Let’s say you were finally sick and tired of being sick and tired, and you decided to do something about it. You joined a gym. You also knew that if you were going to reach your goals, you would need someone to provide expert instruction and ongoing accountability. So, you hired a personal trainer.
Three months passed. You barely lost any weight. You went to the gym three days a week just like your trainer instructed, but for some reason, the scale didn’t move. Frustrated by your lack of progress, you approach your trainer and exclaim, “I hired you to help me, and it’s not working! I thought you said I would get results!” Your trainer calmly responds, “What have you been eating?” Oh yeah! Instead of following the nutrition plan your trainer gave you, you’ve still been chugging a liter of soda and downing a large pizza for dinner every night.
You hired an expert who has knowledge that can help you reach your goals, but you keep making excuses and practicing bad habits that hold you back. Is that your trainer’s fault, or is it yours? Sure, it feels better to blame the trainer, but in reality, you’re the one ignoring his advice. The solution seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it?
Now, let’s move this example from the gym to your office. You hired an expert to help you grow your credit union. However, after a few months, your results are disappointing at best. Wonder why? There’s a pretty good chance you’re still doing the leadership equivalent of binging on pepperoni pizza and Pepsi—you’re ignoring the expert’s advice. On a practical level, this could mean you’re allowing task saturation to distract you from essential projects, or maybe you’re letting fear hold you back from making tough decisions that will help your credit union move forward.
This scenario isn’t hypothetical. I see it on a regular basis. A credit union leader will engage our team and ask us to help their organization break through to the next level. “What do we need to do to get the results your other credit unions are getting?” they ask. We step in, offer a new perspective, make our best recommendations, and kick their proverbial butt in our marketing gym—but they still don’t get the results they want. “We hired you to help us grow, but we’re not growing!” Clearly frustrated, the executive chooses to blame their coach and consultant, even though they know deep down that they didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.
As a consultant myself, I think it’s important to practice what I preach. I know my weaknesses, and I hire experts to help me in those areas. I’ll be the first to admit, following their advice isn’t always easy. Change usually involves one of two kinds of pain: the growing pains of progress or the bitter sting of failure. When I turn a blind eye to the expert’s guidance, I get all the pain but none of the progress. And let’s be honest, if I’m paying for advice I’m never going to take, I might as well flush some cash down the crapper and avoid the pain altogether, right?
What’s the moral of the story? Trust the expert. If you hired someone because they’re the best at what they do, follow their advice and embrace the growing pains. Make the hard decisions, do the work, and reap the results. Treat your consultant as a partner and let them hold you accountable. And most importantly, celebrate progress, not perfection.