What to Do When You’ve Stopped Growing
Ever feel like you’re stuck? Like your organization, or your personal leadership, has hit a wall and you just can’t seem to get past it?
You’re not alone! If you try to lead at all, you are definitely going to go through seasons where you feel like you’ve plateaued. Where you don’t know what to do next. Where you hit a creative roadblock and you can’t seem to motivate yourself or others.
What do you do when you feel like you’ve stopped?
Refuse to Make Excuses
When you’re stuck, the last thing you need is excuses.
Alan Redpath said, “An excuse is just a lie stuffed in the skin of a reason.”
When you’re blaming something or someone else for a lack of initiative or motivation, you remain stuck because you can’t fix the people or the circumstances you’re blaming.
Remember the Basics
Sometimes you have to go back to the basic principles of leadership, such as…
You’re either growing, or your dying.
We are meant to grow. Healthy things grow. We’re born into this world, growing, and if we don’t grow as babies, someone takes us to the doctor to find out what’s holding us back.
Your physical growth might peak in your late teens, but mentally and spiritually, you can go right on growing throughout your adulthood. I’m now 41 and I feel that I learn new lessons daily.
You can always improve.
We are created to achieve. We’re designed to keep on growing and improving. And when we’re not improving, we feel unfulfilled. It’s a matter of finding the areas in which you need growth and concentrating on those needs.
Everything rises and falls on leadership.
When your team or organization isn’t growing, you have to face the possibility that perhaps it’s your lack of growth that is holding things back. When you’re not growing, the people around you won’t grow either.
There’s no room for complaining about the organization or the rest of the team. You must remember the age-old principle that everything rises and falls on leadership.
You are the lid.
You are the lid on your own growth. You are the lid on the people that you lead. If you’re leading at a level eight out of ten and feel pretty good about it, you need to remember that someone underneath you is leading at a seven, and they want to grow to an eight or a nine, but you’re holding them back because you’re the lid.
When you settle you become a lid for the rest of the organization.
I’m not writing this from a posture of superiority. I’m sharing as one who struggles. I’ve had to face these things repeatedly.
Let me make a quick caveat before we get into the things that I think you should do to get unstuck. It’s possible that you’re burning out, or that you’re exhausted, or that you’re struggling with an emotional health issue. There are times to rest and rejuvenate and refresh, away from leadership. I took a sabbatical last year – an entire month away from my church. It was a very healthy season.
But, if you’re not ready to take a sabbatical and you’re convinced what you’re facing is not merely a matter of a lack of rest and rhythm, then let’s dig into what you can do to go from where you are to the next level in leadership.
Do a Thorough Self-Evaluation
Get tough on yourself. I struggle with this because I love to celebrate successes. I love to focus on what I’ve done well.
- How are you doing with people?
- How are you doing with your time?
- How are you doing in terms of growing your knowledge?
- How are you doing in terms of managing
Get Brutally Honest Feedback
You must have people in your life that can and will speak honestly to you. In the week before writing this, I’ve had at least four significant conversations with people who were willing to share something with me that wasn’t very positive.
If you’re not open to that kind of conversation, you’re already finished growing. You must be open to feedback from people who are looking at you and your leadership from a different perspective. This feedback can come from friends, colleagues, coaches, or mentors, but it needs to come from somewhere.
By the way, this is why I’m such a big believer in leadership coaching. It’s why I coach others. If you want feedback, support, encouragement, and a challenge from me, reach out about my coaching services.
I also want to challenge you to repent.
This word repent is not just a religious word. It has roots in faith. It’s a biblical word. But it’s more than just a religious word.
To repent literally means to change the way you think. Most of us think of repentance in a shame-based sense. You’ve done something bad, you feel shame, and you confess, apologize, and make amends. But I believe that the result of repentance is always refreshing.
I always feel fresh after repentance. Guilt is never the end result of repentance. The end result of repentance is always freedom. Whether you’re a Christian or not, if you’re in leadership, there are times when you need to do some repenting.
First of all, repentance in leadership means rebelling against the status quo. For me, I repent in prayer. I talk to God about it. I go to God and say,
God, I have settled for the status quo. I have adopted mediocrity and I’ve been clinging to it. It’s been like a comfort zone for me. I have become addicted to ease and comfort and convenience and I haven’t wanted to step outside of that zone and I repent of that right now. I hereby reject the status quo. I hereby reject fear. I want to overthrow its power. I reject that. I also am going to change the way that I think. I’m going to think differently. I’m going to force myself to get outside the box and I’m going to welcome the kind of refreshing that I desperately need.
Again, I’m not talking about repentance in the context of having committed a grave sin and coming in a sense of shame and confessing that. (If you’ve committed a grave sin, you certainly need to do that, but I’m talking about repentance in the context of changing the trajectory of your leadership by changing your thinking.)
Listen to Fresh Voices
You need to listen to some voices outside of your current circle of influencers. I have my favorite podcasts from people in my niche who sharpen me. But I’ve also found great benefit in listening to people outside of my normal circle of influencers.
Just recently I picked up a book called Destiny, by T. D. Jakes. And I’m hooked, because it has challenged me to think, in fresh ways, with fresh terminology, through a different set of eyes about my life.
I’m a church leader, so I need to listen to other church leaders. I need to listen to the sermons of other pastors because that sharpens me and gets me fired up. But I sometimes need to switch gears and listen to someone else. I need to listen to Dean Graziosi, who’s in the real estate and business world, or Ed Mylettwho does a tremendous job challenging people to get outside their comfort zone and strive for excellence.
Pour Into Others
When you feel like you’ve stopped growing, you need to go pour into someone else.
The Dead Sea is dead because water feeds into it but it doesn’t feed out. It’s always receiving and it’s never giving. And because it’s receiving, it fills up with deposits and it doesn’t get rid of anything. The same is true when all we do is receive.
When you feel stuck and you’re willing to go and help somebody else get unstuck, it helps you get unstuck as well.
Try Something New
Take a risk. Try something – anything new. Try something that is outside of your current repertoire. Try using a tool that you’ve never used before.
I’m not talking about doing things that are unnecessarily risky or unwise. But people often say, “change for the sake of change isn’t any good,” and I disagree. Sometimes change for the sake of change is the best thing for you.
Expect Greater Results from Yourself
Ask any athlete or olympian and they will tell you that you must keep pushing towards some next mark. Instead of checking out and avoiding pressure, apply a little pressure to yourself – not in a way that frustrates you with impossible expectations, but in a way that causes you to stretch and give more than you first thought possible.
And know this. If you feel like you’re stuck, you’re not alone. I’m a leader who’s been there many times. And when I’m there and I push on through, when I keep going, when I decide to reject mediocrity and keep pushing for some next level of excellence, I experience breakthrough at some point.
You’ve got to be tenacious. You’ve got to be stubborn. You’ve got to keep going. Because when you stop, you’re going to settle, and you’re not going to get anywhere.
Keep on pressing forward and know that you are not alone.
If you’re leading today, it’s because you’re wired for it. You’re called to it. You influence other people and the world needs you to lead.
The world needs you to grow. Your family needs you to grow. Your friends need you to grow. Your coworkers, the people that you’re leading, need you to grow. You need you to grow.