Congress Washes Away From the Soul the Dust of Everyday Work

December 6, 2012

Yes indeed, my phrase is coined from Pablo Picasso’s saying “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”.  I love the idea of it.  And I love that Congress does this for me.  I always come away from this conference feeling inspired and renewed.  I meet new people.  I have great conversations.  I pick up ideas.  I learn new things.

I’ve learned to seek out speakers who have the ability to inspire and to take me out of my norm.  Bernard Ross is one who does that for me.  This year I attended his session titled ‘Magic, Mindreading and Money – The Influential Fundraiser’.  He wowed me, again.  Bernard talked about understanding and using influence.  Using volunteers from the audience, he demonstrated techniques garnered from psychology and neuroscience to help fundraisers understand both the power and possibility of influence.  It felt like magic but everything he talked about and did was backed up with technique.

I came away feeling inspired.  I came away feeling that the information, examples and ideas presented in that session are things that all fundraisers need to know.  To that end, I picked up his book, titled The Influential Fundraiser because I want to know more and I want to savour the learning.

One technique that caught my attention is finding ways to move yourself to be able to present the level of passion you need when you need it most.  Ever find yourself feeling just down in the dumps when you’re facing a big presentation or ask?  How you feel will come through in your body language and your tone and, if you’re unhappy or feeling insecure, it can negatively impact on the outcome.  So you’ve got to find a way to get yourself to your ‘best place’ so your passion, commitment and enthusiasm show through.  It’s challenging to motivate or influence others when you can’t do so for yourself.

Anchoring is a technique to help you get there. Think of how you feel when you smell cookies baking.  For most of us this simple aroma likely makes us feel good, causes us to think of home and hopefully it’s associated with safety, comfort and love.  The aroma of the cookies baking is a trigger for good feelings – this could be called a positive anchor.  A negative anchor might be a piece of music you heard at your mother’s funeral – when you hear that music later on, it could trigger feelings of sadness or despair.

Circling back around to the question of passion and making sure you’ve ‘got your passion on’ when you need it, Bernard suggests finding your personal anchor to help you get to that place.

Let me tell you a story about a fellow I worked with many years ago.  Tom was a Senior Fundraiser for a mid-size international NGO.  One day he showed me a picture of a young girl that he kept in the corner of the blotter on his desk (yes that’s how long ago it was, we still used blotters!).  He’d met this girl in one of the countries in which his organization worked.  She lived in abject poverty, yet she had a beautiful smile and her face was filled with joy.  He told me that whenever he got down or felt like he couldn’t do the work anymore, he’d just sit and look at her picture for a short while.  She was his inspiration, his anchor.  When he needed to sell an idea or deal with difficult situations or if he was having a rotten day, he looked to the joyful face peering at him from the corner of his desk and with her in mind, the world would seem a happier place.

This is just a tiny piece in the systematic process of influencing.  Thanks Bernard for making the highly complex somewhat understandable.  I’ll definitely see you next time!

This blog post is part of Good Works’ 2012 AFP Congress Round-Up series.  Don’t miss it as five members of our team share insights gleaned and lessons learned from this annual fundraising event.

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Jose Van Herpt, CFRE

Jose Van Herpt, CFRE

Fundraiser. Artist. Nature lover. Peacemaker. Experience junkie. Traveler. Philanthropist. Book enthusiast. Mom to all.