be solved, or the difference to make, specifically, then we will become the thing that people attend, instead of attending other things. We’ve got to quit chasing around a convenient time to do something. There isn’t one. We’ve got to quit wondering about what great idea a group of young minds could come up with. They already have their ideas, they already have interests and things they expend time energy and ideas on. We don’t need to get together to invent those. People have their priorities in place, based on their core beliefs about what is important to them, right now, and for the future.

If the core beliefs stay the same, all these little attempts are going to sparkle and fade, without a bunch of luck involved. There are certain things I do now, in my life, that I didn’t used to do. There are things I used to do, that I don’t do now. None of that has to do with the efforts of a community group and a service project. I’m sorry, it just doesn’t.

My core belief system was rocked, it was transformed, and changed over the course of several years. Maybe it is just part of growing up. I know however, specific areas in which my inner stance has shifted, from one belief to another. This is the power of Jesus Christ. This is the power of experiencing suicide by a loved one. This is the power of freeing myself of from personal debt, in so many ways. This is the power of Christian marriage. These things can transform an individual. Individuals with congruent inner stances, can make great things happen together.

Designing a club to be easier, or more lukewarm to appeal to an imaginary group of ‘young people,’ doesn’t appeal to me at all. Actually, for me, I want a specific, detailed problem that I can see where I can individually make a difference today. I want to see something radical, I want something exclusive and with lots of responsibility, not watered down and easy.

I get these things now, at the Brand’N Iron. I feel that we are serving a community cause, by creating a great business, continuing to improve it, providing jobs, cooking food. These are basic important things to the community, that entrepreneurship allows a person to do.

So, Yes, it is possible to get young people engaged. It is possible to do good things in our community. A lot of it is going on right now already, I think it is happening in business.

After throwing around a few of my thoughts on this issue, maybe you want to respond. Maybe you think I’m all wet. Maybe you see another way, that I don’t see. I am truly burned out with idea of sitting in a room and talking things to death until nothing happens. I am however, on fire with the idea, that I can take an idea, take some money, or some elbow grease, or both and create change, for the better, that is immediate, is tiny, or expansive, all within the course of a few hours, or a week, or an instant.

I am now more responsive to seeing the change actually happen and experiencing results, than to sit there and think about the plan to plan to make something happen… maybe.

There! I have ranted on this topic. And I am done. I will go off to my job now, and serve people, and work hard. and probably change a bunch of stuff, without a decision of the board. I hope we aren’t so successful, that someone thinks we need a board to run it.



Aaron Nichols

2 thoughts on “Planning to Fail

  1. Here’s my input– there already are well established groups, locally, nationally & internationally who already do all those things you talk about– Why does another group have to be formed?? Many of the local civic clubs are struggling for membership– this is where those “young” people who are interested should join, become involved and make a difference. It’s not about the time, the location and all those things you mention- it’s about personal choice & commitment to a mission- that’s what I see lacking is the commitment — now I’m done!!

  2. I am much more likely to respond to a project that needs to be done than to ;a structure of a club. I think that is kinda where you are……….a goal first. One thing I always found……..clubs had a demographic: ie. Young Men’s Club, Business Women, etc. That made them exclusive, and me either left out or uninterested!! A Whosoever Club………..Whosoever wants to join the club, welcome. All demographics..

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