No One is Under the Bus

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Alex Comfort, CFRE

Over my 47 year working career, I have found most job situations pretty similar – even the US Air Force.  You get along with some people and pray hard for other people to retire or leave.  Let’s be honest.  But there are basic rules which help us all get through the day with our colleagues.

One came into play with me a couple of weeks ago.  As may be plain to you, I have my own business as a consultant but I also have entered into a working relationship with a wonderful firm based in Johnson City, Tennessee.  This firm is headed by Ginger Keller-Ferguson, a development savant who has an MBA and a keen sense of how to do things.  

But as many of my colleagues over the years have found, details are not my strength.  I have functioned through the years only with wonderful, patient, eagle-eyed staff members who spot my lack of attention to detail and get me, and the details, corrected.

Ginger and I currently have a joint project and she graciously asked me my time frame for a meeting that had to be scheduled.  I consulted my calendar and gave her a date.  She got the other side to agree to the date I gave her.  Then, to my horror I realized I had already given away that date and had to ask for a re-scheduling of the date I had given her!

Without any snarky comment to me which I certainly deserved the email went out and said simply, “our previous date has to be changed and here is a possible new date”.  How gracious!  My point, of course, is that it would have been easy to have thrown me under the bus, but Ginger resisted.  And I am grateful.

I often remind development professionals that NO ONE OWES US ANYTHING.  We need to be gracious, to roll with the punches our donor prospects and staff colleagues throw at us, and to demonstrate the graciousness and the high road we need ourselves in our lives.

Recently in a class I was teaching someone asked me my philosophy on dealing with major donors.  I don’t think I was all that eloquent in my response, but I said something like, “We need to remember we are all just people trying our best to do some good in the world.”  And we need to appreciate each other.

So, thanks, Ginger.  I’ll do better on details soon, I promise.  After 47 years I’ll do better.  Right!

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