I believe it is one thing, and one thing only, that causes success in life. Communication.

In addition to the actions we take each day to raise funds, recruit board members, make thank you calls to donors, and so on, the words we choose when we speak have a significant effect on the outcome.

Most of us have heard this definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

When I really, truly heard that statement it was like a thunderbolt. It dawned on me: I actually have to think and speak differently in order to get different results.

Here’s a tip: Old patterns are powerful. They have strong grip on you. In order to shift outcomes, identify bite-sized opportunities for shifting behavior. You make communication choices all day long. And I find most people’s choices are less than inspiring. Here’s an example:

Utilitarian:We need your help. Please give us money.
Inspiring: It took just $80 to help Tony, age 19, get his GED this year because of supporters like you. Our goal is to serve 100 more Tonys this year from our waiting list of 500. Will you invest in a few more Tonys this year?

To change your story and your outcomes you have to change the words you use. That’s how better results show up. There are two words, I believe that can be destructive and stop progress.

“Can’t” is a destructive little word

cant20Oct10How many times a day do you say or hear the word “can’t”? Pay attention for a day and see what you find – in yourself and in those around you. You may be surprised at the power this little word is wielding over your life.

When I’m giving training strategy sessions or meeting with a client, I often count how many times I hear the word “can’t” coming from the team. They don’t know why I’m putting those marks on the whiteboard, but when I tell them I’ve captured the number of times they used the word “can’t” they’re usually shocked at the reality right in front of them. Sometimes I hear “can’t” so often I’m unable to keep up with the tally.

I invite you to take a look at how many times you can use words OTHER than “can’t”. Looking at the day or the situation without negatives – allows it to be a pure, unfettered opportunity.

“Try” avoids commitment to success

Yoda20Oct10Quote from Jedi Master Yoda, from StarWars: Do, or do not. There is no try.

“Try” is a cop out. If you want to limit your responsibility & waffle on a commitment use “try”. Here are some examples:

  • I’ll “try” to get that done (But if I don’t finish at least I tried).
  • I’ll “try” to make the deadline (When I miss it you can’t be mad, I tried).
  • I’ll “try” to change my behavior (I may not, but I’ll tell you I’m trying in order to buy time and make myself feel better).

“Try” avoids a commitment to success.

I’ve noticed for some, commitments have become something we keep if they are convenient for us. We’ll try – but do we feel anything close to failure if we don’t deliver on that commitment?

NEWS FLASH: People will pay good money for the secret to getting things done. I’ll give you the secret for free. Want to get things done? Do them! Don’t just try.

I share the Yoda quote often when I speak and recently I shared it at a conference in Wisconsin. The conference host sat in on my session. She runs a statewide organization and is very accomplished and successful.
Deborah sent me a thank you email after the conference and said:

“The most powerful changes are taking place here in our office since we adopted the Do or Do not strategy.” She said, “TRY is outlawed here and we are having so much more fun and accomplishing so much more! It’s an invaluable lesson. Thank you!”

My recommendation? Take these changes on in bite-sized pieces that work for you. You’re not going to feel happy or at peace by trying to adhere to a strict new set of goals or ideals – mine or anyone else’s.

Fun fact: At 211 degrees water is hot. Very hot. But at 212 degrees it boils! And with boiling water comes steam and steam can power a locomotive…big things can happen with a tiny difference. Make a tiny difference today and create big results.


This post was included in Withism’s from Lori: Boldness, Clarity & Wisdom for Fundraising Professionals Making a Difference (Volume 1), now available in paperback, on Kindle, and Nook.