The Power of Course Corrections

Fundraising, like life, is typically more a marathon than a sprint. Building relationships and achieving organizational goals happens over time. Trouble is, the more we get bogged down in the daily slog, the more we can lose sight of the eventual goal. We need to stop from time to time, figure out where we are (as opposed to where we think we are) and make sure we’re on course. If we’re not, it may be time for a course correction.

(Navy Flashback Alert!) Let’s say you’re on a ship leaving San Diego and heading for Pearl Harbor. At 20 knots that trip should take a bit less than five days. So you leave San Diego, set your course toward Pearl Harbor, and then you sail happily across the eastern Pacific expecting that you’ll wake up on the morning of Day Five with Diamond Head on the horizon. Right? Wrong! It doesn’t work that way, as anyone knows who has spent any time on the open sea.

What will happen instead is that you’ll wake up on Day Five with Diamond Head nowhere to be seen. That’s because along every mile of your cruise the ship is being driven off course. Sometimes the causes are external: wind, waves, currents. Other causes can be internal: your compass is bad, your rudder is misaligned, your helmsman isn’t paying attention. If you just set your course and forget it you’ll probably discover on Day Five that you’re 100 miles or more off course, because the forces that drive you from your predetermined track are cumulative — that is, the longer you wait the greater the correction you’ll eventually have to make. The obvious answer, and what Navy ships do, is to take constant fixes to determine where you actually are. Then you make continual, minor corrections to stay on course. And on Day Five, voila — there’s Pearl Harbor, right where it belongs.

In my business (and also in my relationships — this definitely applies to marriage!), I may think I’m on track, but in fact I’m constantly being driven off course by outside and inside influences and distractions. I’d better get into the habit of taking continual fixes — a regular reality check! — and then making those small adjustments I need to make to keep myself on track toward my destination. The longer I wait and assume everything is fine, the bigger and harder the course correction I’ll have to make. It might even be too hard, or too late.

So…I can think of several course corrections I need to make. How about you?

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