True story, I swear.  It was nearly midnight.  My husband and I were supposed to be heading to bed and where was he instead?

He’s stomping around our backyard wearing only boxer briefs and flip-flops, waving a flashlight, and muttering under his breath.

This is clearly NOT something he’d ordinarily be doing (and thank God that privacy fences are a thing).

Meanwhile, I’m standing on our deck, holding my breath, and praying that I’m not going to see a very bad thing happen right in front of my eyes.

Why all the drama in the middle of the night, you ask?

… because our dog was “locked into” a goal.

Buckingham is an American Brittany and he is totally adorable, but he’s also a hunting breed, and specifically, a pointing breed. This means that it is completely instinctive for him to go “on point” when he picks up the scent of prey.  He literally locks into position and he will not move.

A few minutes before this whole stomping around the backyard incident happened, I let Buckingham outside one last time for bed… and he locks in.

Uh oh… probably a bunny, I think to myself.  So, I head out into the yard, clapping my hands and yelling, “Go away, bunny!  Go away, bunny!”  Usually, this is enough to make an adult bunny flee away.

Not this time.  Buckingham remains locked in.

I tug gently on his collar. I try, “Leave It”.  Nope, not working.  Locked in.

So, I go back into the house where my husband is nearly ready for bed and I tell him that I think maybe Buckingham is locked in on a nest of baby bunnies.  We’ve had this problem before.  Baby bunnies just hunker down.  They don’t run.  It’s too dark for me to see what Buckingham is so locked in on.

So, THAT is why my husband was stomping around the yard.

He’s trying to figure out what Buckingham is so locked in on.

He sees nothing.  Well, he sees a leaf, but surely that can’t be it, right?

“It’s a leaf, Buck!”

Nope, still locked in.

Finally, my husband has to squeeze himself into the muddy space between the shed and the fence to pull out the leaf before Buckingham FINALLY relents and breaks the point. He prances away leaving my husband standing there in his boxer briefs and flip-flops, holding a leaf.

By this time, I’ve realized that the threat of bunny carnage is over and I am laughing so hard, I am literally holding my belly with tears rolling down my face.  I haven’t laughed that hard in eons.  (Someday, my husband will see how funny it was too… but it’s still too soon.)

So, how does any of this relate to running a membership?

Like Buckingham, there are times that each of us can get “locked in” on specific ideas or goals.

  • It may be a product or program that you thought would work (but isn’t really).
  • It may be a specific technology that you love (but people aren’t adapting to it).
  • It may be performance metrics that seemed within reach (but you can’t seem to get there).

Sometimes we need to recognize that we’re locked into something that isn’t really turning out to be what we thought.  It’s just a leaf.

When I’m teaching people about membership design, I always say that there’s only one thing to get locked in on… and that is helping members get what they want.

Exactly how you do that can be completely flexible. You don’t have to be locked into a specific content structure, a specific technology, or a specific price point.

Being able to flex and pivot in response to what’s working for members will serve you well.

Plus, you don’t have to worry that you’ve wasted time and resources being locked in on what turns out to be just a leaf.

Chime in with your comments below… I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Joy Duling is Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.  Since 2005, Joy and her team have helped associations, trade groups and membership-based nonprofits run their programs more easily and deliver exceptional member care.

You can find FREE tools, tips and training to help you run and grow your membership organization in The Joy of Membership Help Hub.




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