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  • Writer's pictureBurk Moreland

If You Aren’t Growing, The Problem Could Very Well Be You

“If you want 1 year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.”

-Chinese Proverb

As I travel the country working with different teams, I see challenge after challenge. Growth isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would do it, and I would be running a different company! Growth takes a lot of insight and honesty first, a huge amount of intestinal fortitude second, and, finally, an incredible will. Most people don’t have what it takes because their egos get in the way.

I trained with a mixed martial arts teacher who had a sign on his door that is still one of my favorite quotes. The sign read: “Leave your ego outside, it is fragile and will be broken.” I remember that the first time I saw that sign I wasn’t sure exactly what it meant. About 10 minutes later, I understood. I was being challenged to learn completely new skills. But new skills made up only a small part of the challenges I faced the day I walked into that sweat-soaked room. I knew I was in trouble when all my “teachers” were much smaller, younger, and sadly, more flexible than I had ever been. At that moment, I suspected that what they had to teach me was going to be harder than anything I’d ever tried before.

You must understand something. Until that day, my ego and I had a clear understanding. If I started to do something that made me look “stupid,” “silly,” or “uncoordinated,” my ego would simply tell me to quit. And I would. But, the day I walked into that noisy, smelly room, something changed. I’m sure I looked stupid, silly, and uncoordinated in the first five minutes, but I didn’t quit. I failed and failed again. In fact, I quickly learned that to succeed with most of the skills they were teaching, I was going to have to fail first. The reality was that none of what we were learning could be done right the first time—every skill required hours of practice.

As I progressed in the class and learned more, I watched as many others started in the place I had been. They were awkward, clumsy, and incapable. Unfortunately, after a first day filled with frustration and failure, many of them never came back. They simply couldn’t allow themselves to fail. If they had not let failure deter them, they might have succeeded.

Instead, when success didn’t come quickly enough, their egos stepped in. I imagine those egos said something like, “Are you kidding? Get your stuff and get out of here. You don’t need this crap. Besides you look like an idiot and a loser.” I’m guessing the guys who left early didn’t notice the sign before they walked in.

As business leaders, most of us are at a point where our egos are well in place. We have had success and most people look to us for answers, guidance, and counsel. All this good feedback makes our egos very happy, but it also creates a very dangerous environment for us. Remember the sign? Don’t imagine that you will ever become so capable and smart that it won’t apply to you. You may be the boss, but that doesn’t mean you are infallible.

Is your ego in the way of the next phase of growth you are pursuing? Do you find yourself saying things like this?

It is just easier to do it myself…

They won’t do it right anyway…

If I train people, they will just leave…

Statements like these are indicators that your ego is in your way because it is stopping you from truly developing your team members. In fact, to clients that make statements like these to me, I usually say something like the following: “If that is true, then either you are crappy at hiring, training, or firing people. Which is it?”

As I’m sure most of you already know—all roads lead back to the manager. Admitting you are the problem is the first step. It is only after you have admitted that you are the problem that you can start building a plan. If you are reading this and thinking something like “well, that may be true for some of those other losers, but I’m not the problem,” then you can stop reading now, because you aren’t ready for what I’m going to say next.

For the rest of you—the ones still reading, these next steps are the easy ones. (You use this process all the time—admittedly, it’s usually easier because you’re not using it on yourself!) Once you have identified the culprit, you just do what you would do with any other problem. Gather your facts, analyze the most likely success paths, build the plan, and go make it happen. The key will be to get your team involved. Tell them you need help. Tell them that they need to take on a bigger role. A good team will step up. Anyone who doesn’t needs to be replaced.

What would your operation look like if you could create more team members just like you? What would you have each of those “you” clones do? What is stopping your team from doing those things?

Either your people can do it and you haven’t allowed them to, or they can’t, and you need to find new people. You have to test them. This is not a ‘Jesus take the wheel’ moment though. Give them things gradually, create a schedule for the changes you have in mind, and check in often to see how your team is doing. You will be surprised at how well people can pick things up if you have done a good job hiring. Then, you never know, you may end up with a little extra time not only to build your business, but also to enjoy the fruits of your labor!

For help with this and any other challenge, Rainmaker Builders stands ready willing and able to assist. We push individuals, teams and companies to heights they didn’t think

possible. Contact us today at (832) 356-4585​ or

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