Three Circumstances

Let me tell you about three leaders who find themselves in three different places.   All are real leaders; all are current circumstances.  I will offer no commentary.  Take from their stories what you will.

The first leader is feeling very good.  Not so long ago, she recognized that her successful business needed to change, to grow and mature.  She undertook a process that helped her organization make this change, and it wasn't necessarily fun.  While there were signs of hope along the way, and she believed in what she was doing, much of it was uncomfortable.  It often alternated between nerve-wracking and just plain boring.  But she persevered, and she's glad she did.  Today the business is vastly improved.

The second leader is not feeling very good.  He recognizes that his successful business needs to change, to grow and mature.  He is starting a process designed to help his organization make this change, and it is painful.  The company's methods and expectations, some long-cherished, are under the microscope.  The team has identified some things as areas for improvement, which means some current practices are now implicitly labeled "inferior."  New practices - logical and hopeful but unproven, and therefore scary - will have to take their place.

The third leader is a bit apprehensive.  Every year his organization delivers superior results.  The line on the chart just keeps going up.  But he wonders if they're doing the best they can... or just better than they did.  He is concerned that they could be complacent in their success, and underperform relative to their potential.  He plans to undertake a process to stretch the organization further, to evaluate their practices and expectations in order to identify greater opportunities.  He is aware that discomfort lies ahead.  He believes that any significant change - no matter how good the intent - will feel threatening, or exhausting, or frustrating, or even boring somewhere along the way.

In which of these three circumstances do you find yourself today?  And if you're feeling good, how long until you begin the cycle again?