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When employees arrive for their first day at Apple they are greeted with this inspirational note: "There’s work and there’s your life’s work. The kind of work that has your fingerprints all over it. The kind of work that you’d never compromise on. That you’d sacrifice a weekend for. You can do that kind of work at Apple. People don’t come here to play it safe. They come here to swim in the deep end. They want their work to add up to something. Something big. Something that couldn’t happen anywhere else. Welcome to Apple."

Have you ever watched a “tag team” event, like a relay race, where teammates take turns engaging in whatever activity is required? Here is another example. As a kid, I remember watching wrestling matches on TV, where two wrestlers would compete against two others. When one member of the “tag team” needed a break, or another “tactic” (or wrestling move) needed to be applied, wrestler 1 would run to the corner of the ring, slap hands with wrestler 2 (his teammate) and the match would continue. Don’t ask me what determined the winner in these tag matches – I am too old to recall that - but it was fun to watch teamwork in action.

If you've been involved in development work for long, you've probably had a situation where you made the “ask” of a donor before he/she was ready. How did you know they weren’t ready? A couple ways, probably – either he/she was offended, said “no” or gave a significantly smaller amount than you hoped for. No worries, we have all been there a time or two. Maybe a better question is - how would you know (for next time)? The relationship between a donor, the development staff person or volunteer assigned to him/her and the institution in need of support is a tricky one. There are guidelines of when a donor is ultimately “ready” for solicitation, but no hard, fast rules. Every donor, every organization and every campaign is different.

I recently read an article written by Jim Mathis and produced by the Christian Businessmen’s Committee. In his introduction, he stated:  When I was about 12 years old, my father took me to a hardware store to buy my first set of real tools. Among the first items I acquired were needle-nose pliers. They came with a lecture from my dad that he had already given me many times about the importance of having good tools, knowing how to use them, and taking care of them. He always concluded with the admonition, “Take care of your tools and they will take care of you."

I have never once caused it to rain in my nearly 34 years in our Stewardship Practice here at TTG. I know who sends the rain and it is not me. However I do know what to do with the rain once God sends it. I have been in the irrigation business all these years. I also admit to an occasional attempt at “Cloud Seeding - yes, trying to help God out a bit! Nice segue to my BHAQ-(Big Harry Audacious Question) “BHAQ QUESTION”-DOES GOD REALLY NEED US TO ACCOMPLISH HIS TASKS HERE ON EARTH?

Frustrated with not hitting your stride in your advancement work? Wondering how to kick-start an action plan that leads to increased productivity and results? Asking some candid questions may be very helpful. But rather than ask the standard assessment tool questions that often appear on evaluations, consider asking some more penetrating questions. While working with a client recently, I was asked to do a performance evaluation of each person on the advancement team. I pulled up each person’s position description and asked them to answer five key questions. Their responses were submitted in brief written form prior to our meeting and they became a great springboard for discussion and action plans.

Jesus gave Peter and John some unusual instructions to make preparation for what would be the Last Supper. “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.” “They left and found things just as Jesus had told them” (Luke 22:10-13a).

I'm sure you've heard this expression, "There are no small dreams"… maybe in a leadership class… or maybe from a motivational speaker … or perhaps in a good article on business best practices? One of the more famous quotes in this vein reads, “Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.” That was penned by German poet, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe. I’m not sure exactly when he said it, but I believe it was in the late 1700’s.