It works to make us feel better in the moment. It works to help us not examine our own possibilities, problems, or opportunities. It works to deflect responsibility.
But it only works for so long.
In time, “us vs. them” thinking crashes under its own weight of fear, insecurities, doubt, self-absorption, non-factual biases, and too many other negative emotions to count.
In time, aspirational planning, hope, encouragement, connectedness, partnership, and, yes, generosity, win the day.
So, send that note of congratulations to your colleague at that other institution who just received a significant gift. They aren’t your competitor and that gift just helped raise the philanthropic bar in your community.
Initiate that meeting with your colleagues at your institution who have not been as involved in philanthropy as they could be (or, maybe, have been resistant to being involved!). They aren’t roadblocks holding you back. They are colleagues who may not understand what you do and how they can benefit from being more involved.
Be generous with a member of your team in sharing the credit for a recent pledge. Keep in mind, you didn’t receive that pledge on your own anyway. It was, perhaps, years of other people pouring into that individual or family that set the stage for this gift.
“Influence up” with your boss(es), by preparing and sharing a plan to engage them more thoughtfully in your advancement work. The best bosses want people to provide solutions and implement more effective plans.
We all live and work in a finite world. A world filled with real restraints, limits, and boundaries.
“Us vs. them” thinking is real and it brings with it negative impacts.
But, it’s also a choice.