The Art of Revival

Revival - AFC Wimbledon

A tough truth

Every time we’re challenged, we need to find a way to carry on fighting. Every time our organisation falters, we need to keep it moving forward. Every time we fail, we need to dust ourselves off and start all over again. And there’s an art to it.

Life is a never ending process of beginnings, endings and renewals. That’s a tough truth to take. Why can’t we just do things once and be successful? But it is the truth and we have to adapt to that. In fact we need to embrace it. Instead of pain, we need to think of revival.

“I try to run, and I grow weary, I try to walk, and I grow faint.
Oh, I long to soar, on the wings like an eagle,
but I look down, and I’m afraid. I’m afraid”

from Gregory Porter’s ‘Revival Song’

How do we begin a revival?

An act of re-starting can mean repeating, re-energising or re-inventing. So, each time we have to go again, we have choices to make. Do we try the exactly same thing and just try harder? Do we keep the core fundamentals but tweak our plan somehow? Or do we change our philosophy or strategy completely? The answer is of course, ‘It depends’.

To find out the right course of action, we need to go back to the beginning. What were we trying to achieve and why? Reminding ourselves what our purpose is can bring that inspiration to the fore. Reminding ourselves who we’re making these efforts for is another way of lifting our spirits.

Finding the inspiration to re-start is hard. But if we find it, we can renew our efforts with even more focus, energy and success. Find your motivation in the form of your purpose and your people.

“But you lift me higher, out of the fire, out of the flames.
I lost the feeling, but you give me meaning again.
I’m singing Revival. Revival song”

from Gregory Porter’s ‘Revival Song’

Backwards and Forwards

Our past is more powerful than we think. Your past can power your present and your future. An organisation’s heritage can power it’s future success.

Look back for inspiration. Look forwards to plan. Look back to check. And then look forwards to go.

AFC Wimbledon

In 2003, Wimbledon FC was relocated from Plough Lane in Wimbledon, to a new ground sixty miles away in Milton Keynes.

Why would that happen? In a word, money. The club said that it would go out out of business otherwise, but surely alternative investors could have been sought?

Many of the club’s supporters were devastated. Their club had been ripped out of their community. The heartbreak affected generations of supporters.

The renamed Milton Keynes Dons were set up for success, on the back of the Wimbledon heritage. There was a nice new ground waiting for them to play in. They could move forwards, without a backwards look. In fact, in 2007, MK Dons renounced the old Wimbledon FC heritage.

The truth is that MK Dons couldn’t use it. Too much had changed. You can’t own something that doesn’t belong to your tribe.

Out of the Wimbledon FC heritage a phoenix rose from the ashes. The new football club was called AFC Wimbledon. It began life in relative football obscurity, playing in the Premier Division of the Combined Counties League. That’s the ninth tier of the football league. Would the club ever make it back into the football league again?

After six promotions, the club now plays in League One (the third tier of English football). After building a brand new ground, the club now has returned to its spiritual homeland on Plough Lane. The Wombles are back in Wimbledon. It’s a story full of inspiration and purpose.


If AFC Wimbledon can re-start everything from scratch, anyone can. Why can’t you and your organisation refresh your offering and go again? Look forwards to plan. Look back to your heritage for inspiration. Look forward to go.