When people talk about business, reach, audience or impact, it always seems to carry the inherent idea that things should always be growing. I don’t think this is necessarily true. I look at this in my own life, and also in the environment around me. Things are not meant to always grow. In fact, that’s the definition of cancer. We all want to be unstoppable but we should all have something that stops us.
We shouldn’t always be growing.
In the realm of business, growth always seems to be the goal, whether it’s numbers, money reach, followers or impact. The term build is different, we can build without necessarily growing, but the way that word is used in (USA) English tends to be synonymous with growth. The idea that the numbers should always be bigger is not sustainable, healthy or true to life. We live in cycles (especially as women) – our breath, the seasons, or our own bodies – and staying on a trajectory of only growth quickly becomes unhealthy.
Imagine if the lining of your uterus only kept building, rather than shedding? Or, if the moon only waxed & never waned? What if we only ever inhaled – forever – and never exhaled? The same is true for our businesses. If we don’t allow for the shedding, the waning, the pause, or the natural exhale in our business, we are out of touch with nature & reality, which never goes well in the long run. While we might be able to convince ourselves it’s all good in the short-term, there will always be a price to pay – even if we pass that price on to our grandchildren.
The difference between growing and tending.
Instead of always (only) looking at growing, a healthier question to ask is how do we tend to our lives and businesses? We don’t keep growing our garden, we tend our garden. We don’t grow our life, we tend our life. When we put our attention on tending, it becomes clearer what needs to be done. Sometimes things need to be watered, sometimes things need to be pruned.
Tending puts us into the moment
When we tend, we are automatically put into a present-time relationship with our business (and, therefore, in connection with life). Whereas growth takes us out of that, we become overly future focused. If I’m only focused on growth, there’s a forward trajectory that always has an outcome in mind – at the cost of my present-moment experience & impact. When we are outcomes based we lose intimacy with the moment. In order to know what we need to tend, we have to look here & now, and ask: “what needs tending?” I love the metaphor of the garden for this. If I tried to plant tomatoes in winter, they will probably not even sprout – or, if they do, will die soon after. Different things need planting according to the season, and when we take on the lens of tending instead of growing, we’re forced to check in with the here and now. Here’s what else our gardens teach us about business:
Weeding, thinning & pruning
The healthiest systems allow certain parts to go fallow at times – on purpose. Some things need to be cut back, or allowed to die, for the healthiest garden to grow. In my own business, there are cycles of growth, but also of pruning and weeding. The idea behind pruning a plant in the fall or winter is that it enables it to grow better once the spring comes. It’s about looking at your life and business and determining what needs pruning & thinning to create growth when growth is actually appropriate, or expansion where expansion is needed. With carrots, not only is it important to weed, but you have thin them. If you aren’t fierce with the thinning process, then they can’t grow.
What seemingly healthy ‘plant’ in your business actually needs to be thinned (and sacrificed) in order for the other ‘plants’ to truly flourish?
If you let something that might look like a weed grow, sometimes it becomes a (beneficial) volunteer. I remember one summer in the garden we got dozens of volunteer tomato plants and they were always the strongest. Because they are the seeds of the plants prior, they are already fortified to their natural environment, which makes them stronger, hardier, and more delicious. I couldn’t have created a more juicy tomato.
What is ‘volunteering’ in the garden of your business, that you couldn’t have planned for, but is actually exactly what’s needed?
What if I’m not the only pollinator in my business? We tend to get very focused on the fact that we are the sole creator – the Only One who can do certain things. What else is happening that, if I wasn’t so focused on me & my role, I’d be able to see and support?
What are all the things I need to do to allow, attract and encourage – the pollinators that aren’t me? How can I better support these ‘pollinators’?
Last year I took a year off my program Fierce Grace. I kept getting the message that Fierce Grace, one of my main revenue generators, needed to be allowed to go fallow and potentially re-emerge organically, or not. I resisted mightlitly! And, ultimately, I had to trust – that either Fierce Grace would re-emerge, or something better would arise. Out of this trust, The Collective was born. A new offering, far wider in scope, that I never could have envisioned if I hadn’t been willing to allow for the fallow space.
Where are you hearing the clear call to pause, or set an offering aside – but resisting out of fear or potential income?
The principle of growth in business and life can leave us with a narrowly focused vision that excludes much of what is actually going on around us. Tending, on the other hand, allows us to be in close relationship with what is so, and when we are willing to stay in intimate relationships with our business, life and relationships and ask what needs to be tended to and how, we work within the ecosystem at hand and what is unfolding in front of us, and this helps to create a more sustainable and meaningful life and business.
This is deep feminine leadership & business building. It isn’t always easy or comfortable. It is profoundly rewarding, and ultimately sustainable, in intimate connection with life itself.
Want to dive deeper? Watch the full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3A0YfypevE
Like what you're reading?
To receive relational practices and posts like this, sign up here.
Kendra, you are a genius! So grateful for the ways you broaden my perspective.
Thanks for this article! Loved it