How your growth goal could kill us

Have you ever been a part of a team that is obsessed with growth?  I have.  At some point a big vision is cast. It's inspiring and it feels right.  At other times growth feels like a hamster wheel.  You work hard to win a battle only to face the same battle the next year, eventually the battles start to blend together and the only thing you count is loss.  But can we be a leader if we aren't talking about growth?

I don't believe that growth is the enemy.  I do believe that having an unquenchable thirst to grow is destructive.  In Jim Collins' book How the Might Fall, Jim say's this on page 54,

The greatest leaders do seek growth-growth in performance, growth in destinctive impact, growth in creativity, growth in people-but they do no succumb to growth that undermines long-term value.  And they certainly do not confuse growth with excellence.  Big does not equal great, and great does not equal big.

Yep, right there is a truth bomb.  Are you ears still connected to your head because your brain might have just exploded?

How do we fall into the trap of constantly trying to grow (Which mistakenly makes us think we are great)?  I think we can fall into the trap in these ways:

1.  Bulk is better - A culture can easily fall in love with "more".  Abundance displaces fear.  If we have everything than we don't need to worry about drought.  But "more" is costly.  Inevitably we trade something to have more.  What we are most likely to give up for more is the culture that originally made us great.  We move from a creative culture to a management culture.  This leads us to management of scarcity instead of a pursuit to get better in culture, or innovation, or reach.

2.  Because the Bible say's so - After all, the great commission does say "Go into all nations."  That sounds like a pretty hefty growth goal for 11 fellas with no access to airplanes, right?  I would say this falls under Collins' list above as growth in distinctive impact.  Jesus didn't say, "In the next 60 years you better have a Caesar on board, ya heard."  (That would be pretty sweet to hear Jesus throw down some slang)  But Jesus does say, go.  Now that's a goal.  You and I, we have to go.  But remember this commission is to individuals who make up a team, not to a team that needs to conform individuals.

3.  The sake of our name - I have to check myself all the time.  I have windows in leadership where I think I killed it.  Those windows of time are measured by numbers.  But the longer you lead the more you realize there are seasons of less numbers but equal the amount of work, maybe even more work.  This is the nature of leading a team.  But don't set goals for growth because you think it reflects on your name as a leader or it reflects on the name of your team or organization.

When I think about being a great leader I think about things like: Seeing others have success, seeing the lives of impacted people change, and celebrating what we've done together as a team.  I have to be careful the measure the right types of growth.

There's a lot at stake.  Thus the challenge to being a leader.  I'll leave you with this final comment from Collins' (p.62),

While no leader can single-handedly build an enduring great company, the wrong leader vested with power can almost single-handedly bring a company down.  Choose well.

Increase your non-profit audience by 15,209%

Check this out: In six days we saw an increase of 15,209% on our Facebook page. No, I didn't make that number up. Here's proof:



So what happened?

A plan.

Here was the plan:

1. Pull back the curtain - We focused in on a time where we have the maximum attention because we do something very well. If this is what we do best than we were going to expose it. Not later but right in the moment. We have to stop trying to be the Great Oz manufacturing a great show through manipulative story telling. People don't buy this type of story telling online.

2. Give notice - In our case we do amazing camps for high school people. We had our high school friends write thank you cards to their parents when they got on the bus. These thank you cards had our Facebook page, blog, and a notice that up to date information would be shared. When the bus pulled away for camp those cards were in the hands of their parents.

3. Focus on faces - I'm confident that images drove everything. But they weren't just wide pictures from a distance, they were up close pictures of faces. The only thing we love more than experiences are people. Think about that the next time you want to share an organizations narrative online. People want to see the people they care about and then their experience.

4. You have less than 500 words - If a picture is worth a 1000 words than I'm not sure how many more you need. Don't use more than 500. Tell the story. Tell it well. Tell it in as few words as possible.

5. Be consistant - In our situation we had six days of the highest amount of attention. So we did six days of story telling - words, pictures, and videos. Consistency brings people back looking for more online.

The feedback has been incredible. Engagement is at an all time high. And it can be done because of social media. We can bring growth in the non profit world through engagement online.

What does your organization or team do better than anything else in the year? How are you maximizing the moment and exposing it to the entire tribe and not just those who are present at the event?

If you would like to see what we did you can view our Facebook page at and our blog at

The pursuit of more

As a leader is the pursuit of everything being bigger exhausting you? There is a new four letter word that is haunting most leaders I see: MORE. The pursuit of bigger, or the pursuit of more, is the new hamster wheel.

We've been sold that if you just had "more" all the problems would go away but the problem is "more". This more you are looking for is elusive because once you think you have arrived, more gets bigger.

"We need more people."

"We need more revenue."

"We need more marketing."

More is to leaders as crack is to an addict. Are you addicted? Here are the signs you are:

1. Every problem is solved with the thought, "If only we had more (blank)."

2. When you have to report numbers you feel like you're failing.

3. You wake up to pressure, you go to bed to pressure.

4. You aren't having fun.

5. You're eyes are always on what someone else is accomplishing.

If this list describes your life it's time to trade in bigger for better. Do what you're great at. Have fun. Reflect more on what you have and what you can do to make it better instead of being addicted to what someone else has.