August 29, 2023
That One or Two or Even a Few
As I checked in with colleagues about how their county fairs went, I was struck by two things.
First, the fairs seemed to go well this year. Overall, the attitudes exhibited by 4-Hers, their families, boards, volunteers and fair-goers seemed to be good, even with the oppressive heat experienced during some fairs.
Second, most of our colleagues had one or two episodes where people became upset, or activities or processes that could have gone better.
Many extension professionals tend to be people-pleasers and perfectionists; I include myself in that category. To those people, note the issue and think of ways to improve it next year. Then, move on.
When I was actively engaged in extension specialist work and in the classroom, I tended to get very strong evaluations. Did I focus on all the good evaluations that I received from 95% of my students and participants? No.
Instead, I focused on the one or two or even a few that indicated that they were disappointed.
I agonized on why and how the whole workshop or course went wrong, rather than just noting their discontent, why they were disappointed (if a reason was given), deciding how I could do better next time and celebrating the fact that the workshop or course was -- overall -- a major success.
Fairs are complex activities. There are hundreds and even thousands of activities, social interactions, judgements and decisions that take place. If you have a few things that could have gone better, note the issues and figure out what you need to do to improve next time.
Then, celebrate the reality. Celebrate the fact that there were thousands of things that did go well. Don’t let that one or two or even a few flies in the ointment get you down. You did good.