My curiosity got the best of me in a recent live discussion session with participants in our one of our Veritus Group Academy courses. Each participant was sharing exciting stories about the positive impact our Permission-Based Asking communication model was having on their conversations with donors. So I asked them, “What do you think gets in the way of fundraisers taking this course?” They had a number of interesting answers we will get into another time, but here’s the one that stood out: “It’s just easier to do it how I’ve always done it.”

This led me down a path to find out more about why we resist learning something new. Guess what? There are a lot of powerful reasons why we want to just do it like we have always done it. And there are also some very important reasons why learning new skills are so valuable for our careers and personal happiness.

So, let’s start with some of the benefits:

  1. You’ll be happier at your job. Research conducted by LinkedIn found that if you want to be happier at your job, be a learner. People who were identified as “heavy learners” (aka those who spent five or more hours a week reading, taking classes and watching online courses) reported being 21% happier, 47% less likely to be stressed, 39% more productive, and 21% more confident than people identified as “light learners” who spent only an hour or less learning.
  2. Learners perform better in their jobs. Making the time to learn causes people to be more satisfied in their careers and just happier in general. This quote really brings this idea together: “Learning itself is a skill, and developing it is a critical driver of long-term career success. People who have mastered the mindsets and skills of effective learning can grow faster than their peers and gain more of the benefits from all the learning opportunities that come their way.”

Despite these benefits, there are some common obstacles that cause us to resist learning something new.

  1. Learning new things is uncomfortable! For some of you, you may have grown up with a lot of pressure to excel that didn’t leave room for learning and growth. Being a novice at something means that things may be a little clumsy as you figure it out. If this is not a culture you’re familiar with, learning can be an uncomfortable experience.
  2. It can be confusing if new content contradicts what you’ve learned in the past. It’s easy to shut down or feel frustrated if something you’re learning is inconsistent with what you’ve learned in the past. No one wants to feel like they’ve been “doing it wrong,” but the important thing to remember is that information, technique, and strategy is always developing as new information and insight becomes available. A contradiction is not an indication that you’ve been doing things incorrectly but is really a sign that there’s new information for you to process and consider.
  3. It doesn’t feel “productive,” especially when you have a lot of things demanding your time. We live in a culture that doesn’t prioritize learning and knowledge. Many non-profits don’t prioritize gaining knowledge as a value, which makes it really hard to make time for it. But the benefits are significant so even if your organization can’t support your efforts, we highly recommend finding small ways to keep learning.
  4. You may feel vulnerable and concerned that if you say you need to learn something new, that it’ll seem like you don’t know what you’re doing. Asking to learn something new, like a new asking model, can make you feel insecure because, after all, asking is a major part of a fundraiser’s job. We recommend approaching this kind of conversation from a place of sharing the research of learning and how this will help you become even better at your craft. This actually shows you’re a serious professional who wants to continue growing and improving, which is a real value to your organization.

In my discussion with our course participants, they shared how real the feelings of awkwardness and self-doubt could be. But by stepping into something new and learning a new approach to donor conversations, some really incredible things began to happen. A number of them even shared that they received actual thank you notes and comments from donors saying this was the most meaningful conversation they had ever had with a fundraiser!

There was relief as they learned that they were not alone in their fears and frustrations. There was pride and excitement as they sharpened and honed their communication skills. And this all led to more meaningful conversations with and more significant asks with donors. Pushing through the fear led to more meaning in their work.

This is the power of moving into something that might be uncomfortable or challenging and working hard to learn something new. As these participants experienced, the impact of learning a new skill can be extraordinary. If you’re feeling stuck, bored, overwhelmed, and stressed right now stepping into some new learning, whatever that might be for you, may sound counter intuitive but might just be an answer to bringing more energy, joy and fulfillment into your life.


If you’d like to join us to learn something new in 2022, check out our Veritus Group Academy course schedule to find the training that works best for you!