Sometimes You Have To Break What’s Not Broken

Jul 29, 2020 | Growth

Tara McMullin is a writer, podcaster, and producer who explores what it takes to navigate the 21st-century economy with your humanity intact. Click here to support this work.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes “break” things just to have something to do.

Everything is going along nicely but, instead of accepting the good for what it is, I pick a fight or cause a problem or just generally create drama for the sake of novelty.

Other times, I just can’t let well enough alone. I can always see a new tweak or update that could be made and I convince myself that I can’t rest until I’ve improved it.

I’m really trying to reprogram these patterns.


Sometimes we have to break the things that really are working in order to build what’s next.

Here’s what I mean:

You’ve been running your business for a while and things are humming long—you’re making money, you’re finding customers, and you’re generally not wanting to pull out your hair at the end of every day. But despite your best efforts, you can’t seem to grow it more than a little here or a little there.

In fact, maybe you’re actually getting close to that hair-pulling stage because you find yourself working harder & harder to grow but you’re just not seeing the results.

It can seem like something is broken in this scenario. You should be able to grow the business, right?

But the business isn’t broken.

The business is working just as it was designed to work.

Even if you didn’t design it on purpose, the result is the same. The revenue you’re generating, the customers you’re attracting, the systems you’re operating with are all a product of a design that is working.

It’s just not working the way you want it to work.

You can’t just fix it. There’s nothing to fix.

You have to break it first.

You have to redesign the business to produce the new results you’re looking for.

Now, this is risky. Like really risky. Whenever you break something that’s working, you risk not being able to put it back together in a way that works again.

So if you’re going to break what’s working, you better be darn sure that you want that new result so much that you’re willing to risk giving up what’s working now.

I’m not trying to scare you. Really, I’m trying to psych you up! Even if you’re not ready to break things now, I want you to want the next step, the next stage, the next bridge to fully realizing your vision and furthering your mission.

What I mean is that breaking what’s working can’t just be about making a little more money or taking a little more time off. Breaking what’s working needs to be about building out the next phase of your business (and probably your life & leadership, too).

To figure out what to break (and then how to fix it with a new design for your business), you need to start with your end goal in mind—not just “a little more” than what you have now.

I won’t pretend to know what you dream about when you think of the future of your business. I am regularly surprised by the creative, bold, and even world-changing ideas people have for what they’re ultimately trying to build. And I know that you might not even tell me if I asked (you might not have told anyone yet).

But start there. 

Start with the vision that feels bigger and bolder than you’ll admit to anyone. Starting designing that business today.

And then get ready to break things.

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