About my writing: My passion is to develop leaders who have eternity in mind with Jesus as their guide. To that end, I write about two topics. The first is leadership and character development. The second is Biblical principles through the lens of a leader.
I recently learned a leadership lesson: Excitement has a shelf life. We know this from our childhoods. However, as leaders when we make an exciting and engaging move within our organizations, we sit on it for a long time then wonder why it stopped working for us and our people.
As children we get so enamored with a new toy. We work hard, save our allowance, and finally feel over the moon as we purchase a video game, or a remote controlled car, or a scooter we’ve wanted. Fast forward a few weeks or months, our excitement to have this toy wanes until our prized possession ultimately collects dust.
We do the same as adults. We get excited about buying a new car, a bike, a pool, a drill, or a smoothie machine. After we’ve had the new item for a while, the excitement fades, and it too collects dust.
As leaders, it should be no surprise when we witness the same phenomenon. We come up with a new, exciting, energizing program, and we feel we are home free. We tend to forget that this new level of engagement is generated by an idea that will someday become obsolete.
We must never feel home free because that’s when we tend to coast and ultimately settle. Rather, we must always be building upon the next level, looking for a new way and another approach to motivate and engage, to enthrall and rekindle the fire within us and those we lead.
I remember when we published a third iteration of our mission and values in 2019. It was our best version yet. I recall the excitement when we took over our mission clinic in Kenya. I remember the anticipation we all felt when we stepped into Emergency Medicine, when we bought and started our own psychiatry clinic, and again when we launched weekly company-wide meetings to focus on growth and alignment. I remember the energy we generated when we started our leadership training university, Cedarfort.
At the onset of each of these endeavors, we realized how bold and revolutionary these projects were for our organization. They created a buzz, a loud roar in the hallways of our company that called all of us to action. Still, each of these programs, even after a few short months and years, became normal. We had engendered a proud group of leaders and staff, but the excitement had fizzled and been replaced with a duty to upkeep these new initiatives.
As leaders, we need the team to be excited about how we are growing—and not just the team, but the board members, the executive team, and the senior management. Everyone. I want to see a sparkle in the eyes of the people who work with us. The attitude of ‘been there, done that,’ or ‘we are used to exciting and new things,’ is blasé and simply not good for keeping the culture vibrant and alive.
What to do? Can we afford a constant effort to come up with new ideas to keep the passion burning? Yes, we must. Here are five ideas to keep excitement high.
- Acknowledge that excitement has a shelf life. Expect the initial excitement to dwindle. Accept it so you don’t allow it to frustrate you. Regardless of what mountain you just scaled, know that your team will long to tackle the next one, and that is a good thing. It’s is a sign that you have tigers, fighters, and winners going the journey with you. Actually, if your team does not long to go on the next journey, you may have the wrong people with you.
- Get creative. A few months ago, someone at our organization suggested, “Why not have a library?” Our company is a learning organization. We love to celebrate and invest in people. The new library will be launched in the next few weeks to loan books to staff. This idea has injected excitement and reminded us of the DNA of our company. It has reminded us that we are readers and learners and innovators. We are bold to think outside the box. We go out of our way to learn. Still, I know that within a short while, maybe a few months, maybe a little longer, even this exciting idea will not spark the same flame.
- Keep the additions small. When we took over the operation of the mission clinic in Eldoret, Kenya, it was a very bold move. Yet, while it took us a few months of serious conversations and research, the final investment was not big. It was and still is a relatively small operation. The reason we started this mission was not to bolster excitement, but because we had a conviction to serve. The clinic has been a constant reminder of who we are—a company with a mission.
- Stop some programs and start new ones. Do we have programs or ideas that are no longer relevant? We must have the courage and discipline to stop certain protocols, regular meetings, or programs if they are no longer beneficial. It is not always easy to end things, but it must be done in order to funnel our energies into new initiatives.
- Ask the team. Anytime we have asked the team for ideas, I am shocked at the amount of amazing feedback we receive. Ask your people what they are thinking. If your budget is small and you know you cannot do a Kenya type project to demonstrate your heart to serve, then find something closer to you. Your people will know of needs you may not be aware of.