8 Fundraising Lessons I Learned on a Yoga Mat

I'm a big believer in self care. Why? Mostly because I've realized over the last few years especially, that when my life starts to feel like a hot mess express, the root of it is usually that I'm not taking care of myself the way I should.

I originally got into yoga because it helped me with back and shoulder pain, and hey, I wanted to be able to do the splits ( you should see my Instagram feed. Its like wanderlust everyday!)

And while I still can't do the splits, I've gotten a ton of other valuable ( and lets face it, more practical) lessons from yoga that I directly apply to other parts of my life.

Here are 8 super actionable lessons that can help you show up with more authenticity and compassion for your cause, your mission, and just be more epic in life.

1. Let go of things that no longer serve you

We have a tendency to carry old ideas about ourselves into every situation, without taking the time to question them. Had a bad experience at a party when you were younger? Your brain came up with the story of “ Well, I’m just not good at social situations”, and then found reasons to reinforce this belief over the years.

When you have thoughts that aren’t leading you in the directions of your goals, take a second to ask yourself, is this actually true, or have I just accepted it as true? Go test it out. You might find new experiences, new stories that you can reinforce over and over to get rid of the old one. You can literally change your mind to believe what you want to believe.

2. Remember to breathe

I mean really think about it. Usually when you’re nervous, are you taking deep breaths, or shallow ones that quickly turn into hyperventilating?

It may sound a bit ridiculous at first, but next time you’re starting to get nervous, try closing your eyes and taking a few deep, long breaths. 3 or 4 counts inhaling and exhaling. Bringing more oxygen into your body actually re-energizes you, refocuses your mind, and brings you back to a calmer state where you can more authentically share with others, without the stress.

3. Try to find comfort in being uncomfortable

Fundraising involves a lot of building relationships from scratch, and talking to strangers is uncomfortable to a lot of us. Instead of battling this, try to see it as just a part of the process.

Instead of “Oh God, I have to talk to this person I don’t know. They’re going to think I’m boring, or weird. I’m terrible at talking to people. I don’t know why I said I would do this!” try a less emotionally negative approach. You could even try to think of it like an outsider would and go completely neutral.

Think “Yes, I have to talk to this person that I’ve never met before. The goal is to find out what’s important to them, and to see if that matches up with what I’m doing. We may find common ground, we may not. Either way is okay.

4. Explore where your limitations seem to be, but don’t force it

This goes along with the last point. If you set your goals around the outcome, instead of the process, you might become too attached to the outcome. It’s the difference between “I’m excited to meet this person and see what they’re about” and “They have to like me and say yes or I failed.”

People can feel it when you’re coming from that space, and it’s super uncomfortable to be on the receiving end of it.

They might just be on the fence or it’s not a good fit right now. When someone is too forceful, they might not pick up that it’s coming from a nervous place, but their brains become immediately distrustful. They’re definitely picking up on the weird vibe and are trying to figure out what you’re not telling them.

Make sure that you push yourself enough to make the call or set up that meeting, but don’t hinge everything (especially your self esteem) on the person saying yes right now. You might push too hard and turn the whole thing into a No.

5. Notice where you are, without judgement

One of the things that I definitely struggle with is perfectionism. I want everything to be perfect before anyone else sees it. And I don’t mean, “I just started this so I want to do the best job I possibly can”. I mean falling into the trap of “This person raised 10 times what I did at their event! Mine is a failure in comparison”.

Or it might translate into “Soandso is so great at networking. I’m just standing in the corner like a weirdo.”  I’m not the only one who does this, right?

This my friends, is a terrible way to live. In the years of social media where we get to see only the best edits of what everyone else is doing, it’s easy to look at where we are and feel lacking.

Now, I also think that we need examples to inspire us to push the limits on what we thought was possible, but it has to come from a place of looking for solutions, not looking to be our own personal bully.

In reality, we all come to the table with different experiences, skills, and stories. The trick is to unpack all of the things that you have, and make sure that you’re using them in your favor.

Look to learn from others, not to use them as a reason to beat yourself up.

6. You might lose your balance a bit, and that’s okay

There are a ton of different strategies for every kind of fundraising. Or hell, anything else you’re trying to do!

While this can be super exciting because it means there are tons of ways that you could succeed, it also means that there are a lot of strategies that won’t be the right fit for you or your mission.

The fun (and scary) part is knowing that you will have some flops. This person won’t want to work with you, that event doesn’t sell as many tickets as you hoped, this campaign didn’t get very many responses.

All of that is totally fine, and a part of the process. The key is to be able figure out what worked, what didn’t, why, and tweak things so you get more of the results you want on the next one.

7. It’s okay to laugh. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

As I’m sure many of us did, I used to hate when I did anything that I thought was embarrassing, because I felt like it made me stand out too much. That ranged from tripping and falling, to stumbling over my words, to just talking before I thought and saying something kinda goofy.

As an adult, I’m learning to embrace instead of being embarrassed. I mean, I’m known for saying some really strange stuff when I’m not thinking about it. But you know what, that’s the stuff that makes people laugh, let down their guard, and connect with me more. I’m pretty sure I made every friend I ever had by saying something completely ridiculous.

And that’s okay. Sure, there are limits. You still have to make sure you aren’t inappropriate or offending anybody, but people want to partner with other people. Yes, the mission is super important, but they also want to get a sense of your character. What kind of person do you want to show up in the world as? Someone who never makes a mistake and no one feels connected to, or someone who draws others in with compassion, integrity, and relatability?

8. Namaste

At the end of the day, we want to build with other people. It’s all about taking the compassion, light, Grace, whatever you want to call it, that is in each of us and sharing it.

Fundraising is just one small way that we are able to express ourselves, build to help people and causes that are important to us, and let a little more love into the world.

The light in me acknowledges and honors the light in you as we walk on this path together.

Challenge:

Take even just one of these and apply it to your work for just a week. Write down how you feel in those moments when you have a block Focusing on the lesson might help reshape your thinking around the issue.

Did the thing you were worried about all the sudden seem manageable? Were you able to make a decision more clearly? Or maybe what you thought was a problem, isn't one at all.

I do this on a regular basis to re-balance, and I'm amazed at the results.

Do you use any of these in your daily life? What other lessons have made a change in how you show up in the world?

If you try the challenge, if love to hear about it. Be sure to stop by and let me know how it goes!

Quierra Trammel

Tribe Table, Oakland, CA, United States