Return to site

Even Odds

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”—Warren Buffett

But shouldn't all leaders worth their salt be working hard to get ‘really successful people’ as their donors?

If the statement of Mr. Buffett is correct - when the outcome is paved with so much doubt - how can we motivate ourselves to even put in the effort?

Chazal give us a mindset shift that can change everything.

Hevei az kanamer,” Chazal tells us. “Be bold as a leopard in doing the will of your Father in Heaven.” (Avos 5:23)

Picture a leopard in the wild – striking, majestic, fiercely beautiful. For all his grandeur, however, the leopard isn’t a very effective conqueror.

Only 10-15% percent of his hunts end in successful kills. That means that 85-90% of the time, this prince of the jungle faces failure.

Despite his dismal record, the leopard never stops trying.

Each time he spots an appealing dinner option, we can imagine a little voice of doubt rising in his mind:

   “Why are you bothering? Remember what happened last time you tried this? And the time before that? You failed! Again and again! Why should this time be any different?

The leopard’s answer is a priceless lesson for all who fundraise:

   “You’re right. This time might not be any different. But I’m going to try anyway.

That is the - az kanamer - boldness of the leopard.

The daring to acknowledge the overwhelming possibility of failure – and to persevere despite it. The brazenness, or, shall we say, the chutzpah, to deliberately push forward in defiance of rationality and reason.

What if we could apply that same chutzpah to the yetzer hara that tries to get in the way of our noble efforts?

When that wily fellow attempts to play down our abilities – “Why make another call? This guy is not going to pick up anyway.” or “Why even attempt at asking for that amount? There’s no way he’s going to say yes.

What if we could respond like the leopard?

You’re right,” we would say. “He probably won’t pick up. But I’m going to call him anyway.” or “He probably won’t agree to that amount, but I’m going to ask for it anyway.

Don’t be hard on yourself - but be willing to try hard. And remember there's eternal reward waiting for you. ‘Anu rotzin v’haim rotzin…’ whatever the outcome.

Hevei az kanamer.” Put in your efforts and let the Almighty decide how and when He will bring you your success.

B'hatzlacha raba raba,


P.S. Thank you to my dear friend Rabbi Levi Lebovits of the Vaad Project for allowing me to use the ‘Hevei az kanamer’ concept and content from his recent book.


© Avraham Lewis & Co.