As fundraising professionals, it might seem outrageous to think that a “pause of mindfulness” is plausible at this very moment when charitable giving is uncertain and the question of recession looms. But I think this season of the Coronavirus has the power to make us better leaders in our work and sphere of influence. Self-confidence, creativity, collaboration, and empowerment can ultimately lead to more significant impact, stronger teams, new clarity, and courage in our fundraising.
One of my favorite movies of 2019 was “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” It tells the story of Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) and a cynical reporter, Lloyd, who morphed from Fred’s foe to friend by the end of the movie.
When I left the theater, I was struck by how peaceful and centered I felt. I had greater clarity of purpose, a desire to expand my capacity for empathy, and a thirst for slowing down my hectic pace of life. This was medicine to my soul as I neared burnout in my Chief Advancement role at a large global nonprofit.
Mr. Rogers purposefully paced life differently than the average person living in America. He included intentional pauses, moments of reflection, remembrance, and mindfulness into his everyday patterns.
If you saw this movie, you might remember the poignant scene in the restaurant where Fred and Lloyd were involved in an exchange of unsettling vulnerability. Fred invited Lloyd into a minute of silent remembrance.
With this scene at the forefront of my consciousness during the Coronavirus pandemic and the mandated “pause” that many working Americans and families are experiencing, I can’t help but believe this pause may usher in a new or renewed experience of reflection and mindfulness. Mindfulness — paying attention to the present moment in an accepting, nonjudgmental way — is a simple practice available to all and is gaining popularity.
Creating a pause between our thoughts and actions allows us to take greater control of our emotions in stressful moments. This mindful pause redirects brain waves to ensure better focus on the presenting task, job, or challenge. Chaos feels under control. Stress levels lessen. Problems are in perspective.
If you are still working at your office, bringing mindfulness to the workplace can take many simple forms:
- walking a short distance in silence
- going solo at lunch break
- mindfully pausing during meetings
- arriving at the office before others to start your day
- keeping a journal
- scheduling creativity breaks
If you are working remotely during the next several weeks, think about taking your available commute time and use it to reflect, journal, identify places of fear, read wisdom quotes, or pick up the phone to chat with a mentor. I did this very thing myself. The important thing is to create a plan that works for you and invite others on your fundraising team to do the same.