How to Turn the Corner Away From “We’ve Tried That Before”

The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.

Titus 1:5

Sitting in that meeting, Darcy knew something was off. The leader of the group had made a decision she didn’t agree with; And then she did something brave. Darcy raised her hand and asked about a possible solution. Silence. It just doesn’t happen at this organization—the offering of another solution once this leader had made the decision. “Thanks, Darcy, but we tried that before. It didn’t work the first time, but thanks for staying on the path with us.” End of discussion.

Darcy left that meeting knowing that her friend, Michelle, was right around the corner, ready for a walk. Darcy would be able to share her insights then. At least her nagging thoughts would be out of her system.

On their walk, Darcy described the problem the team was trying to solve, how it seemed that they got ahead of them, and this cliff that they were about to walk off that only Darcy seemed to see with clarity. Michelle agreed the culture at their organization lacked the possibility of new solutions. “Let’s be real, Darcy, the motto here is, ‘That’s the way we’ve always done it because we tried that and failed before.’ I hear it a lot for every time there could be a new and better solution.” The two took a left turn in their walk. Michelle continued, “So, how are the kids?”

This story may sound familiar to you. Change in an organization is hard, and when it’s one steeped in tradition or experiencing a bit of Founder’s Syndrome, it’s even more difficult to see past “That’s the way we’ve always done it” as the prevailing method.

Traditions can help an organization to thrive. The repeat of a habit removes the constant decision-making that would wear any leader down. Yet, there’s a time to leave it in the hands of the next generation—whether that be someone younger in years or someone newer to the organization. In today’s verse, Paul left the next generation leader—Titus in this case—to push the mission forward. Perhaps there was a training period, a time to pass along institutional knowledge. But sooner or later, Titus as the new leader, needed space to test out the wings to finish the mission.

If you catch yourself or someone else saying, “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” that’s the moment to pause. Evaluate. Determine if there’s space for the business left unfinished to perhaps be conquered through a different means. That frees you to focus on something else, like a new path of innovation you’ve been wanting to walk down. “Leave” and allow a new leader to have a spark of an idea that charts their course. You won’t regret the turn toward a different path.

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Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

One comment

  1. “That’s the way we’ve always done it” is one of my husband’s least favorite answers. To him, it’s irritating if there’s not a logical explanation for why people are doing things the way they are. As you said, tradition can be good, but hopefully it doesn’t make us blind.

    Like

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