In this week's lesson we will discuss the Rewards of Growth and how it applies to all of us. I think most will agree that growth in all areas of our modern culture is king. No organization or enterprise ever wants to stop growing. Similarly, investors seem to always want to bet their hard earned savings on companies that have a future to grow because no one wants to be associated financially with yesterdays "has been."
Premiums are always paid for the stocks of companies who outperform their competitors in revenue growth and profit growth. These companies are more valuable in the marketplace because they usually needed products; employ talented and skillful people with the right attitude; and execute lofty goals with timing and precision. These companies stay excited by continually beating last months results, which breeds even more excitement which in turn fuels more growth and the rewards of even higher value.
However, at some point enterprises, industries and their people mature. The numbers get harder to beat by the same percentages. The excitement isn't what it used to be and the growth slows down to a halt. People start making excuses why they can't grow anymore. Slower growth is followed by less value, less enthusiasm and a spiral downward that can be quick and devastating.
Our lives are no different from the enterprise examples stated above. When we are young we have incredible energy and desire to grow. We soak in all the knowledge possible to learn the skills it takes to grow in our careers and provide a good life for our family. We are not afraid to start businesses, families, or new careers and will do whatever it takes to grow. Then, just as the enterprise example, lots of individuals hit a level of maturity in their life and stop growing. Their enthusiasm and attitude changes and their excuse phase sets in.
My contention is that it doesn't have to be this way for individuals. We have a distinct advantage over companies and organizations. We have much more leeway and an ability to quickly maneuver. We are only accountable to ourselves and have no products to worry about. On the contrary, companies have to worry about a whole bunch of people: customers, shareholders, and employees.
Companies have to be able to shift with the changing preferences of consumers. This becomes difficult after a company becomes a certain size. Pensions, benefits, unions, and many other factors stifle the company's ability to adapt with the consumers. When the company can't adapt, it then may turn to desperate measures; it may overstate its numbers, it may borrow money to pay dividends; it may borrow money to pay pensions; and it may even borrow money to pay off previous debts. Eventually, the debts become too big and it's time to liquidate.
Luckily, individuals do not have to deal with these things. We could continue to grow our skills and stay excited during our entire lifetime. When changes occur in the marketplace, we can adapt instantly if we want to. Let's take one person as an example: Jim Clark. He first founded Silicon Graphics; then in 1994 during the Internet boom, he founded Netscape Communication. He then founded Healtheon - Web MD, followed by myCFO. After the Internet bubble burst, Clark began developing real estate in Southern Florida.
In other words, it doesn't matter what was hot at the time, Clark had the ability to change rapidly and move into that area. You can bet that Clark will always find a way to be involved in the next big thing. Big corporations do not have that kind of ability to maneuver, but individuals do.
As an individual, you have the ability to read and to learn something new every day for the rest of your life. In other words, there are no growth limits. The only limits that can exist are self-imposed. If you ever catch yourself saying, "I don't need to learn about that because I'm already a multi-millionaire," or "I don't need to learn about that because I already know it all," you've just placed a self-imposed limit on yourself. You've stopped yourself from growing.
With proper planning, disciplined execution and good habits we could all do our very best to maintain our health, our wealth and our happiness for life. Just don't wait too long to start planning for your future and never, ever stop growing. We live in an age where you have the ability to learn and grow constantly. My new iPhone turns my idle time into growth tome by enabling me to read and learn more than ever. I learn in doctor's offices; at car dealerships while my car being is serviced or just lounging on my couch. We all have new opportunities to reap the Rewards of Growth!