All of us have been through a trying year (or more) since the start of the pandemic. Many have been scrambling to keep businesses afloat, nonprofit organizations have generally been much more ‘non-profit’ than ever. Business and nonprofits alike have been losing money so fast that many have closed, and the related lost jobs have led to individual families struggling to pay for rent, mortgages, groceries, utilities and necessary drugs. What should you do now? Throw up your hands and give up? Not on our watch!
There are many things you can do to prepare to ‘snap back’ stronger when the economy begins to return to its normal cycle. What are they?
First things first:
Take care of yourself—it may seem obvious, but you are what you have to offer, whether you are in direct sales, or looking to market your own business, or whether you are simply looking for a more fulfilling job. Start with the basics. One of my favorite mentors was Zig Ziglar who talked about ‘sharpening the saw,’ especially when you have extra time on your hands.
- Fuel your body well. We have all heard jokes about the ‘quarantine fifteen’ circulating around… but seriously! Over/under-eating is a totally natural stress response. It is so easy to get caught up in the stressors the pandemic has ‘dumped in our laps’ that we forget to be conscious of how we fuel our bodies. While stressed, we tend to put that issue last on the list. One of the best ways to stay healthy is to eat well and the only way to do that is to be mindful of what we are eating/drinking.
- Get enough sleep—not too much because, as it says in Proverbs 6:10-11: a little sleep a little folding of the hands and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man. Sleep helps our bodies ‘take out the trash,’ and clean up our organs at the cellular level.
- Start an exercise routine. If you already do regular exercise, keep it up and perhaps change it up to keep it interesting. Doing this regularly has a cumulative effect that will make you stronger physically and uplift you mentally and spiritually. Let’s hear it for those endorphins!
- Read something that uplifts you… something that gets you into a state of peace and gratitude. Like physical exercise, this is cumulative. Nobody goes to the gym all day and comes out looking muscular, just like you can’t go to the library all day for a few days in a row and expect to become a genius. Yet, if you exercise your mind and your body every day, you will see (and feel) dramatic improvement in your capacity to work and to enjoy life.
- Meditate, pray and become mindful of the world around you and the many miracles that abound around us all each day. There are tools to help you meditate if you are not comfortable learning to meditate. There are phone apps like Mindvalley, Calm, and Holosync that enable you to get into a meditative state much more quickly and easily. Pray, or as the late Wayne Dyer taught me, “connect with your source.” For Dyer and for me, that is Jesus Christ, but for you it might be Buddha, Muhammed or the universal energy you feel looking at a beautiful sunrise as you breathe deeply walking on the beach. Find your higher power, relate to them regularly, and learn to listen for their guidance as you ‘recharge your batteries.’ Mindfulness is the best investment you can make in yourself—as you come to better understand who you are, why you are here and what it will matter when you are gone.
- Have some fun. Finish that creative project, work up a sweat, start that show that’s been on your list forever, whatever it is that brings you joy. It is vital that you get connected to the things that rejuvenate you and build your energy. Recreation is so vital. All work and no play will make Jack a dull boy and eventually an ill boy!
Find a Way to Connect that Works for You!
Take care of your relationships – make space for friends and family in your life! Reach out to them on the telephone or through Zoom, Skype or Facetime. You will often learn something, make a connection (although it may not be as personal as when you speak with them face to face) or hear things that inspire you. Sometimes, just hearing how others are coping with the pandemic (or not) and sharing your own views can be meaningful.
Apply this to your professional relationships too. Building a lasting friendship is relational—not transactional. I always remind new clients that development and stewardship should not really be called ‘fundraising’ – that is a bit of a misnomer. The more effort you make to build the bonds between you and the other party, to sink deep and loving roots, the better and more fruitful will be the relationship—and that takes work. That takes handwritten notes. It takes listening to them carefully. You must figure out a way to connect with people in a manner that serves them, rather than you. Sometimes the best gift you can give someone, especially someone who is in emotional pain, is to truly listen to them empathetically. To really hear them and ‘feel them’ is beyond anything else you could give them.
Shift Gears as Pandemic Winds Down
- Nothing lasts forever, and this pandemic is no different. Vaccines, social distancing, wearing masks and being careful to avoid large groups will help us mitigate the ravages of the Coronavirus. Combine this with immunity developed by people getting the virus and recovering will eventually create the herd immunity we need to gradually get back to normal.
- Make the effort, while you have down time to improve your materials and your presentation of them. Consider having another professional review and evaluate some of your material while they have more time on their hands. It will be less expensive. Make whatever improvements you can right now.
- Begin to reach out to your potential constituents now, and ramp up marketing and communications. If you wait until they come out of hibernation and become active again, they may become engaged with something or someone else. Now is the time to solidify the relationships and to show them why and how you can help them re-energize their organization or make the most significant difference in their work when they do get moving.
- Be ready when the opportunity presents. Whether you sell a product, or a service, do not wait until you have a big demand to put the resource into place, get your supply lines built or at least mapped out before you have a need to begin supplying your clients, customers or constituents. The time to build a roof is before it rains, and the time to build a business is just prior to creating the demand that you want to address.
- Remember, as bad as it has been, it is soon to get better. The more prepared you are to handle the workload as it appears, the more fortunate you will be in securing lots of opportunity.
Another of my great (my favorite) teachers, Jim Rohn used to have a teaching fable based upon the seasons of life. And I paraphrase: “There will come a time for planting and a time for harvest and you need to be prepared to use the time to your advantage by being industrious and anticipating the coming seasons and preparing for them. One of his great lessons was this: “The winds of disappointment and desperation will howl through everyone’s front door at some point in time. What will you have done to gird yourself against these powerful winds?”
My friends, springtime is here, both literally and figuratively, with the weather warming and the Covid pandemic dying down over the next few months. Will you be planting an ambitious garden in anticipation of a great summer growing season and an abundant harvest in the fall? You should be. If you need some help in mapping it out and executing the major gifts or capital campaign portions of it, give us a call. If you are just setting out on your development journey or just want to get better at marketing and educating people about what you are doing, we can help you with that too. Just let us know. We will be right here, planting furiously!