How to overcome complacency and introduce real urgency (Steps 1 – 3)

With the help of a few quotes from Wayne Gretzky (in italics below), not just widely regarded as the best ever ice hockey player but also his intelligence and reading of the game were unrivalled (see box below), I would like to put forward some suggestions as to how you, and your organisation, can overcome the smugness that can be so detrimental to your future survival and growth.

1. It all starts with real urgency. Real urgency is about getting things done and moving forward – day in, day out. False urgency happens when panic strikes due to some unexpected external pressure. As no one is prepared for or skilled to deal with the situation, everyone runs around like headless chickens and nothing really happens. However, too often this flurry of activity is mistaken for progress.

Real urgency happens when you and like-minded people start to make changes on a regular basis, because, you want to move forward, now. You have it in your hearts that you want to make progress. Initially, you are a bit vulnerable, until you have gained some success (however small) and earned people’s respect.

Deal with opportunities and challenges NOW – don’t wait until next month’s meeting. Give people the facts: ‘We are losing money, members and community support – here are my/our thoughts on how to deal with it; for all of us.’

“Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.”

2. Stop believing that ‘it can’t be done.’ As Henry Ford (he of Ford T fame) commented: “When people say they can’t or they can, they are normally right.” Do the things you can do and gradually you’ll start having small successes and other likeminded people will want to join you in your quest.

Have a vision of where you want to go yourself and where you would like your group/provider to be. Warning: If it’s just about survival of yourself and your organisation, most other people won’t care. What is your BIG Vision? Is it about ‘helping people change their lives through sport’ or is it just ‘make sure we survive here?’

Make sure that you have communicated that vision and that you get buy-in from as,many like-minded people as possible. However, don’t waste time on convincing the NoNos (see para 4).

“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be. I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”
3. Seek to better yourself and your club/activity provider. The more open your culture and the wider and more up-to-date your skills base is, the more likely you are to be able to embrace change and benefit from it.

Send people out. Visit outstanding clubs, leisure centres, community sports enterprises or even great hotels, leisure parks or community centres and learn from them. Attend one of SMN’s workshops (or talk to us about running one in your area) and keep learning and implementing new ideas.

Do not accept the limited what I/we know here (which leads to the way we do things around here) – that will be your downfall.

“My success is not about creative genius. It’s all practice. I got it from my dad. Nine out of ten people think it is instinct, and it isn’t. Nobody would ever say a doctor had learned his profession by instinct; yet in my own way I’ve put in almost as much time studying hockey as a medical student puts in studying medicine!”

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