MGO Assessment – A Six Part Series: #4 – Can You Shake Off Negativism?

A major gift officer’s life has a great deal of rejection in it.  There are a lot of “no’s” and turndowns.  On the surface one could argue that this is no life to lead.

But hang on a minute.  This bit about rejection, “no’s” and turndowns could also be simply a state of mind or a place in which the MGO chooses to be.

Think about this for a moment in the context of life in general.

All of life is filled with moments of great joy and as well as moments of great hurt and pain, times of clarity and times of confusion, and days when everything goes right along with days when everything goes wrong.

So we all have this measure of good and bad, tough and easy, happy and sad….we all do.  And if that is the human condition, then why is it that some people, no matter what their circumstance, can always look on the bright side of things?

I think it’s a choice.  It’s choosing to see the glass half full rather than half empty.

We’re spending time in this series providing a way for you, as an MGO, to evaluate yourself in a number of areas.

Right now, the central question is this:  Do you tend to focus on success or failure?  Is your view of your life and your job one of a multitude of opportunities or a stack of problems?  When you are turned down for an appointment or an ask do you go into a funk or do you see it as a path to your eventual success?

The answers to these questions, and many more like them, frame your view of life.

One of the many things I appreciate about my business partner, Jeff Schreifels, is that he can look at a pile of cow manure and call it roses.  Jeff is the eternal optimist. Hardly anything gets him down.  He always sees the bright spot in every dark room. He always believes the best in people, even when they are acting the worst.  He chooses, on a daily basis, to stamp out negativism in all areas of his life.  And that is why he is successful, both personally and in business.

Wouldn’t you rather be around a person who views life this way rather than a Donald Downer who gripes and complains about everything, sees the looming failure in everything, interprets everyone’s behavior in the worst possible light, and never sees the possibility in anything?  I would.

Which brings me to the question, “What kind of person are YOU?”  Stop and take a look.  And be honest.  If you find some little or even big pockets of negativity in your life, why not make a commitment right now to take the following steps:

  1. Name the attitude or belief you have so it gets right up on the table.  I’ve even said it out loud.  One of my tendencies is to assume the worst if I don’t hear back from someone who said he would get back to me.  I fret and worry that something must have gone wrong.  And if I don’t manage it, I will work myself up into a lather.  Here is how I work with this false belief:  “OK, Richard.  You are doing it again.  You are assuming that (name of person) is not getting back to you because you have done something wrong or he is avoiding communicating a negative response.  You have NO basis for this assumption.  Get off of this path!”  And I talk myself down from a mentality that sends me down the wrong track.  You can do this with donors who have not gotten back to you or who you believe are about to communicate a decision you will not like.  You can name the false belief and get yourself back to a place of neutrality and opportunity.
  2. Assume the best will happen, not the worst.  Look at the upside.  Consider the possibility.  Give the benefit of the doubt.  Make a choice to be positive.
  3. If there’s bad news, consider it a path to good news.  I think there is a reason behind everything that happens in life.  If it’s bad news, there is something you need to learn.  If it’s a “no”, there is another angle to search for and consider.  In major gifts, the donor is not rejecting YOU when she doesn’t do what you want her to do.  She is saying “no” to the concept or idea you presented. Find out what was wrong with the idea – then search for another idea that matches her interests or timing.  Don’t just shut down and walk away defeated.  Remember, a “no” is simply a path to “yes”.  We covered this point in this blog several months ago.  It would be good to read it again so you remember this.

I think these three very simple, yet profound, steps can help you stamp out negativism in your life.  And the more you get rid of that poison, the healthier you will feel and the more successful you will be.

One final thing:  If you consistently practice this little ritual every single day, then every time a negative thought comes up you will start to get into the habit of viewing life and its events from a place of light rather than darkness.  And everyone knows you can see better in the light…



About Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry

Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry have over 55 years of experience fundraising for non-profits. Richard Perry was co-owner of Domain Group until 2005. Jeff Schreifels was a Senior Strategist for Domain Group for 12 years. They came together a few years ago to start Veritus Group, a full-service major gift fundraising agency. Veritus Group has a unique, data-driven approach unlike any agency focused on major gifts. Jeff and Richard are passionate about their work, passionate about life and hopes this blog will provide you with insights and tangible benefits for you and your work. Thank you for reading!
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