The thing that gets people over the line isn’t how persuasive your argument is. It’s certainly not because they see a big need in the world.
The thing that gets them over the line is passion. Ultimately their passion, but before that happens they need to see your passion. They need to glimpse something raw and unbridled and real. A deep belief in what is possible. Conviction.
In order for them to see that, they need to see you first, to understand who you are. They need to be able to relate to your passion and have it mean something to them. They need to appreciate that if you’re all fired up about something then it must be something worth getting fired up about.
The biggest mistake fundraisers typically make is to take themselves out of the story. It’s a natural to try to step aside since what seems to be on offer is the story, or, worse, the need, and not the person telling the story.
Need is overwhelming and paralyzing to most people. Need seems insurmountable. We all are looking for real, grounded, plausible passion, possibility, potential and hope. People begin to see that by seeing what you see, feeling what you feel.
If they don’t glimpse that in you, how are they ever going to feel it themselves?
A few months ago, I had arthroscopic surgery on my knee. This was my first surgery since a 1993 ski injury, when, younger and without much good sense, I skied off a marked “cliff area” that had no snow, and partially tore my ACL while causing considerable cartilage damage.
Four months ago, after my surgery, I began the normal course of physical therapy, a mostly routine undertaking involving stationary bikes, colored bands, and walking up and down a ‘step’ taken straight from 1980s aerobics classes.
The one bright spot comes at the end of therapy, when Jim, my therapist, puts two electrical stimulation pads on my knee and then wraps my knee in ice for 10 minutes. The stimulation is like a massage inside my knee. Aaaah!
Setting the stimulation level is a mildly medieval process: Jim turns the dial until I cry “uncle,” the level at which I can barely stand the intensity. That’s the most I can take. After a while the stimulation level drops, which I assumed was how the machine works, to let the patient ease out of the therapy session.
But here’s the surprise: Jim told me last week that the stimulation level doesn’t change at all. It’s my body that adjusts. So while Level 46 (whatever that means) is where I start, after 10 minutes I’m comfortable at Level 55 (he let me turn up the dial).
Right now you may feel like you are at your maximum potential – running flat out, working as hard as you can, doing as much as you can do. Don’t underestimate your ability to adjust and grow. Taking on that next big idea (starting a blog, launching a new project, mentoring a student) may put you just past your maximum today, but soon that maximum will be your new routine. You’ll adjust and you will have space for more.
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