The Development Source

Want to Improve Your Proposals? Listen to a Lama!

On the proposal blogosphere, there are many helpful pieces about improving proposal development processes. We certainly can always be enhancing our color reviews, our debriefing sessions, and many other important elements in proposal development.

However, any processes in any organization are only as effective as the people who implement them. The same is true for proposals – you can create better processes for a Red Team review, for example, but if your Red Team members fail to do their work well, the processes you follow cannot compensate for their shortcomings.

In the most recent issue of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche (a Rinpoche is term of respect in Tibetan accorded to lamas) discussed four straightforward tips for living a Buddhist life. With a slight twist, his advice can be applied to those of us, Buddhist or not, who are involved in proposal development to help ensure that the processes we often implement will work effectively.

Tip #1: Gather Merit
Cultivate compassion and do things to benefit others. Help people in an appropriate way and provide good advice. Be patient and disciplined at the same time.

Tip #2: Find Good Role Models
We all need good role models for their examples and advice. By following them, we can become much more positive, effective, and encounter fewer difficulties (maybe).

Tip #3: Approach All Tasks with Intelligence
It is often difficult to listen and learn, but we all need to do it. We need to ask ourselves, “What qualities are needed to fulfil my role? How should this task be done? What information do I need? Who do I need to work with to accomplish it? Listening and asking good questions is a first and necessary step to becoming more intelligent.

Tip #4: Nurture Dignity and Confidence
We are always encountering problems and setbacks and experiencing failure, but we should not lose our dignity and confidence. Instead, we should ask what went wrong and how we can do better next time. Figure out how to succeed in the future. Dignity and confidence are a kind of courage and therefore should be cultivated.

Over a century ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that “what lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” I think Emerson and Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche are saying the same thing. If you are interested in improving the proposal development process, improve yourself.

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