What have you got to lose?

At 4.30pm on Friday a colleague contacted me so say someone had lost their iPhone. I am so used to that horrible feeling as you frantically search the same places again and again. But I now have a technique which works to find anything I have lost. That’s why Anna contacted me “I hear you have infallable system to find lost things …”

So I typed back my technique. Here is the skype exchange.

The technique is simple. When you lose something and you find you are tearing your hair out, STOP and get a piece of paper.

Write down everything you can remember about:

1) when you last recall having the item

2) when you noticed you didn’t.

Then, and this is the critical bit, put the kettle on. Seriously. And stop thinking about the thing you have lost. And when you have finished that cup of tea go back to that piece of paper. The first thing you write down will be where it is. And as you can see from the skype chat it works! Since joining SolarAid I’ve helped colleagues find lost items twice now.

How does this relate to fundraising? No doubt, like me, you have a stream of problems to crack. What you are missing (the lost item) is the solution.

Well to find the evasive solution try writing the problem down. Write everything you can about the problem and anything relating to it. And then, and this is the hard bit … let go. In fact feed your mind with other stuff (I’m sure you have plenty of other things to do!) and set your subconcious on to finding the solution to your problem. By priming the problem (see my blog on Thinking ) it’s like setting your brain to work through the warehouse of your mind to haul up something that might help. It could be some talk you  attended, a book you read sometime ago, or an idea you came across but right now your conscious mind doesn’t have the capacity to hold all that stuff. Make a note to come back to your problem in say a few days and see what literally comes to mind when you review it. Not that your brain will wait for that – you will be having ideas that just pop into your head when you least expect them – in the garden, during a shower, or on a run – as you subconscious brings them to the surface.

It also applies to solving problems in groups. ‘Brainstorm’ meetings when everyone turns up cold to come up with ideas really need two phases. The first stage is defining the problem and getting everyone to soak up what the problem is in their mind. Then the second stage after a break, or better still a nights sleep, is when you should start to look at solutions. Often brainstorm sessions try and do both stages in one sitting.

Everytime I lose something it takes a great deal of effort to apply this technique – i.e. to simply let go. The same applies for not trying too hard to solve a problem that is driving you potty. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?!

4 thoughts on “What have you got to lose?

  1. Very good point. I think letting it go is the hardest bit. But we can help ourselves with try to think in contradictions – “what would I NOT do now?” or simply asking people who are not involved in the process. I personally get mostly inspired by people outside of my profession. Sometimes just a simple point made on my strategy or creative idea can give me the answer I need. Thinking outside of the box is hard, so why not ask others for their opinions and analyse the problem again?


    • Thanks for your point Sylwia. I think the act of talking to someone else is another version of writing the problem on the piece of paper. Sometimes a throw away comment from someone else helps you then make that leap. People outside your profession are effectively the ‘cup of tea’ – and there is nothing like a refreshing change!


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