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Save Yourself from Your List

Jeanne Faulconer
Mooresville, North Carolina, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 34 No. 4, August-September 1998, p. 76

When I was a new Leader, I often had conversations with myself:

"How will I find time to make the order to LLLI?"

"I can't possibly deliver our meeting announcements to all the doctors' offices next month, much less get them printed."

"No one has volunteered to bring refreshments to the meeting. I'll either have to spend a lot of time on the phone getting someone or I'll have to bake something myself"

I found out I was talking to the wrong person! It turned out that my concerns about getting things done were also the thoughts of my co-Leaders. We began to discuss our "things to do" at Leaders Meetings and Planning Meetings. We made a wish list of all the tasks we'd like to complete. We divided them up as best we could and also brainstormed about which of our members might be interested in helping out. We found that young mothers with small children were actually quite willing to add a little LLL work to their lives, especially if the tasks were specific and limited. As a bonus, we have seen these members become Group workers and Leader Applicants.

But even with the dividing of tasks, we found there are still some jobs that no one could commit to at the moment. Co-Leader Susan Kerr struck us with lightning: some of the jobs were not basic responsibilities of leadership.

Eagerly we consulted our LEADER'S HANDBOOK (1998 edition) and looked at the list of responsibilities (page 4). While we would have loved to complete every item on our wish list, we could still meet our commitment to LLL without doing them. So we pared our list. The relief was palpable. We were saved from our own lists.

Even if you are a lone Leader with no one to share the work, using the "Basic LLL Leader Responsibilities" to help you prioritize can reduce the stress of too much to do.

Accepting the limitations of your own time can be difficult. The need to reach people about breastfeeding is so great; babies are depending on it. But, if you take on extras at a bad time, you may start to feel trapped. It may cross your mind that you need to quit LLL to get your life back. You may feel resentful that LLL is taking time from your family. You may even shortchange one of the primary responsibilities of leadership, for example, communicating with your District Advisor/Coordinator or keeping Group Treasury records up-to-date.

Accepting the limitations of your co-Leaders' or members' time may also be difficult. It's important to remember that while you have agreed to fulfill the basic responsibilities of leadership, Leaders differ in their interests, lifestyles and other responsibilities. These differences lead to a varying ability to take on extra commitments. We must trust all Leaders, in the same way we trust mothers at our meetings, to know their own situation best.

As it has turned out, most of the time everything on our "to do" list does get done within a couple of months. It seems that giving ourselves permission not to do everything actually helps us become more efficient. We are able to concentrate on the basic responsibilities of leadership and we don't waste a lot of energy feeling guilty about what we haven't finished Then, when one of us sees a "less busy" week coming up, we volunteer ourselves for one of the extra jobs.

Using the "Basic LLL Leader Responsibilities" to prioritize tasks greases the wheels of co-leading. It is easier to be empathetic when someone says, "I just can't add anything else," knowing that the same escape valve will be available to you when you need it.

While reassuring you that it's healthy to turn down extras when you need to, I don't want to minimize the contributions of Leaders who regularly extend themselves beyond the basic responsibilities. We are all enriched by Leaders who take on Area Council positions, organize World Walks, meet with physicians, serve on breastfeeding coalitions, speak at conferences and workshops. When one of us takes on extras, we are rewarded through learning new skills, developing relationships and helping others.

I've always loved the special opportunities that LLL has offered me outside the realm of basic responsibilities. In fact, I've found it to my benefit to trim my non- LLL activities so I can fit more LLL in!

Just the same, it's a good feeling to know LLL has provided us with an official "to do" list that is more manageable the one I usually create for myself.

Basic La Leche League Leader Responsibilities

A La Leche League Leader:

  • Helps mothers one-to-one, by telephone or in person, keeping accurate records of these helping situations.
  • Plans and leads monthly Series Meetings.
  • Supervises the management of the Group, including membership, finances, Group workers, Group Library and materials for sale; informs the Area Coordinator of Leaders (usually through the District Advisor/Coordinator) about her LLL activities through written monthly reports.
  • Keeps up-to-date on all important breastfeeding information, taking advantage of LLL opportunities for continuing education through publications, meetings, correspondence and the network of resource Leaders.
  • Takes an active role in helping other mothers find out about leadership and helps them prepare to become LLL Leaders.

LLLI Board of Directors,
February 98

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