I was sitting at a café with my wife the other day, enjoying a peppermint tea, and we happened to notice that one table in the corner wasn’t getting filled. One after the other, three different couples sat down at the table, but each ended up leaving after a few minutes because no-one had come to give them a menu.
Now the café was already pretty full and there weren’t many spare tables left, so maybe the staff were thinking ‘Ah it’s not so serious, we already have enough customers.’ And maybe you would think the same as well. But it’s exactly that attitude that is dangerous to growth. If you can’t be bothered to reach out to a visitor at your organisation or business or church, then you ain’t gonna expand very much or very far.
In the church world we call it “medium-sized church complacency”. This kind of thinking is a trap you can fall into in your second stage of growth, just after you’ve made it out of the first growth stage (you know, the “pleeease come visit and help us fill up our half-empty building on Sunday” stage). In your second stage of growth, there are no more rolling tumbleweeds or awkward coughs that echo off the bare walls. You have enough people hanging around to make things feel comfortable. And if you don’t watch out, that’s exactly when you can become complacent.
Whether you’re in a church or a business, the temptation is the same. Growth requires effort. It’s messy. It’s difficult. It requires getting off your butt and engaging new visitors. Faced with the effort it takes to grow, many leaders and staff or volunteer teams choose the easy route. They think, “It’s ok, we don’t desperately need new customers, we can relax a little now.” But that leaves them dead in the water, consigned to mediocrity.
So how do you avoid the pitfall of complacency?
Remember when you first started out at your current job (or volunteering in your current team)? Remember how you used to get out of bed all fired up, because you were involved in something awesome, something that brought meaning to your life? Whatever it was that got you to sign up for where you are now, catch sight of it again. Lay hold of the vision. And don’t let it go.
Hunger is contagious. It breathes new life back into your soul. It gives you and your team the passion to chase down your goals, to make something truly great out of what you’re doing.
So don’t stop reaching out to new people. And never become complacent. Wherever you are now, you can still go higher.
Image credit: Two hungry dogs in a basket by Marcel_Ekkel http://www.flickr.com