Are you playing a finite game or an infinite game? Are you working towards an arbitrary ranking or seeking joy from advancement? If we play the finite game, we work to beat others, however if we play the infinite game, we focus on doing better work. If we choose to be in the game, we also choose which game we play. Very different cultures emerge depending on our focus. The game we play defines our relationships, work, world view, and politics.
Simon Sinek illustrates the power of the game in a remarkable talk. His message, we have a choice and that choice defines us and our work.
(Thank you Patricia for encouraging me to watch Simon’s talk)
Seth Godin encourages social sector organizations to be so great at fulfilling their purpose and mission that people line-up to lend resources and treasure. The social sector is solving problems that are challenging and take time. It is easy to get stuck into form and forget function. What if we concentrate on making our work visible in numerous settings. Take grant requests as an example. The historic approach is to submit a letter in a standard business form layout. It might include a few attached pictures and supporting budget but the body is composed of printed words. I am encountering more grant requests that arrive in newsletter format. Content supported by meaningful and impactful graphics. Pictures, maps, graphs, flow-charts, infographics, and word art are all embedded. Said differently, what if your grant requests looked more like an annual report? What if we used a wider palette from which to better capture the story we were telling? What if we submitted a grant request that made us proud, not just present and accounted for? How might this resonate with those who are deciding on which initiatives to fund?
Walking in Venice, Italy one sees thousands of vessels. Taking pictures of any one of them is a task similar to capturing an individual zebra or wildebeest on the savannah in Africa. Our eye catches the ones that are different. Being unique means people look beyond labels and see why you do not fit. Sometimes the characteristics that you exhibit are exactly what they are looking for.
Not everyone wants to go where you are going. However, those who desire to join your route get more excited when it gets challenging.
If you were excused from any worry about raising money from a prospective donor, what conversation would you strike-up? How would it feel to speak with a person, free from the pressure of securing their financial support for your cause? What questions would you ask? What would you share? How long would you be willing to speak with this individual?
Why not try it? Have a real conversation with another person who supports your cause. Avoid the FAQs and mission statement (unless they ask). See if the interaction is remarkably different or the same.
There is a solution for many problems. Asking for help reveals readily available resources. Spend time on distractions or focus expertise on the work that matters. Your enterprise exists to address challenges that are not easy to decode. Heroic journeys are a quest with uncertain outcomes. The reward is transformation. These are the adventures worthy of extraordinary people.