GROW - Personally, Professionally and in Business

Growth is part of the natural process of life, and it is this need to grow that we, as humans, can constantly adjust to conquer challenges and solve problems we've never faced before. Sometimes the obstacle is unfamiliar to only us and with the proper guidance we are able to navigate it easily, while other times the challenge is new to the entire team and it takes everyone, working together, to be able to successfully steer through the situation. And each time we conquer a challenge, we learn and grow.

It is because of a commitment to personal and professional growth that we, as business owners, are also able to deliver what is expected to our customers. We grow and over time, we become a trusted resource to our customers, and as a result grow our business further — and build even stronger relationships.

However, growth isn't something that is ever fully completed; it is an ongoing process that continues to build on itself. Here are the four areas to growth success.

G - Get Real

The first step to growth is to acknowledge reality. Ask the question, "If I were to assume that my circumstances would stay exactly the same for several years, what would I want to change now so that my business and our employees are sustained physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially?"

This growth step is about our perspective — understanding that the past cannot be changed, and accepting that in order to grow, we need to move forward despite challenges.

R - Re-evaluate

In order to grow, we must constantly re-evaluate our situation. Now is not the time to become complacent because of the economy or other challenges we're facing. Ask yourself, "What is working (and how well)? What isn't working and needs to change so growth can happen?"

It is also during this step that we recognize that we can't possibly take on everything at once, so we must prioritize which tasks to tackle first. We should also try, as best as we can, to look ahead to see any unintended outcomes from the decisions we are making. Though they are often hard to see, they could give birth to something problematic down the road.

O - Outside Perspective

In order to grow both personally, professionally and in business, we can benefit greatly from others we trust to guide us along the way. When the pressure from a challenge is on, we become more like who we really are. Sometimes we are pleased with what is revealed, and sometimes we are disheartened by what we discover. In business, this often means seeking out the guidance of an advisory board, coach or peer group - all valuable ways to gain an outside perspective. They can create positive pressure to grow in a safe environment. These are the people who see our true potential and will help us develop our character and confidence - and ultimately help us grow our business.

W - Work Hard

We've all heard that nothing worthwhile comes without hard work, and that can be said of the three areas above. We can acknowledge reality, constantly re-evaluate our situation and gain outside perspective, but if we don't act on what we discover, it is all for nothing. This is perhaps the hardest step in the growth process, because change IS difficult. It doesn't come easily — and it is a critical step to bringing about the results we seek.

Finally, as leaders in our community and businesses, it is equally important to invest in others along the way - whether it is with employees or other associates - by nurturing them to grow personally and professionally. Not only is this act good and kind, it also helps us grow as individuals, by building into the lives of others.