You’ve heard the saying, “Begin with the end in mind.” (Habit 2 of Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”).
With all respect to Covey. . . I think this isn’t completely right. Here’s why:
What is it that we plan that ever ends? I mean really ends? Stopped. Completed. No more. Finished. Finito.
- A successful ask simply leads to stewardship, cultivation, and, hopefully, another more successful ask.
- The conclusion of a special event simply evolves into post event evaluation and cultivation of prospects – and planning for the next event.
- Campaigns? Ending? Uh, yeah, you get the drift.
Even in our larger lives, there isn’t much that we plan for that truly, really ends. Graduation from college may mark the transition into adulthood and the world of work, but, if our professors did right by us, we have adopted an attitude of continuous learning and will be “students” for the remainder of our lives. Rearing children never really ends. And for many, death itself is simply a transition to another “life,” not an ending.
If we really think about it, most nothing “ends,” but everything does evolve, everything changes.
So, why not begin with the journey in mind?
How might you engage differently with donors if, instead of trying to get them to bend to the “end” you have in mind, you start by valuing the journey with them? The journey in which everyone creates, molds, massages, compromises, enhances, adjusts, mentors, listens, teaches, learns, and, builds a stronger, more effectively institution in the service to the greater good?
When we value the journey first – when we cherish the journey as the true “end” – we just might find that we will far exceed any goals we could set for ourselves or our institutions.