Why Vitality in Your Business is Necessary for Growth —Part 1

By Karen Carnahan & Marsia Gunter


“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”

-Oprah Winfrey

The name of the game in business is growth. At least, that’s how the conventional wisdom goes.

When a business is successful, it grows.  Or, for a business to be successful, it must grow.  Both statements are true. But to be in mastery of business ownership, it's essential to be very clear about what it means for a business to "grow". 

What is the Meaning of Growth?

Growth means different strokes for different folks.   What represents growth for one business may mean disaster or misery for another.  For one, it may mean increased sales, which generates increased product demand, which necessitates an expanded workforce. 

For another, more employees may just represent more headaches.  In this case, growth may be about increased efficiency and technological sophistication of the business operation. 

For one company, growth may be tied to developing ever more and more customers.  For another business, the sweet road to success may entail paring down their customer base to a smaller number of reliable clients, and then providing them with an increasing range of products or services.

It’s all growth. But sometimes it cannot be simply defined as a bigger number on a spreadsheet.

Better vs. More

There is an assumption that growth means more - more money, more sales, more customers, more products, more employees.  MORE.  Maybe that's why growth often brings in its wake more headaches.

The truth is, growth is not really about more (although it may bring that result). Growth is really about better. We often make the mistake that growth is a quantity issue. It's not. Growth is a quality issue - quality of service, quality of efficiency, quality of employee morale, quality of customer satisfaction.

More may be better, but not always. Better is always better.

Growth is really about a better, brighter future for the business and those who are part of it.  Growth is about the business developing more and more into what you want it to be. You are growing into your future, the future you really want.  Sometimes that may not mean bigger at all. Sometimes it may mean scaling down. Sometimes it means diversifying.  Usually it means change. Often big change.

Radical change.

Vitality is Essential for Growth

For growth to be of any use, it has to be sustainable.  It's a living, organic thing.  That's why growth goes hand in hand with vitality. 

But what is vitality?

Vitality has to do with energy, with health, with the ability to survive and adapt and flourish - in other words, to grow.  So you can't have genuine sustainable growth without vitality, and you can't have vitality without growth also being present.

If a business is going to stay in business, as opposed to slowly going out of business, it has to grow. To stay in existence, it must grow, and it will do so either by accident or by design. You get to choose which way it grows. You also get to live with the result.  You get to create your own future.

Growth is a Way of Being

Remember, language creates the future. So to be in mastery of business growth, you as an owner need to stand in the future you've declared for your company, and bring that future into being.

This is a holistic process. You don't just have "growth" for this one little period, or in this one little corner of the business.  It's not like adding a room.  It's a way of thinking and speaking and acting about the business, and it encompasses and affects and engages all aspects of the business.

The Meaning of Vitality, and Why you Have to Have It

Here is where so many businesses get into trouble.

For a while they may grow rapidly in the traditional sense of "more of something", but if they lack an encompassing vitality, they will get overwhelmed, and eventually tired and worn out.

So how do you keep a growing business plugged into vitality?  Let's look at the ingredients that comprise vitality: spirit, passion, innovation, fun - when you have these, you have vitality. 

Spirit and passion are present when we are carrying out action that has meaning for us. Our business actions have real meaning when they match the values and vision we have declared, when they lead us into the future which we have declared for the business and from which we now lead.  When our actions match our values,  we are in a place of vitality.

Sustainable growth and vitality stems from consistently acting in concert with the mission and values of the business, and from the perspective of the long-term future you have declared for the business.

Vitality Is a Group Activity

Note that "you" here doesn't mean just you personally. Sustainable, quality-based growth and vitality requires that everyone in the company is impassioned.  That means every employee is engaged in behavior that is congruent with the mission and values that all of you have declared together.

You as an owner are accountable for keeping everyone focused on the mission and values that will impassion their every action. When this is in place, you have employees who are positive, motivated, self-directed, employees who "own" their job, and are proud of it and of themselves.

This also means that interactions within the company are relationship-based rather than transaction-based, just like the relationships with clients, because the employees all share a vision and a set of values in common.

Vitality Lives Through Your Every Day Values

When you as an owner constantly keep the declared values present in every aspect of the business, always part of the company conversation, then the effect is felt in every area of operation.

With every phone call, for example, if the background question in the employee's mind is "What values are we operating from?"  that will go a long way towards ensuring that each interaction - with vendor, customer, fellow employee - is relationship-based rather than transaction-based. Dealing with difficult people, for example, is handled differently when the encounter takes place within the context of the company values being lived out in the company's work. 

In the next part of this blog, we’ll discuss how passion, authenticity, exploration, and discovery help create vitality in any organization.

Are you further interested in being in mastery of your personal communication and embracing the future for yourself, your company or your organization? Explore the future you want to create through ongoing coaching to develop business growth strategies, professional leadership development and business ownership, and transitioning your business for the next generation. We believe in the future you envision, and stand with you to help achieve it. 

Gary Gunter