As leaders, we're often afraid to kill things that used to serve us well. Maybe it's that we don't like change, or maybe it's that we operate by the idea if it's not broke, don't fix it. We often find ourselves treading water when we lead out of fear, maintaining the status quo, not charging forward changing the world, because we're afraid of changing ourselves.
As a pastor, I know there are programs, systems, processes, and even worship elements that become too sacred to stop. We know they aren't working, but we like them. So we have some questions that sound like this:
What about the people who are still enjoying them?
Does killing that program or element communicate that we don't care about those people?
What if our attendance decreases because of the change?
Who is this process hurting anyway?
What if changing this ends up changing the entire organization?
It's the same fear in business. We've operated this way successfully for so long that if we change it now we may be unsuccessful and our customers won't return, because they liked it the way it was.
It's the same fear in life. If I make this change, I might lose my friends, family, or job. What if I lose myself? And we make decisions based on fear of the unknown.
Fear is a terrible leader. The Bible says that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and discipline. It also says that perfect love (which only exists in God) casts out all fear. So if I'm operating out of fear, I'm operating without God. That's scary.
Fear sucks the life out of your passion, your vision, and your progress. One of the best questions I can ask myself when making decisions is: Am I deciding out of fear? If the answer is Yes, then I know I'm making the wrong decision, or at least thinking with the wrong motive.
Fear sucks the life out of your passion, your vision, and your progress.
When I make decisions from asking what is possible, I open my mind instead of close it. While fear closes the door to creativity, possibility opens the door to creativity. When I lead with possibility, I find myself asking these questions:
What doors could this open in the future?
Whose life could be transformed because of this?
What barriers could be broken if we pursue this?
How could this redefine and expand our organization?
Who are we currently not reaching who could be reached by this new thing?
So when is the right time to kill something that is no longer serving our purpose and vision? When it no longer serves your purpose and vision. If it's not pushing you toward your goal, it's holding you back. Could it be that your current success is the biggest opposition to your next success?
Maintenance is a terrible mode to operate in. We often push hard, making progress until we get to a comfortable place where we're happy with the results. Often times we then relax and go into maintenance mode, thinking we're happy with where we've come and now it's time to maintain. The truth is that maintaining is much more draining than pushing forward, because there are no new goals, no new vision, and no new purpose. The emotional reward and input you receive from seeing new goals, vision, and purpose accomplished is no longer fueling your drive, so you have to stimulate the passion from an empty tank or settle for "fake it 'til you make it."
Systems, programs, and elements that set us into maintenance pace should be killed ASAP. Force yourself to recreate yourself and reinvent your organization, which continually builds excitement, passion, and purpose. The more ground you take, the bigger difference you can make!