Our first Women Wednesdays post comes from Marcy Heim, known as The Artful Asker. If you haven’t had a chance to hear Marcy speak, add it to your continuing education calendar! She’s great at making fundraisers think about what they can do to advance philanthropy, and she’s known to break into song while doing it!
Here’s Marcy’s post: “Pear Tree Planning”:
Here’s a lesson from my pear tree. The fruit varies year to year, but this year, as early as the blossoms in May, we knew this would be a BIG year.
Thousands, I mean thousands of baby pears filled the tree. At one point a 5-inch-thick limb broke off from the sheer weight of all the pears. And even as they were still developing – they had great flavor. This would yield quite a harvest!
And so went the summer – talking about the pears coming, hearing about canning and freezing, recipes and smoothie combinations. And, while I was determined I would not waste this abundant opportunity….. I did. Most of the pears were bagged up and hauled to the dump.
I saw the opportunity. I talked about the opportunity. I even took a few steps in the right direction gathering information and buying freezer bags. And, yes, (victim thinking here) it was also our daughter’s wedding just as they really ripened. And, yes, I had pear smoothies, pears for breakfast, lunch and dinner for weeks and accosted everyone I saw with a bucket of pears for over a month, but I didn’t follow through on the opportunity I saw. Now these steps will be “good enough” by default.
And so it goes in our honorable and noble profession. We see milestones coming, events that offer more personal connections, a congratulations that could be shared or another program in town or at our organization that will bring in a plethora of folks we might touch. If only. If only we had taken action in time.
Sometimes my clients complain they are not given enough lead time to properly prepare for an opportunity. Ok, “sometimes” this is true. More often, and let’s be honest here, it looks far off and we let more urgent (generally not more important) tasks eat up the time between making something out of an opportunity, letting it slip by…or doing a schlocky job of it.
There is a place for “good enough” in our lives for you who share my perfectionist tendencies.
But here’s the deal. Life presents us opportunities. It is always our choice what we make of them. Our success and satisfaction is measured this way.
- See the opportunity
- Intend what could do and they decide what we will do
- Plan the action – laying out what by when
- Take the action!
- Celebrate the results
Simple, right? WRONG. But it is worth seeing your patterns and making small changes. Here are 5 things you can do to make better use of your “opportunities.”
- Plan ahead for what you KNOW is coming – personally and professionally. You know your kids birthdays, holidays, etc. – why do they “sneak up” on you? You know your event date – why are you tying ribbons on table favors at midnight the night before? You know a big gathering in town will be a chance to network with several prospective givers – why do you let other work deadlines creep into the space until you feel like you really can’t go? Stop and think about the opportunity. Reflect. How do you want to use this opportunity?
- Make a Decision on your “good enough” action. You can’t do everything. In fact, sometimes we go over the top and the action is really “too much” for the situation. “Simple, yet artful.” (“I can buy cookies, not make them, and it will be ok for donor Joe’s visit to our organization.”) What is at least some action we can accomplish that will help us take advantage of this opportunity? Then embrace that this plan is “good enough” and set up the time to take the step.
- Determine what the “Best Action” is. If you were really going to maximize this opportunity, what would that look like? (I’d have a freezer full of pears.)
- Be open to the last-minute. “If it weren’t for the last-minute, nothing would get done. “ While not a quote to live by, certainly it brings in the creative energy we get as a deadline approaches. Use it in a balanced way.
- Celebrate. Learn. Plan and plan again. So that wasn’t quite what you wanted. Ok, celebrate was DID work. Enjoy the feeling of the little action you took that was a hit! YES! Say, “I create my life and I LOVE my life!”
Some opportunities get away on us. The pears are spoiling and collecting bees. But I DID enjoy many of them, give many of them away and at least learn about what I could have done to make better use of them. For this year, that’s “good enough” and I am grateful for the opportunity to see what next year brings. May you enjoy recognizing opportunities and turning them into “wins” for you, your family and your non-profit mission.
Invest in Joy!
The Artful Asker
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© 2015 Marcy Heim and The Artful Asker LLC.
Marcy Heim, CFRE, PLCC, life and development coach, author and speaker, empowers deans, executive directors, development staff and key volunteers who are transforming the world by encouraging philanthropy for their missions. With over 20 years of in-the-trenches experience, she is a trusted authority in the development profession helping organizations and educational institutions uplevel their major gift success – forever. Her workshops have a double track promoting both positive mindset as well as best-practice methods producing both dramatic fundraising results and confident, happy teams. Her monthly Artful Action newsletter inspires leadership and staff to embrace the real power and joy of philanthropy. You can sign up for a complimentary subscription at www.marcyheim.com.