“To improve we must start from where we are, not from where we should be, or where someone else is, or even from where others think we are.” Stephen R Covey

If we are to provide service to others we should consider, first, what our talents, knowledge and skills are. What do we possess that we can utilise in the service of other people? Or to come at it from another direction, what do those people need, and do we have ‘that’?

Problems occasionally arise when someone expects us to volunteer for something with no understanding of our capabilities, then seem insulted, dismayed or even disgusted when we fail to volunteer because we know that we don’t have what is needed for the services sought. Their assumption that we have the required capacities is a paradigm that they have assumed, a paradigm that provides a warped perspective. And our attempts at explanation are deemed, through those paradigms, to be excuses and not valid reasons for not providing the desired results. Of course, the greater the hole that they are in, the greater the disdain for our reluctance to fill it for them.

If you have a skill and you wish to serve, do so. If you do not have the skill, don’t; and if you don’t have the desire to commit to the provision of a service then don’t. Reluctant provision of a service does nothing for any of the parties involved.

But wherever possible, explain politely why it is you won’t be providing that service. Try to explain it from their point of reference; “I don’t have the skills you need,” or “I’m sorry but I can’t commit to that because of my other (genuine) commitments.” If they can’t accept it, so be it – that’s their Circle of Concern, not yours.

So – know where you are so that you know what you can provide.