23 Sep #035 – Faith As Usual – Interimize
We have explored the five common Placebos of what we call faith as usual that can lead well intentioned leaders to stumble down faith as usual Side Roads in their effort to integrate their faith and their work. After Agonizing, Individualizing, Monetizing, Cosmeticizing and Prosperitizing, the final of the six Side Roads is Interimizing. Side Roads represent responses to Placebos advertised as the red pill that we believe actually miss the ancient path of business a better way.
We have said that Side Roads are not inherently bad–in fact, they are better than doing nothing at all. They are just not transformative and can lull the leader into believing they are on the ancient path when they are missing deeper purpose for the organization, deeper calling for themselves and deeper flourishing for their people. Interimizing is different, because it is about doing nothing at all.
Interimizing is the Side Road that flows from The “Success First” Pill–it is putting off “doing right” until the business is “doing well”. It is also unique because a leader detoured on the Interimizing Side Road feels justified in doing nothing about faith/work integration even though he or she may have a deep faith and a strong commitment to faith/work integration.
As you hopefully recall from a prior post, the Placebo of The “Success First” Pill says that getting the organization up and running and successful is the first priority–faith/work integration can come later. While the Side Roads of Agonizing, Individualizing, Monetizing, Cosmeticizing and Prosperitizing involve misses as to the WHAT, HOW and WHY of faith/work integration, what makes the Side Road of Interimizing unique is that it is related solely to a misguided “WHEN”.
Seth Godin wrote a blog post in August 2015 that he called “The Interim Strategy” (we recommend that any leader committed to faith/work integration read the whole thing, several times). In it, he captured what we call Interimizing–in fact, his post inspired the recognition and naming of this Side Road. In his words:
This interim strategy, the notion that ideals and principles are for later, but right now, all the focus and resources have to be put into the emergency of getting successful—it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because it’s always the interim. It never seems like the right time to stop doing what worked and start doing what we said was important.
It never seems like the right time to stop doing what worked and start doing what we said was important. (Seth Godin)
As we have emphasized in prior posts, the risks of relying on a Placebo and stumbling down a Side Road include:
- Missed purpose for the organization
- Missed calling for its leaders
- Missed flourishing of its people
A leader that swallows The “Success First” Pill and adopts an “interim strategy”–Interimizing–may never get around to faith/work integration. Even more pernicious than Seth Godin’s analysis that it “never seems like the right time to stop doing what worked”, the very nature of The “Success First” Pill implies that the “significance” which comes through faith/work integration is incompatible with achieving “success”. This is because, at its core, Interimizing exalts a worldly concept of “success” (profit) over a Biblical concept of “success” (human flourishing)–it embodies Profit as Purpose. As Seth Godin observed, “Exactly how successful do we have to get before we stop cutting corners, making selfish decisions and playing the short-term game?”
Although we have described Interimizing as a Side Road that can keep a leader from ever pursuing transcendent principles in their organization, Interimizing may also appear when a leader feels the need to abandon their principles in the face of challenging circumstances that threaten to negatively impact the “success” of the organization. The “Success First” Pill can have an impact even on a leader who thought they had the “success” box checked off. Once again, Seth Godin shared some wisdom on this phenomenon in March 2020 (in a post called “I’ll go with my principles tomorrow“:
In the short run, it’s easy to abandon what we believe. Deep down, we assume that once things go back to normal, so will we. . . . When we make a “just this once” exception, we’ve already made a decision about what’s truly important. . . . Few people decide to be selfish for the long haul. What makes it a principle is that we do it now, even though (especially though) it’s hard.
PERSONAL FOOTNOTE (from PM): I carry Seth Godin’s “The Interim Strategy” as a note in my iPhone. I have pulled it out on numerous occasions to read to leaders, particularly entrepreneurs. It has never failed to elicit a “Please send that to me!” response. It has prompted some to remember and revisit the “WHY” they originally had for their organization. I now also carry “I’ll go with my principles tomorrow“–in the words of Thomas Paine, “These are the times that try mens souls.”