A Hidden Key To Success

Golden key in keyhole

There are so many books and articles available that will give you this key or that key for success. Many of them are excellent resources and provide great information that can help you move forward. Within all of these you will find some consistent principles and similarities. Every now and then, something will stand out as different.

Recently, my pastor and I were traveling while he spoke at a university. During our time together, we were analyzing the success of our church and breaking down the recent growth we have experienced. At a time when churches are typically plateaued or declining, our church has grown 35% consistently for the past 3+ years. In fact, we have grown 44% in 6 months.

We are often asked what we attribute this growth to. Our answers have varied as there are many factors to growth and they all play a part in it. However, in our conversations he said something that resonated with both of us. We have since spent time talking it through and looking at it and have settled on the fact that this is a major key to our success and growth to date. It’s not the only factor by any means, but it is an important one.

This is the statement he made that set us on this path of discovery.

“We take problems and we bludgeon them to death!”

Pastor Greg Ford

We have four cultural behaviors that are non-negotiable in our organization. One of these plays right into this statement and is one of the primary reasons we are having the success that we are having.

That cultural behavior is HONEST EVALUATION.

With this behavior we say that we have two superpowers: we are approachable and we are unoffendable.

By taking on these two characteristics we open ourselves up to constant feedback and the ability to improve everything all the time.

It takes thick skin and a trust in one another as we live this out fully. There is no question to that. However, it is also a mindset that even if someone is just being critical, there may still be something we can learn and improve through the process.

By taking on an approachable posture, it gives us the ability to receive feedback from any one at any time. It means we are open and receptive. In fact, it means we mine for feedback, seek it out.

Choosing to be unoffendable is not always easy, for sure. However, if the other person is not trying to offend me, why should I get offended? If they are trying to offend me, then they are a jerk. The punishment for being a jerk is that they don’t get to offend me.

We don’t just approach problems this way. We approach everything this way.

The importance of never settling and never getting comfortable with what we do cannot be overemphasized. The moment an organization settles for what is or gets comfortable with where they are and what they have accomplished is the moment they stop growing.

Nothing is perfect. Everything can be improved.

Giving and receiving honest evaluation brings improvement. It solves problems.

Too often, this key to success gets missed. It’s not glamorous. It sometimes hurts. It is difficult. It requires maturity. It works best in trust.

Every meeting, every product launch, every presentation, every event, every initiative can be improved. Every one of these should be evaluated before, during, and after. The feedback can come from anyone involved and should include a variety of people.

As an example, our pastor is an incredible communicator. Yet, every week, he presents his prepared message to our staff. It is open to anyone on staff regardless of position on the org chart. We have a variety of age, background, and experience on our staff. Whether it is the 19 year old intern or a senior member of the team, all feedback is listened to and the best ideas and input get incorporated into the message. His messages continue to get better and better because of this behavior.

After every event and initiative we pick it apart to figure out what went well and what could be better.

When a problem arises, we are ready for it and go after it with sledgehammers. Problems are not allowed to remain. We believe our work is too important to let anything derail or slow down our progress. It is important enough for us to set aside egos and fears and insecurities and honestly evaluate everything we do all the time.

What is a missed key to success? Honest evaluation. Bludgeon every problem to death.


  1. You nailed it again. I admire your ability to think it communicate on an intellectual yet practical level.

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