Sustainable Growth Creates Joy

Joy is an uncomplicated word.  It’s the feeling of goodness that comes from being fully alive.  And it can be present regardless of circumstances – pain or pleasure.  Wouldn’t it be cool to create joy all over the place – at home, at work, in the community and in ourselves?  One way is through lasting growth and development.

Joy bumper sticker on a dirty car

Joy bumper sticker on a dirty car

Last week, our company collectively declared that we would pursue “sustainable revenue growth because sustainable growth creates joy”.  This is a big deal for us for two reasons: 1) our brand is 100 years old in a low-growth industry and 2) we are a project and enrollment-based organization, which means we have to re-load most of our work each year.  Many view training as transactional and episodic – knowledge to receive once and move on – as opposed to the consistent application of learning as circumstances change. This causes many people to jump from book to book, seminar to seminar or theory to theory without fully realizing value.  It’s the culture of the quick fix.  And being on either side of the transaction can feel empty.  So as an organization, we are putting exponentially more energy into clients who really want to create sustainable growth.  We are improving our ability to diagnose the deeper barriers to growth and recommending more comprehensive solutions that really improve outcomes.  And we are making bold investments in people and technology.  I am increasingly aware that sustainable growth is not glamorous and might be painful – but it creates joy.

Here’s why:

1. Resisting a quick fix produces happiness.  Researchers at Stanford University studied children who were told that, if they waited 15 minutes to eat a marshmallow, they would get a second marshmallow.  Most of the kids couldn’t wait.  The ones who did were found later in life to have higher test scores, make more money and be less likely to be involved in crime than the kids who couldn’t wait.  This video highlights the relevance of this concept for our society – like how sustainable economic development has accounted for a precipitous decline in poverty.

2. Personal growth brings joy.  We were built to grow and create.  Health clubs, therapists and financial advisors thrive when they can help people improve themselves each year.  The day that we lose our desire to grow is the day we’ve lost our dignity and self-respect.  As my Dad says, “You’re either growing or you’re dying.”  Triumph, innovation and improvement, especially when accomplished with others, affirm our value.

3. Growth is a good measure of organizational value.  It’s convenient to blame the economy, politics or other external factors for a decline in growth.  The reality usually is that organizations grow when their offering matches the market.  I just met with a friend today who is retiring after leading his company to double-digit growth over the past three years in a low growth industry.  I felt his joy as he talked about the impact they had made for their clients.  I realized that organizations grow when they matter.  And being relevant feels really good.

How could growth create joy for you this year?



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