“I ran out of time.” “I can’t do everything myself.” “I didn’t have enough information.” Excuses are the lies we tell ourselves to make us feel better for a lack of action that leads down the path to failure.
As we fly past the midway point of 2017, think about your successes this year. Have you experienced loan growth? Have you experienced member growth?
If so, was it enough to meet your stretch goals?
If not, what excuses are you making for not reaching your goals?
If that last statement sounds harsh, it’s because it is… and I can relate. In May, I got to experience my first Jazz Fest in New Orleans. While I enjoyed dozens of bands over the 4 days I spent there, one stands out to me. That band was different. They lacked the glitz and glam of a normal rock and roll band. Their musical style was one of a kind. The way they performed when interacting with the audience was something like I had never seen. Their power to ignite emotions with their fans was something like you’d see in Benny Hinn television special.
The name of the band is Cowboy Mouth. The call and response between the band and their fans was unleashed several times per song. After the show, I had to go look this band up. What was their story? It was an adventure I would never have dreamed of in a million years.
Fred LeBlanc, the dynamic drummer and passionate lead vocalist, puts my many excuses for lack of action to shame. LeBlanc was born deaf. His parents used to place his head against a stereo speaker and play music, hoping this might somehow awaken his hearing. At the age of 3, after a successful operation, LeBlanc gained his hearing and, perhaps significantly, starting singing before learning how to speak. The drums came into his life shortly thereafter, thanks to Sesame Street. “When I was 5 years old, all I wanted was a garbage can like Oscar the Grouch. My parents bought me one for Christmas, and I loved it. But one day I turned it over and beat on it and was like, ‘Oh, this is everything!’ It just started from there,” LeBlanc said in an interview.
Born deaf, now leader of one of the most iconic pop culture bands in Louisiana. Now what’s that last excuse you used for (fill in the blank here)?
It also explains why his lyrics spoke to me in a way that was very different from many other artists. His song, I Believe, is obviously written from the heart: I believe that sometimes you've got to take a chance, that you can't live your life just listening to can'ts, ‘cause the thrill of the fall's part of the thrill of the dance…”
As we enter strategic planning season and reflect on 2017 while looking ahead to 2018, it’s going to be pretty easy to fill our heads with excuses for why we couldn’t or can’t accomplish our goals. Here are a couple of lessons I’ve taken from one of my new favorite bands. Keep these in the back of your mind whenever you’re tempted to lie to yourself about your potential:
Remember why you do what you do. “Enthusiasm,” says LeBlanc emphatically. “everything else springs from that. If you find that enthusiasm, and find faith in yourself within that enthusiasm, nothing can stop you. That’s what a Cowboy Mouth show is—it’s an exercise in enthusiasm. Coming into a venue and remembering what it’s like to be 5 years old and find that joy, that celebration within yourself. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do with my life and so far, I have.” Find your enthusiasm for your credit union all over again.
Get over yourself. "Every band knows they have to play the songs the fans want to hear. You know, you get a lot of these musicians that are just like, 'Oh, my God, I can't stand playing my hit song; it's such a burden' . . . My instinct is to say get over it. McDonald's is hiring." Stop making it about you, and give your members what they need. Remember those basic principles that your credit union was founded on. There were some people who needed help and your credit union was the only place they could turn.
If you remember these two things, when you start talking strategy, you’ll focus on your why and how to so much your personality or ego has to get out of the way of sound decision making. “A Cowboy Mouth show is not about the four people on stage; it’s about everyone there having the time of their lives.” Your credit union isn’t about the people in the room making the decisions. It’s about the members who have trusted you with one of the most sacred things in their lives… money. It’s about those members having people they can trust, to help them at the highest of highs and lowest of lows in their life when they need sound financial advice the most. Hammer out your chosen path. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish.