Love yourself.

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete”
— Jack Kornfield

I go through periods when I don’t take care of myself, and the work I do suffers. It usually happens when I have so many things going on that I don’t take time to think about what I’m actually doing. So I do a lot, but either I’m not doing it well and/or I’m not doing the stuff I really should be doing.
Something is not right. I’m out of alignment with who I am and where I should be focusing my time and energy – and even though I’m working like crazy, I’m not doing it well. In fact, my work product is pretty lousy.
Ever feel like that?
Over the years of working closely with major gift officers, I find that you (MGOs) are notorious for not taking care of yourself and losing your way in your daily work. It’s amazing to me that in a profession that requires a lot of compassion for others and the world, you don’t have compassion and care for yourself.
In fact, you’re pretty bad at it.
The pressure you feel as a major gift officer is immense. Meeting revenue goals, deadlines, relationship-building with donors and colleagues, dealing with demanding leadership… it’s a heavy burden. Sometimes, under that kind of pressure you find yourself on “autopilot,” and you aren’t able to do your best work.
This happens to me quite often as well. Richard and I talk about this kind of stuff all the time. In fact, it’s what brings me back to reality. He’s pretty blunt: “Jeff, what are you doing? You’re not focusing on the right stuff.”
And he’s right.
Look, I don’t want to lecture you to tell you how badly you’re taking care of yourself. You already know this. So, like Richard does for me, I will say this: “Stop what you’re doing and breathe.”
Now, ponder these questions:

  1. Can you take a little time each day to settle yourself?
  2. Can you find someone to “check in” with, who speaks truth into your life and can identify when you’re out of whack?
  3. Do you think you’re focused on the right things in your work?
  4. What are you doing well?
  5. What are you avoiding that needs to be done?
  6. How can you slow yourself down, step back, and check in with yourself?

What I’ve found over the years is that when I take care of myself, I’m much better with others. When it’s really busy, it’s counter-intuitive to take time to think about these questions, but it really is THE time to do it.
Remember, if you care for yourself and you’re in the right place, you will be so much better with your donors and your colleagues. (Tweet it!) Ultimately, because your job is to build trusting relationships with donors, taking the time to step back and love yourself will allow you to be much more present to them.