Jack sauntered across the parking lot, confident in the relative clean bill of health he’d just received from his family doctor. His blood pressure looked good. Jogging had kept most of the jellyroll off his midsection. Not a bad picture of health for someone enjoying middle-age, he thought to himself. In fact, the only mild concern might have been the barely elevated cholesterol levels, but hey, at his age who’s really worried about heart disease? Never mind that Jack’s father and grandfather had each suffered heart attacks in their early 50s. He’d heard it right. “Looking good,” your physician had proclaimed. In fact, Jack could almost taste the New York strip steak waiting for him at the corporate dinner to which he was headed.
Does anything stand out as problematic in this story? Any concerns that Jack should heed?
Clearly, it doesn’t take a medical degree to read the risks that stand before him, those that he seems to be downplaying in favor of the positivity of his current health. Given his family history, Jack ought to be keenly aware of the connection between high cholesterol and heart disease. And surely he is. But the tendency for many of us is to frequently focus on the good state of present affairs, pushing off the need for change to reduce future risks. Simply put, we want to relish the moment. We’ll deal with the future when it arrives.
Unfortunately, the same holds true with respect to organizations and their on-going success. Too often, leaders put off intentionally pursuing renewal, opting instead to bask in the glories of their past efforts. The scores of companies and former executives who have experienced marked declines is evidence of the folly of such an approach.
Renewal is the name of the game, constant, thoughtful, and planned. Indeed, when organizations pursue renewal with intentionality, the results exciting and limitless. But such a path can be unsettling. Only by confronting areas of necessary change and improvement can subsequent growth and development be ensured.
Yes, Jack needs to intentionally evaluate and plan out ways to stave off the familial coronary issues that potentially block his future. And organizations must actively seek out ways to continue growing leaders and pursue increasing successes. Only by doing so can they hope to Stay Great.
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