Mistakes I’ve Made #6

29 March 2011 — Leave a comment

Photo: 'EXECUTED BY MISTAKE' by the_moog on Flickr

Everyone makes mistakes, and when it comes to my youth work I’ve made some clangers! Hopefully by reproducing them here, it may give you a bit of a laugh and help you to avoid doing the same thing.


Mistake #6: Trying to do everything

By nature, I’m a bit of a generalist. I don’t have any one thing I’m amazing at, but instead I can turn my hand to most things and get reasonable results – well at least not terrible results. This website is a case in point. Since starting blogging in 2004, I’ve learnt html code, a bit of php, javascript, image editing, configuring web servers, etc. More importantly, I’ve also learnt to think more clearly and construct better blog posts. I’m not great at any of these things, but I know enough to get by. I like to explore and learn.

The trouble is, when you do most things to an OK standard you start to think that you might as well do everything yourself. When it comes to youth work, I’m really guilty of trying to do everything. It may be just my own character flaw, but it’s so much easier to get on with something instead of having to spend time explaining it to someone who may do it wrong anyway. 😉

A classic example of my idiocy is when we organised a youth group residential. While I had a team of six volunteers coming on the weekend, I decided it was easier to give each of them one task or talk, and do the rest myself. So I wrote and sent letters, did the budget, took money, booked the venue, planned the programme, worked out the menu, organised transport, collected equipment, etc, etc. None of this was particularly difficult, but it was time consuming and I had no-one to plan it with or check things with. Also, while I did try and book people to come and run specific tasks, they weren’t available and I didn’t find the time to sort anything else out.

It ended up that on that particular weekend that although I was in charge of whole thing, I also led the worship for the young people (on guitar), I organised most of the meals (because I didn’t find anyone to do the catering), did a teaching session, and even stayed up on late duty! It was completely ridiculous and totally my own fault. Of course, the team were amazing and pulled together to make it work. The young people even had a good time!

I did learn from that experience that I need to communicate better with others and trust them to take on tasks, even if they do things differently from me. I think I’ve been getting better…

So what about you? Have YOU ever taken on too much or struggle to delegate? Share with us in the comments!


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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

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