Growing, Anyone?

People stay where they grow.
Seth Godin

I heard this quote from marketing guru Seth Godin while listening to a podcast as I was driving home from an inspection the other day. During the conversation, the host was asking Seth his opinion on the current situation in employment, where it seems almost impossible to keep an employee around. While trouble keeping employees is a common refrain in the business world right now, as he always seems to do, Seth brought it down to something more basic and personal than MBA’s and payroll.

listening to business podcast to get better at home inspection

“People stay where they grow.” It’s so simple, it’s hard to believe, but if an employee is challenged, if we are challenged in our job, we’re likely to stick around for the long haul.

Keep me interested, and you’ve got my attention. Hard to think about something else when someone or something’s got our attention. Let me lag, running in circles without even having to turn on my brain and think, and I’m pretty soon thinking about something a bit more mentally challenging.

It’s impossible to lag behind if you’re constantly moving forward.

But Seth’s advice, as it so often is, isn’t limited to the world of enterprise. Following his recommendation to continue growing works not only in our business lives, but in our social and personal lives as well. Yes, we tend to stick around a job that never gets old, but we also maintain friendships that grow and mature, we remain in marriages that are constantly evolving, and we’re happier with ourselves when we’re growing as a person.

So, if this is so great like Seth says, why aren’t we all constantly growing, challenging ourselves every moment of every day? It seems like everyone would want to be happier and better as a person. What could be standing in the way of our happiness; what’s the reason why we’re not there already?

Because it’s hard; that’s why. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. If it was easy, people like Seth Godin wouldn’t be talking about it. If it was easy, I wouldn’t be writing, and you wouldn’t be reading, this. We’d already be getting it done.

But it is hard. It takes work. It’s much easier to lay back on the couch, binging another series. It takes a bit more effort to keep the spark in a marriage. Planning outings, taking trips, spending time relaxing and talking, working on the relationship, all that stuff is hard. And that’s why most of us don’t do it.

We’d all love the results; we just don’t want to put in the work.

That’s the trick, really. Deciding to put in the work. Some people figure it out. Some people manage to do it. There are some people who stay at their jobs, not because they have to, but because they want to. There are some people who manage to stay married, even though it’s a difficult thing to do. There are some who have wonderful and fulfilling friendships, even though they’ve had to work through some rough patches along the way.

Some people figure it out. Why can’t we?

Yes, most of us are happier in a job that is constantly challenging us, forcing us to grow and adapt. Putting the same widget in the same slot, over and over, every day has got to be slow torture. So, how do we make this happen?

How do we do it?

We’re growing, how come we’re not experiencing all these great things ourselves?

We’ve figured out that growth is good, but are we waiting around for someone else to force our hand? Do we only experience growth when it’s thrust upon us? Yes, we go to those classes that we’re forced to attend, but do we go looking for other ways to improve our skills? Yes, we send all the requisite gifts to our significant other when we’re supposed to (birthday, holidays, etc.), but do we ever go out of our way to do something unexpected for them? Do we take time out of our busy schedule to reach out to our friends and family, just to touch base and say hello? Sure, we’re wonderful when we’re together, but do we take that extra step to make it happen?

Just like the growth that happens in other parts of our lives needs demands effort, the growth of our business does too. There are plenty of people out there binging one more series. There are not too many of them taking that extra step that we know is necessary to grow.

People stay where they grow, but people are also destined to stay where they are, unless they put in the extra effort needed to grow.

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Thanks, Joe

pic of me, Joseph Cook Jr, home inspector