C-Suite Advisory

Good Growth, Bad Growth

Growth is a necessary part of life. It has been said that if you are not growing, you are dying.

We grow food. We invest money so it will grow. And we want our children to grow into driven, responsible, and successful adults.

Growth is a good thing.

Unless it is not.

Weeds also grow. Debt and deficits grow. And there are all kinds of bad health habits that result in growth as well.

Like anything in life, growth can be good or bad.

Now the good news is, to a large degree, you can usually determine the direction of growth by the actions you take.

There is wisdom in the adage, “Train up a child in the way he should go.”

In this context, it is like training a small tree. When it starts out, it is weak, and even a light wind could knock it over. To prevent this, you plant it at a good depth, and you tie it to a stake to give it strength and support.

This is what being a parent is all about. You give your child solid roots. But that is not enough. For a time, you must tether yourself to that child to provide strength and support.

In my life, my grandmother provided that strength and support. She trained me in the way I should go. When she passed away all too early in my life, she left some very important stakes behind that sustain me to this day.

Often as adults, we forget that we should still be growing and training ourselves in the way we should go.

What stakes do you have in place to support your growth?

Here are some stakes that will help you continue to grow in the right direction.

Stake #1: Values

Values anchor you. When you must make a decision or are faced with a situation, solid values will keep you from becoming uprooted. Furthermore, they will give you a basis for how you design each day. Ask yourself at the end of each day, “Have I lived according to my values?” And as you plan for the next day, week, or month, “How will I live according to my values?”

For example, if good health is a value, what are you doing to promote that value…TODAY? Not next month or next year, but TODAY. If a profitable business is a value, what call or visit are you going to make today? If family is a value, look at your calendar. Is your family on the calendar today?

Stake #2: Habits

If an unsupported tree is battered daily from a strong northwest wind, the tree will be permanently bent. It will grow, but in the wrong direction.

This is why the stake of constant habits is important. This stake provides daily reinforcement against the winds of life. Good habits create a good life. Bad habits can destroy it. Make your habits good ones and apply them daily.

“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”  –

Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Stake #3: Goals

Instead of New Year resolutions, perhaps the question to ask is, “How can I grow this year?”

Consider each area of life: physical, mental, spiritual, vocational, relational, and financial. How can you grow in each area?

Setting these goals and aspirations gives life and work great purpose.

  • How will you grow?
  • How will your relationships grow?
  • How will your business grow?
  • How will your team grow?
  • How will your financial assets grow?

These are targeted questions great leaders ask themselves and others frequently.

The key with goals is to make them specific and measurable. “Someday” is not specific enough. “I should” is a pretty good guarantee that you never will. But if you say, “I will lose ten pounds this month, and here is how I am going to do it and why it is important to me,” your chances of reaching that goal are quite high.

Stake #4: Accountability

Leaders who grow value accountability. They know that being highly accountable to themselves and others increases the likelihood of them forming good habits, reaching goals, and living according to their values.

  • Do you have a solid framework of accountability in your life?
  • Do you have established boundaries that help you know when to say, “Yes,” and when to say, “No?”
  • Do you have a planning system and a way to stay accountable to it?
  • Do you have a trusted coach or mentor who will guide, encourage, and commit to helping you stay on track?
  • Do you have a board of advisors to whom you are accountable in business, even if you are the leader?

The choice is yours. You will grow. The question is, “Will you choose to drive these four stakes deep enough to help you grow in the right direction?”

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Dave Ferguson
Internationally respected and highly experienced executive leadership coach, speaker and author. Check Dave out at LivingToLead.com. Dave is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.