My friend and inspirational entrepreneur Kent Stroman (Institute for Conversational Fundraising) pointed this out to me recently and he’s right. When I recall my greatest career wins, they included:
An urgent problem
Essayist and psychologist Og Mandino said, “Opportunities, many times, are so small that we glimpse them not and yet they are often the seeds of great enterprises.”
How many seeds – how many great ideas - fall on rocky ground? Are choked out by the weeds or burnt in the sun? The ones that are nourished we know very well. The internet. Social media. Cars. Airplanes. Heart transplants. Saxophones. Paper from tree bark. Astounding!
Mandino continues, “Opportunities are also everywhere and so you must always let your hook be hanging. When you least expect it, a great fish will swim by.”
I have caught a few fish in my fifteen years on the job.
A 35 percent increase in annual fund revenue. The launch of a life-changing leadership development program. Publishing my first novel. Teaching my ADHD-daughter to value her gifts despite the world’s feedback. Speaking in front of an auditorium full of at-risk youth about overcoming brokenness.
Big fish. But they did not leap on the hook. I had to catch them. When Mandino says always let your hook be hanging, maybe he meant keep your eyes open for the urgent problems. Constantly scan the waters. Put yourself in new ponds. Seek out challenges. Then, when the fish swims by, reel it in.
The work that follows is never easy. As professionals and people of potential impact in this world, we have a difficult job in front of us. Inspiration becomes our motivation. Look for the reason behind the effort. Why should we catch that fish? What difference does it make?
Then, study and strategize. Be a life-long learner. Explore the options. Seek solutions from experts because none of us are experts in everything. Find the little pieces of gold in the stream, sift them out, and put them in a plan.
Action becomes the easy part because the hard work is done.
There is no guarantee that every fish we catch, every case we make, or every strategy we write will lead to the next big idea – but some will. The ones that take root and grow have the potential to change lives, communities, and even the world. For that, it is worth the effort.
Pamela Witter is the founder and owner of Seed Planters, an author, professional fundraiser and speaker. Learn more at www.BeASeedPlanter.com. Find her on Facebook at Seed Planters.