Spring Beyond Your Boundaries

Author: Linda J. Popky

It’s spring, which means it’s time for me to plant my garden – tomatoes, eggplants, squash, peppers, a variety of herbs and flowers.
I’ve noticed that our local nursery offers many plants in a variety of different size containers. For example, you can buy tomatoes in tiny six packs, in single small containers, or in bigger pots. Many perennials are available in small and medium packs, 1 gallon or 5 gallon pots, or even 10 gallon containers.

What’s interesting is that the same variety of plant will grow to a different size based on the container it’s planted in. This makes sense because the plant’s roots grow until they fill the available space, then, in order to preserve themselves, they naturally pullback to stay at their current size and not overgrow their containers. If you’ve ever taken a root-bound potted plant and moved it to a bigger container, you’ve seen how quickly it will start to grow and expand to take advantage of its new, expanded space. Put a potted plant in the ground and it will begin to grow even more – freed of the constraint of a container.

People and organizations do the same thing.

We have a natural tendency to put boundaries around ourselves. These allow us to grow right to the edge of the constraint and then stop. Sometimes these “containers” are goals and objectives we created as targets for ourselves, such as increasing revenue by 20% or decreasing customer defections by 15%. Too often we treat these goals as hard boundaries that once achieved provide a signal for us to slow down and maintain status quo.

Some boundaries make us feel comfortable or more protected. When the economy is in turmoil, we have a natural tendency to put stakes in the ground that are focused on holding our position or preventing things from getting worse, for example, such as cutting operating costs or decreasing marketing investments. Yet these stakes often keep us stuck where we are, preventing us from breaking out of the mold with fresh shoots to try new and exciting things.

What boundaries are you putting up around your business? Are you unintentionally limiting your ability to grow because of concerns about today’s current economy? How prepared are you to thrive even in today’s conditions, and are you well-positioned for a growth spurt once the economy begin to rebound? Are you ready to “transplant” healthy product and services to new markets, where they may have the opportunity to grow beyond existing constraints? Are you making the necessary investments to sustain and nurture your business so that you can reap the results down the road?

Eventually a root-bound plant will run out of nourishment. Consider how to leave your old boundaries behind so you can focus on new growth. Then let your business bloom.

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