Good Things Grow

For many years, I thanked “good luck” for the fact that my business had been successful and slowly growing — with little to no effort on marketing or other business generation efforts. We did great work, we were nice, we were fair — and people recommended us. We competed for work, wrote honest and well written proposals, had inspiring meetings with prospective clients, and kept winning new work. When people called or wrote, we responded quickly. Rinse. Repeat.

In 2012–2013, I started to question where we wanted it to go. I never wanted to grow for growth’s sake, or to impress some imaginary business judgement audience watching from the wings. Employee numbers did not impact my ego. In fact, I often cringed at the idea of growth, having seen so many others before me build their businesses unsuccessfully. But I kept thinking to myself that good things grow.

Spring is a perfect time of year to write about growth, as I’m a witness to it everywhere around me. I’m aware of which trees are exploding with leaves and blossoms, which flowers are bursting from the soil, and also where things are starting to decline. Not everything emerges from winter’s sleep with the same vitality.

The things that are healthy, have ample access to raw materials they need, and aren’t being negatively impacted by competing entities — are thriving. The daffodils seem single minded in their determination to open and show the sun their own yellows and whites. The weeping cherries sway boldly in the breezes, keeping the curtains parted on their performance. The birds, deer and foxes are more frequent visitors, as they busy themselves finding food and making nests and dens for expanding families.

Yet behind all the life, I’m keenly aware of the decay and death. Entropy works its relentless chaos into the 100 foot black oak tree, and it begins to crack and drop giant warped branches. The chickens destroy the fragile unfurling fern branches as they scratch for bugs and worms. The ground is littered with reminders of what didn’t make it, what stopped growing, what has become part of a different process.

Good things grow. Life is sustained by fighting for survival. Expanding families require more work. More work ensures the families thrive. Things that thrive are healthy. Healthy things win out over less healthy things. Darwin drops the mic.

These thoughts cycle through my mind on a constant loop, and I remind myself that I’m making a choice with every decision and action. Am I choosing to grow and thrive? Am I seeing positive growth as outcomes of my work? Am I building something that will be successful? I’m not sure exactly how I tie all these things together in my mind when I’m grappling with difficult decisions at work or in my life. But I do find reinforcement and fortitude in the conviction that good things grow.

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