In my new book Five Strategies to Increase Annual Fund Revenue I consider a common challenge in our industry – coming up shy of the goal. Falling short of the vision is a universal issue we all face in our lives and careers.
Stalled goals can halt a company’s progress, deprive communities of important services, and prevent individuals from achieving lifelong dreams, but it can be overcome. Here are three potential reasons we don’t make it to the finish line and how to get back on track.
In development, misunderstanding leads to lost results. Fundraisers and donors alike misunderstand the purpose of development work and often become rooted in failure before they begin.
This concept is true in all industries. Misunderstanding limits our capacity for success right out of the gate. If you are struggling with a goal, ask yourself, what might I be misunderstanding? Take a learning journey. Talk to experts in the field or people who have accomplished what it is you are trying to achieve. Begin to root out those things which are limiting your potential. Being an expert in a certain area may have gotten you so far, but perhaps it is time to take a step back and consider this. There is always more to learn!
Fear is a very real deterrent to success and 99 percent of the time people will not admit they are scared. They point to every possible reason for failure rather than acknowledging, “I’m scared and I need help to overcome what is holding me back.”
The positive thing is we all feel fear. I have visited more donors than I can count, making asks big and small, and I still get a twinge of nervousness every time. Ask yourself, “What exactly am I afraid of and how is that stopping me from boldly achieving my dreams?” Often fear of rejection or hearing no stops us from making the case for ourselves and our organizations. I learned something valuable in my field that applies across the board.
The best way to annihilate fear is (1) preparation and practice, (2) openness to feedback and adjustment, and (3) acceptance that some things you have no answers for.
Just because we make a bold and well-practiced case doesn’t mean we can’t adjust it or go searching for answers to questions that confound us. One of my favorite sayings is, “I don’t know but I’ll find out!” The point is, never let the fear of no prevent you from getting to yes. In other words, brace yourself for significant rejection but never stop working toward that one yes that will launch you toward success.
3. Lack of a rigorous process
Whether you are trying to achieve stretch goals for your company or the next level of your career, it takes a structured process. In my industry, fundraising for anything requires staged processes with timelines, goals, strategies, and measurable milestones. More organizations and individuals than you think do not maintain consistent processes when trying to achieve major goals. Many do not track results, analyze what is or isn’t working, and adjust along the way.
In companies, dive into the research and find out what the absolute best processes and proven methods are to achieving a goal like yours. If you are trying to accomplish a major milestone in your career or with your family, what processes might you put in place to add structure to your steps? Even something as simple as asking for feedback from others can improve your resume, your communication skills, and your interpersonal abilities. Debrief with someone you trust after each attempt at achieving your goals. Share what you did and get feedback so you can adjust your process next time.
It is never too late to get it right!
Remember, stalled goals are not an end to anything. They are a milepost on your road to success. Don’t let misunderstanding, fear, or lack of a rigorous process be the reasons you give up on your dreams! Some of the greatest successes the world has known were achieved by failing forward.
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Pamela Witter is a published author, fundraiser, and life-long student of leadership. Browse Pam's blog entries for possible conference session or keynote topics. Pam customizes training opportunities for her clients.
Email me at BeASeedPlanter@outlook.com.