Are You In Decline?
Jim Collins provides ways for us to answer this question concerning our businesses in his book, “How The Mighty Fall”. I would suggest however we ask it about all things in our lives. Is your company in decline? Is your career in decline? Is your marriage in decline? Is your commitment to core values in decline? Is your faith in decline? The book provides a way to know where we may be in our state of decline, and how good leadership and discipline can help us recover.
Collins studied numerous companies and how they fell from greatness. In his study he found five stages of decline that were common to all these companies.
Stages of decline:
Stage 1: Hubris born of success
Stage 2: The undisciplined pursuit of more
Stage 3: Denial of risk and peril
Stage 4: Grasping for Salvation
Stage 5: Capitulation to irrelevance or death
I hope in just seconds you can see the relationship of these stages to various aspects in our lives. Comfort and familiarity is a form of hubris. The undisciplined pursuit of more of the wrong things can destroy a family. The denial of where our actions may lead. The realization that areas of our lives are falling apart may be to late to throw a Hail-Mary. And I can’t count on my digits the numbers of families I’ve seen capitulate to divorce, or exhaustion from trying.
A marriage is either growing or it is failing. If you think your marriage is consistent and ok, it is in decline. As with our careers, we must be putting in a disciplined effort. There are in our families and work ways to bring about solid growth and success. “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Anna Karenina.Tolstoy
“Solutions to decline do not lie in the simple bromide, Change or die,“ How The Mighty Fall, Jim Collins, Pg.11. Solutions to decline lie in a return to proven practice and efforts. Communication that seeks understanding and then acts upon the knowledge gained. Concerning successful leaders Collins writes, “Like inquisitive scientist, the best corporate leaders we’ve researched remain students of their work, relentlessly asking questions, why, why, why? – and have an incurable compulsion to vacuum the brains of the people they meet.” How The Mighty Fall, Jim Collins, Pg. 39
I encourage you to read the book and begin to ask questions about the many areas of your life as to whether you are growing or falling.
As we look at our businesses and our lives we must seek the right kind of growth. “The greatest leaders do seek growth – growth in performance, growth in distinctive impact, growth in creativity, growth in people – but they do not succumb to growth that undermines long-term value.” How The Mighty Fall, Jim Collins, Pg. 54 One additional quote form the book that can relate to leading in our marriages and families, “The best leaders we studied had a peculiar genius for seeing themselves as not all that important, recognizing the need to build an executive team and to craft a culture based on core values that do not depend upon a single heroic leader.” How The Mighty Fall, Jim Collins, Pg.62
So as we fight the dragons in our careers we must also fight for our spouse, children and friends even in the face of insurmountable odds.
“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” How The Mighty Fall, Jim Collins, Pg. 116
He ends the book with a quote from Winston Churchill that we again can apply across all areas of life: “This the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never, in nothing, great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy – Winston Churchill” How The Mighty Fall, Jim Collins, Pg.123
Pick up the book and give it a read. It’s short and concise.