It ain’t what you do …

“There is more than one way to skin a cat” apparently, although I cannot say that I have tried any of them. In life we are faced with hundreds of things to do every day, and we can choose how we do them. Does it make a difference how we do things, or are the results the things that matter? That is what I would like to explore today.

Of course good manners and etiquette dictate that the way we do things does matter. The end result could be that you have eaten a good meal, but the way you eat can make a difference. On a basic level, did you manage to get all of the food in your mouth? Or did you spray a load over the table? Did you remember to chew with your mouth closed? To get a bit more advanced did you use cutlery? Then further still, did you use the correct cutlery? Hopefully you weren’t using a steak knife to spread butter, or a fish knife to try and cut a lamb chop. So in this instance I would say it does matter how you do things.

Staying with food you can look at the production of various foods and see that how things are done that can make a difference to the food. Obviously we know that you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, but do you have to do things exactly to get the correct result? I am a big fan of Chilli Con carne and enjoy making it. Every time I make it, something different happens, I put something different in, I change it slightly and I have a tasty meal. The method doesn’t seem to matter too much. You could take this too far however and end up trying to make a cheese toastie by ironing your cheese sandwich.

Some foods do have very strict rules about how they should be prepared. Kobe beef can only be bought from Japan, because of the strict rules in place to have it officially called ‘Kobe beef’. In a similar fashion many foods have strict rules in place – champagne, stilton, Melton Mowbray Pork pie to name just a few. The method makes a difference.

The way we do things is not just limited to food however; think of taking time off work. For most people if you want to book a holiday there is some way that you tell your employer in advance that you want to have time off. Even if you have holiday owed to you, if you ring work half an hour before you are due in and casually say “By the way, I am just getting on a plane, I’ll be back in ten days”, you will get into trouble on your return.

In a similar way, the words we say are changed massively by the way we say them. Even a simple thing like ‘thank you’, which should be the sort of thing you do say, can be said in a certain way that will change how it is meant. Is it a sincere thank you, or is it laden with sarcasm? Or another example – sorry. The times when a child is forced to say sorry for some action ‘say it like you mean it’. The way we do things does have a difference, just like the Funboy Three and Bananarama said “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it”

At Chennai Challenge we not only try to do good things, but to do them in the right way. To illustrate this I have three examples. Firstly we are accountable in what we do. We are required to report to the Charity Commission, and have recently published the report for 2011-2012. This is us doing things in the right way. Secondly we try to be a bit different to other organisations that do similar things to us. When we have people on a team it lasts for far more than just the time in India. We have training that helps people to think about how to raise money, what to take with them and what to expect in India in terms of food and culture. We believe that the way we do things make sure we have a team of people fully prepared for the challenges they face in India. The final way we try to do things is to work with local organisations in Chennai. This means that the work we do and support isn’t a temporary fix, just happening whilst we are there, but long term help. The work of YMCA and Oasis continues even with us in the UK, but can be bolstered and enhanced by our input.

I think for Chennai Challenge it is not a case of “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it”, but more “It’s not JUST what we do, it’s the way that we do it”

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