Growing Pains: A Different Perspective

Growing Pains: A Different Perspective

Recently my wife had a job interview for an internal promotion for which she spent hours preparing.  When I asked her how it went and how she felt about it, her answer revolved around the emotions that she hadn’t felt in previous interviews, not around the content of the conversation itself.  Much of her answer had to do with things like: “I don’t feel like I answered a certain question with enough detail”, “I feel like they were pressuring me with follow-up questions”, “I was forced to pause and think for a long time on some questions”, “I feel exhausted”, “That was HARD!”.

I think back my early days as a young consultant, when I was venturing into a second professional role in addition to my ‘real job’ as an IT Business Analyst.  After a full day of training, one of my best friends and mentors, Larry Sternberg (who also happened to be my boss), asked me how I felt about how the day went. I was exhausted. It was HARD! Not physically, but intellectually and emotionally hard. I knew that I had met the ‘objectives’ of the training session, but I felt overwhelmed with what I had absorbed throughout the day. I distinctly remember Larry looking at me and saying: “That’s what growth feels like”.

Today we find ourselves in a world ravished by, and in many ways rejuvenated by, a global pandemic. Every day I hear people talking about how hard things have been because of COVID.  And I agree! It has been a hard road for me too.

I offer another perspective on what “hard” means. Maybe it’s not just the fact that you’ve been laid off. Maybe it’s not just the fact that your sales pipeline dried up overnight. Maybe it’s not just the fact that your clients are twice as demanding yet demanding to pay half as much. Maybe it’s not just the fact that you can’t find anyone to work for you.  Maybe it’s that you’re growing. Maybe you’re growing into someone or something that you didn’t know you could be. If you’ve never been there before, how could you know how it feels?

We think of talent/potential like a glass of water:  the size of the glass is your talent. It’s the size of your potential to perform. The level of water in the glass is your current performance. You’re goal, and that of your organization, should be to help yourself and others fill up the glass – to maximize performance to the highest capacity.   As the glass fills up, it will undergo minute, unperceivable shifts in its structure as the building pressure of the water pushes downward and outward on the container. The very thing the glass is designed to hold and carry forward makes the container physically stretch as it adapts to containing it.  The same happens to your talent: it will undergo a shift as your performance nears the top.

A rubber balloon has the capacity to hold large amounts of air. It can do it. But as it fills up its structure shifts, which even changes its physical appearance. How do you think the balloon feels?

Your talent has the capacity to continue growing and defines the extent to which you can stretch and grow.  But stretching can “hurt”;  you can sometimes feel it. Your growth impacts how you feel.  Are you feeling it?

  • If you are feeling it, ask yourself: Am I channeling this growth toward the things I want to accomplish?
  • If you’re not feeling it, ask yourself: Am I growing? If I’m not growing, how can I find more activities that make me feel growing pains?
  • If you don’t want to feel it, ask yourself: Have I achieved what I set out to achieve? If so, share with us the key steps that helped you get there.

If you want to know how big the glass is for the individuals in your organization, let us know. That's what we do.

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