To retreat means to pull back, withdraw, retire, fall back, giveaway, give up ground, beat a hasty retreat. Is this the direction we want our troops – our volunteers and leaders – to follow us in?
Picture a seasoned leader approaching the enemy, getting closer to the goal. Suddenly he comes to a halt, turns and signals with the wave of a sword and a guttural cry for his people to retreat, to return to where they came from. Horses spin and chaos ensues. Surely, that isn’t what we have in mind. Surely, we don’t want that confusion.
As 2015 approaches and we carefully plan our goals and our visions, let’s rethink the words we use. Forget the retreat – I say it’s time for an advance!
Advance by its very definition means move forward in a purposeful way. Isn’t an advance a more accurate description of what we want our volunteer leaders and members to do? We don’t want our valuable members to retreat – to pull back from the battle at large. We want our people to re-think, re-focus, and re-energize, but not to retreat.
At the pace our world is moving, it is critical we minimize confusion in business. One way to do this is to use the words we mean, and mean the words we use. Here are three ways to advance your association in 2015.
- Advance your vision/mission: Ask your leadership, staff, and board if they know your vision/mission. If they do not, dust it off, shorten it to a tweetable message, and breathe new life into it.
- Advance your board/staff: Offer a training or webinar for them to learn the new skills it takes to lead in today’s demanding climate
- Advance your action items: Hold staff and leaders accountable by assigning each task to a specific person and have a specific end date for each action item.
In September 2014, the Oxford English dictionary added three phrases: fact-check, workaround, and First World problem. Now is the time for you to change the words you use, add advance to your dictionary. This will shift the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of your board by adapting your retreat from something they dread to something they get excited to contribute to. Words are powerful. Advance your vision and mission in 2015.