Are You a Lone Wolf?
History books and our current culture like to tell stories of success of the “self-made man.” We all grow up thinking that if we become the lone wolf and just do something on our own it is more noble than having someone help you. I think that is a pile of garbage. Yet, the pressure of “going it alone” or not to seek help is engrained in us as the ultimate way of working and living.
It’s engrained in individuals, institutions and the “American Way of Life.”
Yet, I don’t know one person or institution that made it on their own without the help of someone or something to provide counsel or perspective that led to success.
As a major gift officer (MGO), you are either pressured or you are wired personally not to seek counsel or help because “you just need to figure it out on your own.”
As for organizations, Richard and I often encounter the protests of the executive director or development director when we’re trying to convince them they need Veritus’ help with their major gift program, when they say, “Hey, we know what to do. We can do this on our own.”
Of course, our answer is always, “Well, then why aren’t you doing it?”
If you feel that you don’t need help with your work, that you don’t think you can learn anything new from someone or that you don’t need someone to hold you accountable and keep you focused, think about this that my colleague Stephen Butler in our U.K. office said to me the other day:
“Why does the No. 1 tennis player in the world have a personal coach? I mean, she knows exactly what to do. She has all the skills and knowledge on how to play the game. But, she has a coach because she needs another perspective, someone to hold her accountable, to keep her focused and ultimately to make her a better player…even when she is already the best in the world.”
So, I want to ask you. Do you feel you have to do your job as a MGO without any help because for some reason that makes you weak? Richard and I have actually heard this from MGOs all over the country.
The great MGOs that Richard, I and our team at Veritus encounter all have someone that they seek help from. Whether that is asking their manager to meet with them consistently or to seek out a mentor or to have colleagues who provide accountability and advice… they have deemed if vitally important to their success.
No one succeeds on their own. Open yourself up to the guidance of others. Get a different perspective on your work. Seek counsel on a difficult donor or situation that you are unsure of. Ask someone to hold you accountable and to keep you focused.
Remember, even the “best” in the world seek help from others. You should, too.
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.