Growth Requires Internal Change
I was talking to my daughter this morning, and at one point I said – “Proteus is becoming a different kind of company; it’s exciting.”
She asked me what I meant, and I talked about some of what’s happening: new Proteus consultants outside the US; a focus on creating much more scalable processes and systems for supporting our work; clarifying the Proteus brand to help more people understand what we have to offer; approaching the new book in a different way than we did the first two – better wiring together the success of the book with the success of the company; finding ways for everyone at Proteus to be involved in the success of both.
And I realized, as we were talking, that though a number of these things (and many others) have been in the works for the past year or two, it’s just lately that my image of our company is changing to accommodate them. Until recently, I thought of Proteus as a tiny high-end consulting firm – very good at what we do, but known only to a small group of very discriminating clients.
Now I’m seeing us as a small but world-class enterprise. I honestly believe we are as good or better than any other group at supporting leaders to get ready and stay ready for their future. We bring to that work a combination of skill, heart and intention that I haven’t seen anywhere else. And perhaps most important: we practice what we preach. We’re not perfect at it, but we hold ourselves accountable to do what we encourage and teach our clients to do.
I notice that as my perception of us is changing, my behaviors changes: I act in ways that support and allow those changes to take place. And it reminds me how I’ve seen way too many founders of companies get in the way of their companies’ evolution by holding on to old, no-longer-true images of the organization and its capabilities.
It’s kind of like parents who won’t let their kids grow up: if you insist on seeing a 25-year-old as a 10-year-old, he or she will either fulfill your expectations, and act like a 10-year-old….or break away from you in order to be able to become a grown-up.
I think this is true of all growth involving human beings: we can allow it to happen, or we can get in its way. And when we get in its way, it’s never good: bad for the aspect of us that’s trying to grow (resulting in stunted businesses, relationships, bodies, lives), and bad for our mental and emotional state (resulting in frustration, fear, belligerence, insecurity, stuckness).
I don’t want to hold any part of my world hostage to my limiting ideas. This is yet another place where fair witnessing comes in handy: looking at any aspect of your life and asking, “Am I seeing this as it is now – or as it used to be, or as I wish it was?”