What Do You Need to Throw Away?

Okay. Let’s just get this out there at the start. I am a sucker for those “Get Organized” books. Reading David Allen’s Getting Things Done was close to a religious experience several years ago. I gave a copy to all of my co-workers. They did not appreciate it nearly as much as I did. The book was the gag gift at the Christmas Party months later, with my face on the cover. Very funny.

The latest book on my infatuation list. Throw Out Fifty Things by Gail Blanke. The title tells it all. Your life and mind are too cluttered. Throw it out.

I have just started and it is intoxicating. The bathroom closet, that drawer in the kitchen—it actually shuts now without being forced. The latest was the nick knack clock from the bookstore that has been on my desk for maybe fifteen years. A cheap gift. But get this. It has not worked for five years. I have not replaced the batteries because I don’t use it. The computer or cell phone are my watch now. It feels good to have it gone.

There is more to follow, including that dehumidifier behind the door. A dehumidifier? Yes, I needed it when my damp office on the bottom floor was tough on my allergies. How long ago was my office on the bottom floor? A decade!

Gail lists ten attitudes or beliefs that we would do well to throw away as well. And this is perhaps the most important part of the book. The items on her list include:

  • The need to always be right

  • The fear that I am inadequate and not good enough

  • The need to have everybody like you

  • Waiting for the right moment

  • The regrets and mistakes of the past

  • Thinking the worst

  • The type person you think you are or aren’t

The last one particularly comes into play at fundraising time. In our work with churches and non-profits, we meet people all the time who have little fundraising experience. They are anxious. Unsure. And one thing gets in the way.

They don’t think of themselves as fundraisers.

They, you, need to throw that thought right out the window. Anyone with passion for a cause can raise money. You hire an expert to guide and direct. Your consultant teaches you all the things you need to know. (And a key lesson in fundraising—it is more about relationship and less about technique.)

But the consultant cannot change your thinking. You have to do that yourself. You have to think of yourself as one who can raise funds.

I see professionals with no experience in fundraising grow by leaps and bounds all the time. They surprise even themselves.

They come to see themselves in a new way.

What do you need to throw out?