July 9, 2023

Stuck on Your Vision? 4 Ways to Overcome Hurdles

I was pinned under a 200-pound guy, and he had scissors. The volunteer assignment was simple: help a young man with developmental disabilities learn a new skill one-on-one.  We were working on learning scissor use.

How did I end up flailing on the floor?

I had a clear vision for my college volunteering experience: Explore different ways to help people reach excellence. What I didn’t anticipate was my impatience, physical limits, and teamwork preference.

Do you ever feel pinned down and unable to move toward your vision? You move toward your vision. It goes well for a while until you get flattened by roadblocks or stuck by barriers that stymie forward movement. While your vision still calls you, a path forward disappears.

You have a vision block.

Suddenly, what seemed brilliant gets crushed under a semi-truck of challenges. Your board bucks. Your staff nods and fails to implement. Donors and funders look interested at first. It’s disappointing. It’s frustrating. You ask: Is my goal possible? (See “The Gap Between Now and Your Vision” for how alternate strategies work to reach your vision.)

How to Blow Vision Block to Smithereens

After years of focusing on my lifetime goal of helping people reach excellence, I’ve come up with a dozen techniques that blow vision blocks to smithereens. Here are three:

1. Small Chunks

If you saw a petite volunteer working with a football team-sized player, you would immediately reassign people for a better fit. Do you provide the same kindness for yourself? Do you adjust your vision steps to fit your time and resources? What would a simple step toward progress look like? Don’t forget your vision; instead, right-size it for now.

For example, a client wants his board members to identify prospects for sponsorships. Instead of pushing all of the board members to help and getting crushed by their resistance, after some coaching, he approaches two of his board champions. Together, they identify three possibilities. Then, with this as an example, he approaches a third and board member.

In six months, the client increases the organization’s sponsorships by 100 percent.

What is one small step you can take toward your vision today?

2. Toss the Rules 

We set imaginary rules for ourselves, and sometimes, we don’t even know we created them. For instance, you decide, “We have to get a grant for this.” After you get no after no, you get crushed. Suspend the rule! Imagine not following “best practices.” Try something fresh.

In 7 Nonprofit Income Streams, read about Bok Tower Gardens’ rule toss. Staff was stuck on how to fund a 1929 mansion, so instead of following the “get a grant approach,” they changed what happened when visitors arrived at their site.

And they increased the mansion’s income by 300 percent.

What rules or “ways we do things” might be getting in the way? What is this block was a clear road sign to adjust your plans to a better path?

3. Flip the Block

Do you remember the Rubik’s Cube? To solve these 3-D puzzles, you flip cube pieces until the patterns on all sides match. To blow up your vision blocks, flip your actions to turn blocks into advantages. My story of being pinned as a volunteer led to this post. Likewise, all blocks hide advantages. Explore the block and find them.

A CEO is called for jury duty. But, instead of hardship, she sees the day as an opportunity to educate people about her mission.

Early on the first day of jury duty, she began a relationship with a person who became a favorite board member.

What does your situation look like to someone from another planet? Another country? Another nonprofit?

4. Find Help

Too often, we rely on ourselves, forgetting that we have a world of resources around us.

Who can you ask to hear your frustration, help you understand the situation, and perhaps discover your best options?

Overcoming Today’s Hurdles 

Some people give up on their vision.

Not you.

You reach out to grab a hand. You struggle to wiggle free. What’s your next step to get unpinned?

Let me know what you discover, and when you’re ready, here is one way I can help you.

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Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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