One Word Describes Why You’re Not Growing: F***

If you don’t have big conversations and set ambitious goals in your strategic planning session this fall, it’s because of one word: Fear.

“I just wish we could get the results that your clients are having.” I hear this statement often, and it usually comes from leaders who are afraid of change. They fear failure without even considering a realistic worst-case scenario. They’re scared of questions from the board that they may not be able to answer. They worry about making waves just a few years shy of retirement. For a variety of reasons, they’re paralyzed by fear.

Unfortunately, your credit union won’t grow by chance. You will only improve when you resolve to make purposeful change. Before you chart a path forward, make sure you understand your biggest challenge. Change is not your enemy. Fear is.

If you’re still reading, there’s a good chance you’re like us. You give a damn. You see an opportunity to serve a niche that isn’t being served well—or maybe not being served at all. You have a vision for your organization. You know that change is essential, but you’re unsure of where to start. You have a lot of ideas, but you don’t know the right questions to ask to test those ideas.

If you’re lucky, your board is supportive of change and willing to let you fail at something because they understand that if your organization is going to be around 20 years from now (or even five years from now), it needs to be relevant today. They also know that failure means you tried something and that the next opportunity will be successful because of what you learned from that failure.

Still hesitant to take bold steps in the next year? Don’t let fear hold you back any longer. Set big goals, and remember the words of Denis Waitley, “The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them.”

If you haven’t booked your strategic planning session yet, I still have a few dates available this fall. Don’t approach 2019 like it’s just another year. Treat it as THE year that your credit union will do something great. I will facilitate a discussion that helps you ask the right questions to create a strategic plan that enables you to get out of your comfort zone, get unstuck, and take your organization to the “next level.”

From strat plans to rebrands, YMC President and CEO, Bo, is passionate about helping financial institutions come up with a winning formula. If you’re ready to go beyond the SWOT, you can email him at

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