This past Friday, I went to see the band Yes for the 30th time. They've been my favorite band since I discovered them in 1979 and I've see them yearly since then. I would describe my recent concert experience as enjoyable, a bit sad and ultimately inspiring. The concert was enjoyable for several reasons. The band covered an intriguing set list featuring the complete play of one of my favorite albums. They then hit several classics and followed with some risk-taking as they played material from one of their lesser-known works. Most importantly, the music was played with absolute skill and technical prowess.
The sad part: With a band that's been around since 1969 health and age become a factor. Yes has always been characterized by an ever-changing line up with new blood often stimulating creativity. Nowadays the changes have come about as a result of health issues and sadly, in one case, the death of a member. The current line-up features no original members. There are two that have been there since the 70's and early 80's. The rest are replacement players.
As I drove home from the show, a line from the movie Rocky 3 kept coming to mind. If you're a Rocky fan, you may remember that Apollo mentors Rocky to fight in his style. Toward the end of the film Apollo says to Rocky "Just remember, you fight great BUT I'm a great fighter". If you've stayed with me till now, you may be wondering what in the world Yes or Rocky has to do with better fundraising and customer engagement which is generally what I blog about. Actually, quite a bit…
What was inspiring to me from the concert was that I had just watched 5 musicians play music flawlessly. BUT something was missing. I realized that something was the inspiration of Chris Squire, the bassist and only member of Yes to appear on every album before passing away last year. Whether you appreciate Chris Squire (or Yes or Rocky for that matter) isn't critical. What is critical to know is that his very presence provided irreplaceable leadership. His very being was the "glue" that pulled the band together and challenged each member to be at their best.
If you're a management consultant you’d simply call what I’m describing as synergy. I'm going to define it as "the 1% difference". It's that just barely discernable difference between everyone on stage playing flawlessly and the music possessing a true heart and soul. It's the difference between Rocky executing Apollo's moves and Apollo embodying those moves in his very being. And yes I realize we’re talking about a rock band and a fictional character!
Of course the above relates to our work as fundraisers and volunteer managers. This inspirational difference is the one between doing all the right things - asking the right questions, using good "fundraising technique" and wholeheartedly embracing your organization’s mission. It’s going beyond the appropriate actions and moving into the realm of true caring and compassion for your volunteers, participants and donors.
Try to imagine what that 1% difference could look like in your life. What would it look like when it comes to being with your family as a spouse, parent or even a sibling? Maybe it’s being truly present in every one of your interactions and appreciating everything that makes them special and meaningful to you. What could it look like in terms of things you do for enjoyment? Perhaps it’s the difference between exercising because “you’re supposed to” and finding real joy in a sport, activity or hobby of your choice (even if it can’t be recorded, monitored, and analyzed on a Garmin device or a fit-bit – imagine that!). Finally, what does that difference look like for your work? Only you can define that but my hunch is that it’s limited only by your imagination and willingness to put yourself out there and be at your absolute best.
I challenge you – and myself – to find that 1% difference in our lives. Keep looking for it – it’s truly worth finding.
Robert Grabel is the President of Nonprofit Now! You can find his posts here and at www.robertgrabel.com
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