Our Q4i company theme for 2023 was #Growth. As is typical with our themes, we choose ideas that drive thought processes and behaviors we want to develop within our team and create a lasting impact that carries over from year to year.
Growth has proven to be a very reflective topic for us and others. There are so many ways to interpret what growth can mean, so we asked people early in the year what growth meant to them, and we wrote about it in a blog post. We’re wrapping up this year’s theme by taking a reflective look at what growth meant during 2023.
Early in the year, I said that I was working on new personal learning opportunities and saying “Yes” to uncomfortable things. I have certainly done that, and I am incredibly grateful for how my new attitude has enhanced my life. 🌟
However, in retrospection, my most impactful growth opportunity has been about setting boundaries and recognizing that I was no longer willing to operate without firm boundaries protecting my time and sanity. 🤯 Here are a few examples:
- Deciding what I was and wasn’t willing to do and sacrifice and what I was and wasn’t going to make time for.
- It’s meant saying, “I can’t get that done in that timeframe,” or “I can’t put my team on a job where we're not making money.”
- It’s meant finding similar boundaries for my team and assertively enforcing a “put the work away at the end of the day” environment.
- Or putting a team agreement in place explicitly stating that not only is it okay to respectfully say uncomfortable things, but we have the responsibility to do so when the information needs to be said.
We asked for some reflective input from our colleagues and industry peers. Take a look through the retrospectives from their eyes and see where growth may be hiding in plain sight.
In our journey at TruHu, we've experienced remarkable and exponential growth. It's odd because, throughout this period of growth, we've never really felt comfortable with where we are. If you ask the TruHu team, they would say that we can achieve more and do "it" better.
Change is also uncomfortable. Most people weigh comfort against change and then make a choice about whether to act or not.
When you're growing, you don't always realize it.
So, we've had to learn to lean into uncomfortable moments, as they often serve as signals that growth is on the horizon.
For this year of growth, I encourage everyone reading this to ask themselves whether they leaned into or away from those uncomfortable moments. And if they didn’t, to consider whether they are comfortable with the growth they achieved this year.
For me, growth in 2023 came in the form of a new level of understanding of the patience and preparation we must embrace in the short term to reach our long-term potential. Like so many business owners, I’m a quick start and often struggle with the details.
This past year showed me unequivocally that if you are going to make significant changes and reach growth potential, the details matter. In fact, the details matter more than the big ideas.
Part of this growth was driven by the recognition of just how much growth is a team sport. Unless you are a solopreneur, your own growth rate will be significantly throttled or fueled by the growth pace of those around you.
While we, Q4i, started some of our most significant projects a couple of years ago, 2023 was the year we reached the finish line with them. We never would have gotten there without an unbelievably strong and motivated internal team that kept one another in check and on task, each of us growing professionally along the way.
As you watch us in 2024, I will remind you that there are no “overnight successes.” We busted our asses in 2023 to reach those finish lines. This is the year we share the results of our hard work with the world. It may create a false illusion of overnight success but don’t believe what you think you see. We proudly bear the scars of the growth pains it took to get us here.
In the earlier years of my business, my only growth metric was revenue. My thought process was this: if I grow my knowledge of solutions and sales, I will gain and retain clients. The easiest measure of success from this perspective was annual revenue increases.
While an increase in revenue will always be a worthy indicator of growth to me, my perception of growth has expanded over the last three years to include more elements reflective of our company culture and team satisfaction.
This revelation was sparked by a pattern. My focus on new business and client experience was always more important than a nagging issue with a team member. It was easier for me to get things done myself than to hold others accountable to their job responsibilities.
I was burned out and frustrated with everyone and it should come as no shocker that turnover was high. This cycle would continue over and over until I realized that I was actually the problem, not my team.
From that moment on, I made our company culture my top priority. I sought out honest feedback from my team, leadership coaching, read books, listened to podcasts, and relentlessly implemented new strategies to fill the gaps in my hiring and retention process.
The innovative solutions and new deals in the pipeline must be met with a team that is fired up and committed to personal development and growth.
The growth that has come out of my commitment to being an employer of choice has truly touched every part of my business in profoundly positive ways. The results speak for themselves:
- We exceeded the projected revenue growth.
- Our internal turnover is the lowest it's ever been.
- Our people are being promoted as they follow the pathways we lay for development.
- We have more requests and completed professional designations and certifications than ever before.
- Accountability is seen as a positive tool rather than a negative reinforcement.
- And the team literally speaks our values to each other and our clients.
THIS is growth.
To “grow” in 2023, I had to “shrink” down the volatile garden I had grown in 2022.
Did I become a starving artist who sold all his possessions, moved to the South of France, and went “monk?” Not exactly.
1. I dug down to the “roots” of my foundation– spent time thinking about how I can spend LESS TIME thinking about ME and breaking the stereotypes/judgments I had about the benefits industry.
2. I cleared out some “weeds”– distracting activities that did not generate value, aka “fill my cup.”
3. I added in some new “topsoil”– positive people/activities/sources of information let into my cerebral cortex.
Daily, I supplied my new garden with ample sunlight/air/water and:
- Focused on serving others
- Be where my feet are
- Only tried to control and clean up “MY” side of the street
I found Garden McNerlin grew a heck of a lot by “SHRINKING” in 2023.
Benedict Cumberbatch, a great actor, and (arguably more importantly) the namesake for my dog, once said, “The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is. Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun.”
There are a thousand quotes out there about growth and change that could be more appropriate for a blog written for business owners and professionals, but for me, this one hit home. At the beginning of last year, I had just gotten married and moved from a small town in Washington to the city center of Barcelona, Spain. And through all that transformation, I learned that finding your way through significant growth can be made easier if you let go of who you think you are.
We all have notions about how capable we are at this or that, who we like to spend our time with, or how we get our best work done. But when you allow yourself to shed these ideas, you create real opportunity for change, and you make it possible to discover strengths you never knew you had. It’s in the process of discovering how you might have been wrong about yourself that growth (and the real fun) happens.
I believe this applies to us all, both in work and in life. Is it hard? Do it anyway. Is it scary? Do it scared. I promise, you’ll have fun.
In 2023, I have experienced significant personal and business growth. One of the biggest changes I made was stepping out of my comfort zone and pushing myself to engage in activities I previously might have avoided. By embracing new challenges, I have been able to expand my skillset and broaden my horizons.
Additionally, a pivotal aspect of my growth journey has been accepting life for what it is. My son has faced significant health challenges, underwent two open heart surgeries, and is living with HCM. It has been a profound lesson for me to come to terms with his condition and learn to support him in his personal growth. Despite his physical limitations, we discovered that golf is a perfect outlet for him to thrive and develop skills as there are many other sports he cannot participate in.
Overall, the combination of stepping outside my comfort zone and accepting the realities of my son's condition has taught me valuable lessons about resilience, adaptability, and the importance of embracing new opportunities for growth, both personally and professionally.
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