#67 | What would a tennis pro have to say about professional fundraising?

Rather than relying on the usual suspects for improving her performance, Kenna Barrett has gathered insights from another domain: the world of tennis. Curious and intrigued after our conversation, I ordered two of Tim Gallwey’s books and have begun to incorporate the “inner game” into my thinking about how to develop young fundraising talent.

While the concept of an inner game made perfect sense to me, I was not familiar with Gallwey’s work. I couldn’t agree more with Kenna who has learned that fundraising is far more about understanding what’s going on in her head rather than being an especially charming, extrovert armed with the audacity to ask.

As Kenna points out, fundraising, like many professions, is certainly guilty of overemphasizing the external technique which allows us to overlook and ignore the game that is playing out in our heads. I tend to think this is very characteristic of the messy adolescence that our profession is navigating its way through. Like an unaware teenager, we prefer anything that rationalizes and externalizes our problems.

Gallwey would caution that coaches can be problematic as well if they are insensitive to what’s going on in a players head. For example, by over-teaching and relying on too much verbal instruction, a coach routinely make judgements as to whether an action is good or bad. These judgements interfere with the players ability to quiet themselves and allow their innate learning capabilities to work in their favor.

If you’d like to download my toolbox which includes the four fundraising frameworks, go to www.lewisfundraising.com/toolbox

Jason Lewis