Why cooperative movements should shoot for the moon.

Guest Blog Post Written by Jim Struble

What inspires you? If you can’t answer that, it’s time to take a rain check on whatever it is you’re doing (after reading this article of course) and find out. Being inspired is one of the most beautiful things about being human… right up there with being in love, having children, and crispy french fries. I coach each of my 70+ credit union employees one-on-one about becoming inspired about where their future can take them. We all should shoot for the moon when it comes to our future, but not everyone understands how to do so.

It starts with being able to envision what milestone you want to reach in your life. This milestone can’t be something that is within your grasp today. It should be a milestone that is only reached if things “go right” in your life. If doors are opened along the way and multiple achievements allow you the success to reach that milestone. It should require you to live a directed life to achieve it! When I meet one-on-one with employees, we discuss strategies to help them envision what that milestone might be. For some the strategy is going for a run, others it is reading biographies, listening to music, or watching superhero movies. Some have inspiration strike when they are cooking, or when they are taking a long drive. Whatever it may be, step one in finding what inspires you is to find out what activity allows your brain to snap out of everyday thinking and shoot for the moon.

I’ve always been one to shoot for the moon in my thinking. What inspires me to think big is music. Grand sweeping soundtrack scores have had me dreaming of changing the world since I was in high school. If you’re going to dream, might as well dream big! (It isn’t like you’re going to write about it on a blog some day and anyone who reads it will know how unrealistic you tend to dream. Oh wait…) Dreaming big helped me set professional goals in my life such as, “VP by 33” and “CEO by Four-O.” Both of which, by the way, I achieved either on time or ahead of schedule.

Most organizations apply ‘shooting the moon’ to themselves in the form of a Vision Statement. Unfortunately, most of these organizations have only a handful of people who know what it is. The best, most successful, organizations permeate this thinking to each employee. An example is the often-told story of JFK visiting a NASA hangar and asking a man mopping the floor what his role at NASA was. He replied, “Mr. President, I’m putting a man on the moon.” Pretty impressive!

Now take a second to imagine an organization that instead strives to reach each employee’s vision… and in turn asks each employee to strive to reach each of his or her customer’s vision. Just imagine what that would be like! This is an organization I’ve envisioned for some time. I like to call it Electro Savings Credit Union.

In my role I hear employee visions that range from “I want to become the CEO of a credit union” to “I want to raise a family in Colorado” (we’re based in Missouri by the way), and we strive to find ways to support them all. My team hears our customers’ (we call them members in a credit union) visions that range from “I want to buy this car to get to work” to “I want to stop living paycheck to paycheck.” We strive to support each of these visions too.

As an organization we should shoot for the moon for our customers, as individuals we should shoot for the moon for ourselves, and as a cooperative we should support them all. This is the essence of why a credit union as a cooperative is different from a bank. Credit unions are not beholden to a small group of stockholders’ visions of profit, but instead to the visions of the members of the cooperative… both employees and customers.

As credit unions continue to strive towards standing out to consumers when compared to local and national banking alternatives, we should dream big. Our cooperative spirit and roots provide us the leeway to envision something more than profits. It gives us the flexibility and ability to (cue the soundtrack score) change the world one credit union member and one team member at a time. So, I encourage you to dream big and shoot for the moon!