James came in the other day and wanted to volunteer so I asked him if he could bag some food for the food pantry and gave him a list of food and quantities to go in each bag.
Simple, or so I thought.
When I returned awhile later to check on his progress, I found that he wasn’t following the list and didn’t quite understand my instructions.
In cases like this I always wonder if I hadn’t explained myself properly or maybe I should have demonstrated exactly how I wanted it done.
And James is a pretty smart guy, but sometimes some of the people we see have problems understanding simple tasks.
Something that might seem easy for you or I to accomplish isn’t quite understood.
I like to think of cases like this as ‘mindset’ issues.
They may have received so much negative input that they have a hard time believing that they can accomplish a certain task.
Or their complete lack of experience in the world of work leaves them at a disadvantage.
In most cases it’s not about the strategy or technique, but it’s more about the persons full understanding of the task at hand – their mindset.
It’s not really about which specific steps they must take to accomplish the job – it’s why they are taking each step and how they fit together as a whole.
Out mind is a tool that can either work for us or against us and we try and feed the minds of those who come down for help.
We teach daily life skills at the Mission in areas like hygiene, hypothermia, getting along with others and money management.
We do this through instructional videos, instructional handouts that are left on the soup kitchen tables for reading, and by getting them to work alongside others who have more experience.
Sometimes a simple, step-by-step instruction list just doesn’t work, but once they gain a little bit of experience and see how a task fits together the light clicks on and what may have seemed like a jumble of disconnected steps suddenly becomes clear as day.
I love all these guys and I’m not putting anyone down, because we all have blind spots in some areas.
But I have found that feeding the minds of those we help goes a long way in helping to improve some of those bind spots.