After almost 18 years of working with over 800 leaders and organizations, our consulting team has seen a number of leaders make the decision to move outside of what is comfortable and safe to what is so much greater… to what could be. We recently assisted two Christian ministries that were in close proximity to one another. Each had a rich history of making a difference in their communities, but one was now struggling with momentum while the other was in a season of growth. We brought them together, and they talked and developed a shared vision of what could be. They realized that what could be was so much greater together than apart. And just like in marriage, the two became one and expanded their impact beyond what either could do alone. Here are four lessons to help move beyond what is to what could be.
Cloudy vision to clear vision.
As leaders, to move our life, team, or organization forward, we need to see what could be. This means being able to see what others cannot see or spending time with those who can. Author Malcom Gladwell said it well, “The visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper and re-imagines the world.” In the story I shared, leaders from both organizations moved beyond what is to what could be by seeing something better that could only be accomplished if they did it together.
Safety to risk.
The natural propensity for us as humans is to lean towards safety. Just like when you played tag or dodgeball as a kid, you cannot win by staying in the safe zone forever. For example, it would have been so easy for the leaders of these two organizations to play it safe. After all, merging together was not without risks. But they knew that to move forward for the greater good, they had to step out of the safe zone. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” No one ever changed their lives, communities, or world without taking a risk.
Pride to humility.
One of the biggest hurdles to get over before real growth and change can happen is our own pride. World class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach Renzo Gracie said it this way, “My ego is my enemy.” Often, we are our own worst enemies. We stand in the way of what could be. And the primary cause is fear with a heavy coating of insecurity. But for leaders who move their organizations from what is to what could be, humility is often the key that starts the engine of change. Just like the leaders in my opening story, when we as leaders can make our own desires, our own security, and our own positions subordinate to the greater vision and its potential, we will begin to move to what could be.
Fear to courage.
Whenever you see an organization or a leader that is accomplishing great things, it was all started with the courage to act. The openness to listen. The willingness to allow others to lead. The consideration of scary ideas. The bravery to push back against fear rather than surrendering to it. And the sacrifice of possibly having a few people not like you. Courage is not freedom from fear but rather decisive action even in the midst of fear. In his book A Failure of Nerve, therapist and consultant Edwin Friedman says people who lead are not always the smartest or the most knowledgeable. Rather, those who go first have desire, decisiveness, and “just plain nerve.” They do not allow the chronic anxiety that is often prevalent in organizations to prevent them from making the decision to act.
Contact us to learn how our consultants can give you the assistance you need to move your organization beyond what it is to what it could be.
Jay Desko is the Executive Director of The Center Consulting Group and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Jay brings experience in the areas of organizational assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include an M.Ed. in Instructional Systems Design from Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership from The Union Institute.