Sometimes we get stuck. We look at a problem, maybe we’ve faced it before and maybe it’s a new roadblock, and we just don’t know how to…move…forward. Have you felt this way? Being a creature of habit can actually prevent us from looking at a problem from different perspectives. We don’t see a world of possibilities because we have already narrowed down those possibilities to what we have done before. Try putting on a new pair of glasses.

I recently read a great book called “Innovative Mindset – 5 Behaviors of Accelerating Breakthroughs” by John Sweeney and Elena Imaretska. The authors talk about behaviors we can practice every day to be more innovative and to stay in the mindset of discovery, rather than in the mindset of fear. In fact, being in a mindset of discovery means that mistakes are an opportunity to learn, and change is fuel to move forward.

What does this have to do with fundraising? I believe the work we do is rewarding and impactful – but sometimes it’s just hard. Being innovative and staying in a discovery mindset can give you fresh eyes on an old problem. It can open your mind to exploring new ideas, new tactics, and to solving something we have been avoiding.

If this sounds good, try practicing these behaviors:
1. Listen – Be present and aware. Approach an interaction as if the other person has vital information and it’s your job to uncover that information. Decide to really listen before you begin to listen. You might be surprised at what you uncover.

2. Defer Judgment – Rather than jumping to an immediate conclusion, allow the space for innovation to take place by deferring judgment an taking it all in.

3. Declare – Speak up and be clear about your position. Sometimes it’s hard to move forward when a group of people are dancing around how they really feel.

4. Reframe – Stop and recognize how you are seeing a situation, then try seeing it from a different point of view. Reframe mistakes into learning opportunities. Challenge yourself to see things differently than you do now.

5. Jump-in – Don’t get stuck in the analysis stage. Rather than waiting for every step to be clear, use what you have to move forward and plan to adjust as you go along.

Try to distract your inner negative voice with these skills to generate new insights and be more innovative. I hope that the next time you feel up against a challenge that feels negative you are able to stay in a discovery mindset and approach the situation from the perspective of what can be learned and gained. Happy innovating!