7 Ways We Stunt Our Growth

April 9, 2013

Is your growth, or the growth of your organization, stunted? Do you feel like your mission is paralyzed? Does everything feel static and uninspired?

Maybe your growth hit a rocky patch, causing you to feel withered or choked out. Maybe you just feel stuck in one of these areas of your life: spiritually, emotionally, financially, organizationally or relationally. You woke up one morning and realized nothing is changing for the better, and nothing has changed for a while.

There are some clear warning signals we send out when we’re stuck. I’ve seen these in my own life and leadership and offer them in the hope they may help you get unstuck. See if any of the seven following pitfalls are true of your current situation.

7 Ways We Stunt Our Growth

  1. Decisions are made out of fear. Fear of mistakes and failure make you sheltered and disengaged, unable to take necessary risks. Fear of shifting identity or a change in position or status threatens your comfort and security. Fear of offending or losing people cripples you, because you place your whole value in what others think of you.
  2. Steroid techniques are used to manufacture growth. Truth and personal maturity are discarded for the sake of personal or organizational gain. Numerical growth is manufactured with tricks and gimmicks. People begin acting out of desperation rather than what’s best in the long run.
  3. There are no genuine apologies made for mistakes. Error, fault, and oversight are not humbly acknowledged. Cover-ups and “blissful” ignorance are common, and even expected. Excuse-making and blame-shifting are the norm.
  4. There is no pruning or cutting back. New ideas are piled on top of old ones, adding a confusing mess of layered vision. Initiatives are added, but none are taken away. Hard but much-needed decisions to cut out ineffective strategies are avoided.
  5. Fresh leadership is never introduced. Organizational scar tissue forms over time and needs to be broken up, but isn’t. Leaders and teams become co-dependent and act as crutches for each other, or they become hostile to one another. Staff transitions are not dealt with properly and honorably.
  6. Comfort or tradition rule the day. Inactivity is justified by cookie-cutter defenses, like: “We’ve always done it that way…” or “That would be a lot of work…” or “It’s good enough, why change it?” or “He/she started that division; it’s out of my control…”
  7. The need to be in control stifles influence. No new learning takes place for fear of change. Decision-making and authority are micromanaged, not delegated. Vision and innovation are neglected or actively discouraged.

Any of these red flags can indicate major problems that keep us from sustainable, lasting, and healthy growth.

Take the time to evaluate yourself. If you are in leadership, ask some hard questions of your team or organization. Go back through the seven signs, cross-checking the explanations of each with your own view. Or better yet, review them with the help of your team or fellow leaders. I’m a big fan of the idea that we rely on those around us to point out our blind spots and help us grow.

Check back Thursday, April 11 for the follow-up post: 7 Ways we Foster our Growth.


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