Hurricane Reflections: If you want to grow, you’ll need to change

Hurricane Matthew

As I write this, I’m sitting in New Orleans near the banks of the Mississippi River, banks that Hurricane Barry recently threatened to overflow. Fortunately, the Big Easy didn’t experience a catastrophic storm surge, but the rising waters did cause me to reflect on a statement that a board chair made as we kicked off a planning session several years ago.

“You cannot step in the same river twice.”

He was paraphrasing an idea originally put forth by a Greek philosopher back in 544 B.C. The full proverb states, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

At the time of our conversation, the board chair’s credit union was struggling with complacency. His statement served as a kick in the pants that led to some difficult, but necessary, conversations about the factors that were keeping them from growth. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the first time I had encountered a board and leadership team hopelessly wondering how to grow their credit union. As I looked around the conference room, I could see all the signs. They were in survival mode.

As our meeting began, the board chair spoke up and said, “This planning session will decide our future. We’re going to find a way to grow and give it our all, or we’re going to end up having to merge.” As the leader of the strategic planning session, I realized the stakes were incredibly high. No pressure, right?


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