Where, in life, can you ‘win’ and truly be rewarded?
For the past 3 months I have been glued to my computer writing and revising grant applications. Except for my fingers flying over the keyboard, and my mind ablaze with word-smithing chatter, my body sits motionless for hours on end. I go to sleep dreaming about sentences I have written and wake up with a cereal bowl full of alphabet letters giving me the chance to literally eat my words before it starts all over again.
You see, I have never written a grant before. Before now, I lived in the for profit world. The learning curve is steep and it’s a hard process trying to rise to the challenge.
The first grant I wrote took a 100 hours to develop. 3 days before it was due, Marete Wester, Dir of Arts Policy from Americans for The Arts gave it a read and quite frankly tore it apart. God Bless her. Really. Thank God she did.
I had asked a number of people if they would read it and give me feedback but she was the only one who did in earnest. I received the copy back with tons of notes in the margin. Marete focused constructively on what I did not write well.
I ‘listened’ carefully to every word she wrote- letting the lessons sink in. And once I had, I followed every suggestion she made and re-wrote the grant entirely, in just three days, starting over from scratch. This proposal was for a 6 figure request for support. I needed to write an incredibly well polished proposal to have a chance. Period.
It’s been a month since I submitted the proposal. Yesterday I heard from the foundation. They have asked to read our full proposal as well as asked we increase the amount requested to include our research proposal.
Lesson learned: Ask the smartest person in a subject area you know- or wish you knew- for help. While not often, sometimes they just might help you. I live by this rule and I can’t even begin to tell you how many amazing people, over the years, have stepped forward and offered to help me, like Marete Wester.
Look, other than a little gumption, asking is free. And for that matter rejection is too. It’s the receiving help part , however, some regard as the real ‘problem’. Why? Because it will challenge you to be disciplined: to listen, learn from what you hear and not resist, and then do what is required to rise above yourself and improve. Quickly.
Have you ever been bribed? How did it happen? What lessons did you learn?
In 1974,when I was 10, my father offered me $100.00 to lose 10 pounds. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer inflation calculator my dad was offering his 10 year old daughter the equivalent of $456.20 in today’s dollars. Yeah, what 10 year old wouldn’t be motivated by that? And losing that 10 pounds he highly incentivized me to lose was as hard for me then to accomplish as it is for me now.
But I did it and it made a big impression on me to this day. I remember well the day I walked into the bike shop with my Dad and paid cash for a decked out girls brand new Hollywood Schwinn bicycle I was able to buy for myself with my very own stash. This lesson stuck: Conquering hard stuff in life- the stuff that requires the most from us ever- and yet is really good for us – deserves a great reward.
And what if the reward, you ask, never comes? Then the question you have to ask is: Are you sure your doing the right hard stuff?