Fifth of Six New Year’s Resolutions that will Change Your Life

“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”
— Anthony Robbins

You might be thinking, “This is a rather odd resolution. What’s this all about?” I’d be inclined to agree with you, if I were you. But I’m me, and this makes perfect sense!
Here’s why.
In my experience, one of the major reasons MGOs get stuck in their work with donors is that they fail to ask good questions. And they fail to ask good questions because they aren’t curious enough about their donors, their organization, or the projects they’re raising money for.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a caseload strategy session for my clients and the MGO is stuck on how to move forward. I begin to ask a couple of simple questions, and immediately we’re on our way to coming up with a new strategy or idea that leads to a solution.
I ask myself, “Is this the job for these folks?” But then I realize that these are actually good people who, once unstuck, can implement a great strategy and come to a positive outcome. I think it’s more of a case of learned behavior NOT to be curious, not to continue to ask more questions.
How many times have you heard someone say, “Come on, just tell me the answer so I can get on with it.” I think that’s it in a nutshell. We’re so eager to execute that we don’t step back, pause, ask questions, ask more questions, wait, and then wait some more for the breakthrough.

“Some people fold after making one timid request. They quit too soon. Keep asking until you find the answers. In sales, there are usually four or five “no’s” before you get a “yes.” — Jack Canfield

Whenever I interview someone, one thing that immediately strikes me is whether the person I’m interviewing starts asking me some really good questions. This tells me they’re curious. And I know from experience that if they’re curious, they seek out solutions to complex problems.
We all know major gift fundraising has some very complex problems. When you’re putting together some six- and seven-figure gifts (and for that matter, even a $10,000 gift can sometimes be complex), there are a lot of pieces to put together. The MGOs who ask good questions and show curiosity are the MGOs who are the most creative and most successful. (Tweet it!)

“When you stop learning, stop listening, stop looking and asking questions, always new questions, then it is time to die.” — Lillian Smith

So make 2020 the “year of curiosity.” You’re going to need to literally re-train yourself to keep asking questions.
“Who do they know?”
“What are they involved in?”
“How can I get closer to this person?”
“Why do they give so much more to this organization and not mine?”
Great questions lead to breakthrough answers. Go ahead. Ask away.
Read the whole series, Six New Year’s Resolutions that will Change Your Life:

New Year’s Resolution #1: Resolve to Serve Your Donor, Don’t Sell Them
New Year’s Resolution #2: Resolve to Love Your Work!
New Year’s Resolution #3: Resolve to Set Goals!
New Year’s Resolution #4: Resolve to Make Mistakes
New Year’s Resolution #5: Resolve to be More Curious – Ask More Questions (This post)
New Year’s Resolution #6: Resolve to Seek Joy!

This post was originally published as we began 2012.