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Dealing With Stress

John F. MarshallBy John Marshall
Senior Vice President

Whether you are a consultant (as I am), a vice president in charge of institutional advancement at the world’s largest university or the assistant for paper clip disbursement within a development office, we all are faced with stress on the job. Maybe it has to do with trying to get your board moving in the right direction, or trying to help your CEO understand why his/her involvement is so important to the success of your fundraising efforts.  Perhaps it is dealing with a prospect who seems to enjoy doing everything but making a gift. Regardless, stress is something in the development world that is, as far as I am concerned, IMPOSSIBLE to avoid.
How you handle stress can have a real impact on how you perform in your job, and if not properly addressed, can lead to a less than happy experience.
I used to work with a client who seemed to be successful in generating one stressful situation after another for me. Now mind you, this was an organization with a very worthy mission and full of the nicest, dedicated people – both volunteers and staff. However, they often “didn’t get it” and were not as attentive – if at all – to my suggestions on how they could.
Recently, my wife and I attended an absolutely blissful concert here in Kansas City performed by the Boys and Men’s Choir of Saint Thomas Church, a world-renowned chorus from New York City. Being an aficionado of choral music of all kinds, I attended the concert with great anticipation…and was not disappointed. Their singing was sublime and had an effect on me that I can only describe as calming. I can tell you that I emerged from the concert cool, calm and collected. 
I had forgotten the effect choral music had on me and was reminded afterwards that I need to balance my life with more similar experiences. I certainly could have benefited from it years ago, when I was dealing with my “stressful” client.  The concert really had a wonderful impact and was a great stress suppressant.
So what do you do to relieve stress? Whatever it is, keep doing the same. If you don’t have such a vehicle, I would encourage you to find something that will have a calming effect, something that will help in balancing things in your life, both professionally and personally.

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