Understanding The Balance Between Healing Your Business and Growing It
I was laser focused on rapid growth from 2016-2021, both in life and business.
But something shifted for me in the last half of 2021. I started feeling my focus move more towards healing our company than scaling it.
It’s not that I’m stagnant now. Quite the opposite; this year I’ve helped generate more deep, genuine momentum in the business than I ever have before. And I still love to grow and go fast; healing and growth aren’t mutually exclusive.
But I’m more patient and more willing to slow down to fully understand things instead of rushing along. I care more about health and alignment than momentum and vanity numbers.
When I was focused on speed, there were little things, small tears in the fabric of the business that I brushed past. There were loose threads I didn’t feel ready to pull. I kept running and avoided the challenges I didn’t feel I had the time or the expertise to solve.
This worked for a while, but eventually I started to feel unease. I didn’t feel aligned with the business anymore. I felt deep exhaustion. I knew it was time to go back and address everything that had gotten banged up during our breakneck pace, to meet the obstacles I’d been avoiding with compassion and patience. To give all those neglected aspects of the business the attention and love they needed to thrive.
I don’t think that a focus on rapid growth is inherently a bad thing. There are certain periods where it’s necessary to get the momentum you need, but there are seasons for it. And aiming for fast growth during a season that should be focused on healing and strengthening is a mistake.
When It Works to Focus on Rapid Growth to Build Momentum and Reach New Heights:
In 2017 our mantra was “Good Enough” (credit for this gem to my BFF Ella Fleming!) We labeled the entire year “Good Enough 2017,” and multiple times per day my business partner Jess and I would yell across the room in our shared office, “GOOD ENOUGH!” (Often followed by an enthusiastically dorky thumbs up).
If you are a recovering perfectionist like me, you may be horrified by this. But “good enough” was the mantra we needed during this time, and we could not have achieved the business we have now without it.
2017 was the year we made a massive shift from a team of contractors to a team of in-house, local employees. While we both had previous management experience, this was far more complex and challenging than anything we’d attempted before, and we were essentially winging it a lot of the time. We just had to keep going and figure it out as we went. It wasn’t always pretty, but we got where we needed to go.
By 2018 I was co-owner of Interview Connections and I was OBSESSED with getting the business from 400k (where we landed in 2017) to a million in annual revenue by the end of 2018. Every ounce of my focus was on hitting that revenue milestone and getting in the room with other women at that level.
This dogged determination worked, and while we didn’t hit a million, we did double our revenue in 2018 and ended in the high 800s for the year. I kept my focus steady, and in 2019 we crossed the million dollar mark for the first time.
Not only was this intense growth focus necessary to hit the goal, it was a catalyst for a ton of important learning that wouldn’t have been possible if we had been going for a more modest pace. When you challenge yourself to grow that much that fast, your learning cycles become extremely rapid and the personal growth that results is incredible.
Once we hit 7 figures, I immediately moved the goal post to 8 figures (as one does). I learned quickly that what it took to hit 10 million was very different from what it had taken to hit 1 million.
Good enough was no longer good enough.
2020 and 2021 were all about upleveling the company to be able to achieve and sustain 8 figures. (You can read more about that wild leadership journey here).
What we learned in those years was exactly what we needed to get where we are now, and the lessons were invaluable. That learning gave us the experience and wisdom to recognize when it was time for a different approach.
What It Feels and Looks Like When Your Focus on Rapid Growth Needs to Shift:
If you are experiencing deep exhaustion, overwhelm, chaos, or a vague (but frequent) unease, it might be time for you to shift your focus to healing.
When we closed out 2021 at 3 million, it was clear that it was time to focus less on revenue and more on alignment, healing and strengthening.
Disharmony in the culture and inefficiencies in the structures of the organization that initially seemed minor had grown bigger as we grew. The stress on the team of living through a pandemic and the isolation of going fully remote only made matters worse.
I had become too far removed from the service delivery side of things as layers of new leadership were put in place. There was misalignment and low level chaos resulting from not having the right people in the right seats, and leaders not having enough training and mentorship from us as owners.
With all the best intentions, I had contributed to a culture of burnout and a general distrust in leadership. I told myself I was delegating and doing what I should be doing as the CEO, but I think part of me knew I was avoiding facing my team when I didn’t feel like I had all the answers.
I finally made a decision to stop avoiding and to face everything, regardless of whether I felt like I had the answers.
When I made the choice to be fully present and face everything head on, the resources and knowledge we needed to solve our problems started to find me. We suddenly had the exact books and mentors we needed.
When you face what needs to be healed in your business instead of running away from it, you are able to attract the exact resources you need.
Healing doesn’t provide the instant gratification of external growth, but the rewards are deeper. Slowly but surely, day after day, the culture has transformed. Team members are stepping up with brilliant ideas and solutions. Old inefficiencies previously written off as “just the way things are” are being rethought and dissolved. Trust and psychological safety are emerging and strengthening.
It’s not that things are easy now, but the newfound alignment is palpable.
As CEO, I feel different. I feel powerful in a way that makes me realize how powerless I felt before. Misalignment had become so normal for me, I couldn’t even identify it until I experienced the opposite.
The Unexpected Results of Focusing on Healing Your Company Over Growing It:
The deep irony of focusing on healing overgrowth, is that you end up growing.
As I write this, Interview Connections is thriving in a way I have never seen before, and soon the internal shifts will become obvious externally, as they always do.
And while it may look to the outside world like an overnight success story or the result of “hustle and grind” hard work, I’ll know that isn’t true.
I have absolute faith that our deep healing and re-alignment behind the scenes is what will launch us to the next level.