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Jan 5, 2015

The Key to Growth

Sumarie’s blog reminded me of the most important and painful lesson I learned as an undergrad.

I was in my senior year of Business College, and the capstone class was Policies. Basically, it was applying everything we had learned into real world business case studies. And in the very first lecture Professor Palmer decided to randomly choose me to share my thoughts on the first case study.

This was an introverted plan-aholics worst nightmare. I hated speaking in class. My palms sweated, my heart raced and I was petrified. To compensate, I had become a compulsive planner. Everything I did, even the most inconsequential social interaction, was planned and rehearsed. But I didn’t know Professor Palmer was going to pick someone in the first lecture. I hadn’t prepared. And on top of that, since I was the first one, I had no model to copy.

“Mr. Jacobs, please stand and tell us what action Holiday Inn should implement based on circumstance pertaining to case study one.”

I rose slowly, and started some BS intro as I shook where I stood. As I started my second sentence, Professor Palmer cut me off. “Mr. Jacobs is drowning. Can anyone throw him a line?”

I quickly sat down. A litany of negative self-talk raced through my mind:

‘He hates me.’
‘I just made a fool of myself in front of everyone.’
‘I’m going to fail this class.’

I don’t remember any other discussion about case study one. But as the class ended, Professor Palmer requested that I stay to talk with him.

This was it, I thought. Professor Palmer was going to chew me out and then kick me out of his class for being a clueless moron.

But he didn’t. Rather, he gentle told me this: “Bill, my job as a teacher is to create an environment for growth. It was clear today you were very uncomfortable when I called on you. But growth only happens when we get out of our comfort zone.”

Comfort ZoneProfessor Palmer was right and that lecture changed me. And it was scary and painful. But instead of fearing every new thing, I’ve learned to be comfortable outside my comfort zone.

And it’s true for your fundraising program too. It’s not going to grow until you are willing to try things outside your comfort zone.

So here’s to 2015. Let’s work together beyond our comfort zones and GROW your fundraising program.

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