Have you ever done something that makes you feel like you’re moving in the wrong direction? And is that direction ever backward?
I recently felt this pit-in-my-stomach feeling as my wife and I moved our 1,400 square foot home in suburbia to a 752 square foot, one-bedroom apartment in the bustling city. After discussing all of our dreams and ambitions about buying a home, starting a family and being deep in a community where we thrived, we were trading it all in for something less. This felt ludicrous.
Do you ever feel like you are headed in a similar direction?
Wading into the workforce in 2012, the unemployment rate was still significantly high and jobs were scarce. As I turned my tassel and tossed my cap to the sky, I can remember the uneasy feeling. We were literally leaving college with everyone telling us “just get a job, and figure the rest out later.” All the ambitious hopes of a new adult get shattered when we consider that a worthy mentality. People with successful careers probably had to doggie paddle at some point too, but was it this challenging for them?
The first job I took out of college was working at a bank on the teller line. You may be asking yourself: What is a teller? Who goes to the bank anymore? Don’t you just deposit checks with iPhones now? My mom made a career out of banking. I can honestly say I was never interested in anything bank-related unless it included free lollipops or pushing the button that sends the tube through the drive thru tunnel. But in light of those things, I chose to take a paycheck and had to courageously consider how to love my job each day.
Did I really spend all my efforts on a social sciences degree to then become a bank teller? (The question all millennials are asking these days.)
We know that for a plant to continue a healthy progression of growth, it must be pruned back. Without pruning the plant, it will go season after season without reaching its full potential. To grow a business or our careers, we must prune in a similar way. Finding the right team members. Cutting budgets. Letting go of old concepts to make room for new ones. How about taking a pay cut so you can pursue a passion? Or relocating your job to put your kids in better schools? All of these things are the necessary, albeit difficult, choices that we must make in order to progress onward. Grow. Prune. Grow.
When we moved into our apartment, I knew for sure that this was just part of my story. And maybe it’s all of our stories.
Growth takes action.
It’s a choice. If you want to experience growth, do not sit idly and wait for opportunities to come to you. Sure, that happens to some of us when we are patient or least expect it, but I would venture to say that the majority of people experiencing significant growth have had a hand in making it happen. One of my favorite ways to tangibly track my pattern of growth is through journaling. I was first a student, then banker, manager and now husband. Be sure to document everything that you can and revisit your progress often, after all, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm” (Emerson). I know that I will look back on my “backwards” journey in a few years and have a good laugh.
Growth takes hope.
You can anticipate your development all day long, but you cannot predict the future. Growth happens when we have a clear direction in mind even though the final outcome remains a little hazy. For me, watching our business grow at Roam has been a great example of this. Last May we opened our third workplace, Roam Galleria. All of our talent and resources were made possible because of the growth achieved before us. While we opened with great anticipation of what was to come, we could only hope for what we could not immediately see. The results continue to blow us away as we consider the possibilities of what can be accomplished here at Galleria, not to mention Roam as a whole. So keep your eyes and ears peeled because growth is happening, and our job is to notice it.
Growth takes time.
Humility is key to healthy growth. As Stephen R. Covey reminds us in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender. There’s no greater investment.” Sometimes our growth is experienced slowly, and it takes a continuous expense of time and energy to see a tender process through. Take Chick-fil-A for example. In 70 years of business and 30 years of building franchise restaurants, the organization has expanded to over 2,000 units nationally. In a comparable amount of time, McDonald’s has built more than 36,000 units globally and is the world’s second-largest private employer behind Wal-Mart. Rather than expanding more competitively, Chick-fil-A’s slow growth allowed them to intentionally develop the founding bloodline’s desire of a remarkable corporate culture. In a lot of ways, growth is a product of humble beginnings that don’t get lost in success along the way.
In order to get where we are going, we’ve often got to go somewhere else first. That place may even be behind us. So when we are looking in from the outside of success, remember that it takes action, hope and time to see progress. And hopefully when we are on the other side of our journey, we will look back and be encouraged by the growth we experienced along the way.