Saturday, September 30, 2006

Each Little Bit Helps

I spent most of today (8:00 am to 3:00 pm) helping my brother-in-law move. I have done this kind of thing quite often in my life and I have noticed something worth mentioning. When there are lots of people around to help the moves go much easier. (This would be a good time for every reader to say "duh!")

In the evening I went to the priesthood session of general conference at a local church building. When the session was over there were hundreds of folding chairs that needed to be put away. It occurred to me that if ever person in attendance folded one chair the work would be done in 30 seconds. Some might argue that only the people on the folding chairs should have to help. If that were the case it would be two chairs per person and the work would be done in less than one minute. Reality is that 75% or more of those in attendance leave without thinking about the chairs and many only pick up one or two chairs so those who try to clean up all the chairs have to take 6 or 8 chairs each and the work takes 5 minutes.

I am not trying to complain about those who do not pick up chairs. As I have shown, it is a small job even with most of the people not participating. What struck me was that there is another attitude which could make a long task out of cleaning up the chairs. If the chair cleanup were assigned to a group of perhaps 5 people, instead of a large-scale volunteer effort, the chair cleanup would require each person to pick up at least 40 chairs and the cleanup would likely take half an hour to accomplish.

As I watched the chairs disappear almost magically this evening I began to contemplate how much of the work in our lives really works best if each person would just contribute a small effort rather than having each major job assigned to a small group of specialists.

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