Looking back at some projects I’ve been doing on a voluntary basis, there are a few which stand out for me. They stand out as I could see how they made a difference, one I contributed to. In one case I initiated a competition for creative young entrepreneurs in Luxembourg (CYEL) and helped to establish it as a yearly event. With another project, I helped reestablish a train the trainer training within JCI Germany.
In both cases, an important part of the process was to let them go.
I had been very clear with myself, that I would walk away from CYEL as soon as possible. When I initiated the project I was JCI Luxembourg national president. This prompted me to find someone else who would be actively leading that project. I only took up a supporting role. During the first two years, we all worked very hard on it. It was a fun and challenging project the team handled extremely well. In the third year, I started to let go and reduced my involvement to soon only attend the event as a guest. While the event changed along the years I continued to see the essence of it being preserved. I enjoyed seeing it continue while others shaped it.
With the train the trainer project things have been slightly different as I came to lead it. Nevertheless, after a few years, I handed that project to my successor and was looking forward to seeing him shape and enhance it in the future. Sadly he couldn’t continue as others decided to take the project over. In that follow up process we saw how essential details of our work was being reshaped and finally removed.
It is natural that those who take over will add their ideas to a project which has become theirs to lead.
Whatever we contributed to a project will remain our contribution. But once it has been contributed it isn’t ours anymore.
Sometimes it is a challenge to see how that contribution is taken and transformed. When it transports our values and represents a big work investment it often comes along with our hope to make a difference, one that goes beyond the contribution we already made.
While the gift of the contribution can’t be taken away from us, what is being created from it belongs to those who received the gift. They can choose to use the gift as only they can use it.
We can be frustrated if what is being done doesn’t match our expectations. Or we can be curious to learn more about their results and how they make a difference.