Whenever I think of the term “crossroads,” I think about the final scene in the Tom Hanks’ movie “Cast Away.” Those of you who have seen the film will remember that after being trapped on an island after a plane crash, Hanks’ character, Chuck Noland is finally rescued and returns to his life in Memphis. When he arrives, he learns that his fiancée (whom he hasn’t seen in years) has married and has a child. Noland was declared legally dead after being missing for so long. Chuck is left at a “crossroads” – 2 intersecting roads (paths) which go in all 4 directions. The movie ends with Noland standing smack in the middle contemplating his next move.
OK – so this isn’t a movie review but I think that the final scene in “Cast Away” provides a pretty good image (metaphorically speaking) of what I want to write about in this post.
It’s no secret that the credit union industry has benefited from the “hiccups” that big banks are experiencing. Overall membership is up and last quarter’s industry financials were some of the best ever reported. When an organization experiences this kind of growth (or stagnation,) it often finds itself at a crossroads. Credit unions are no different.
Since our industry is ever-evolving, credit unions must continue to improve and create additional value. Let’s compare this to a personal crossroads that you may have experienced in your life – you may have felt anxious, unsure, apprehensive, excited, nervous, elated, etc. all at the same time! For many credit unions, there is certainly that crossroads-type of feeling. Through my discussions with credit union leaders and executives, I find myself suggesting that they start asking some challenging questions. Too often, management personnel (at all levels) find themselves dealing with minutia and nonsense instead of strategizing, planning, and thinking. Here are some examples of the crossroads questions that I encourage my clients to ask:
Where are we going as an organization? Who do we want to serve? Who are we and are we effectively communicating our brand? Do we need to re-brand ourselves to create more awareness in the communities we serve? What are we willing to risk? What are we not willing to give up or change? Do we have the proper infrastructure in place for what we want to achieve? Do we have top-notch talent working at our organization? Can we make tough decisions regarding non-productive employees? What are the things that are holding us back? Are we committed to fixing what is broken and improving upon what is not? Are we fully committed to the steps that we have decided to take?
Being at a crossroads can seem overwhelming and rightly so. But one of the truest measures of personal, organizational, or professional success is this: when you find yourselves at a crossroads, will you have the fortitude to ask tough questions….and will you have the courage to answer them?