6 Elements of Growth by Dave Ferguson

Whether you’re growing plants, people, businesses–or all three–you know that growth involves certain elements. When the elements that promote growth are diminished, we start to decline.

Whether you’re growing plants, people, businesses–-or all three–you know that growth involves certain elements.

In recent months, I have learned how important the growth hormone is for humans, for example. It is active at relatively high levels for most people until about the age of 25.

Then, quietly, it slows, with gradual but little noticeable effect until one day, you realize you’re not as limber as you used to be or your muscles are not as strong as they once were, even though you are working harder than ever on strength training. Maybe you forget a few words here and there, or you just don’t have the stamina to do all that you want to do.

The point is this: when the elements that promote growth are diminished, we start to decline.

  • When a business stops doing what made it grow or loses focus on its core branding, it starts to decline.
  • When relationships are not continually nourished, they decline.
  • When you stop learning new things and keeping your mind engaged, your brain’s ability to function optimally will be impacted.
  • When you stop investing in your team, their engagement will lessen.

Let’s do what we can to prevent that.

Six Elements Required for Growth

Whether you are seeking to grow your influence, your business, or to help those around you grow, you will need these elements.


Growth begins with grounding. You plant a seed in the ground. You set something in a place where it can get the nourishment and support it needs to grow. The same holds true for people and businesses. They must be grounded in a place where they get the nourishment and support needed to grow.

For individuals, this involves being grounded on core values–things like faith, health, and relationships nourish body and soul. They give you strength and endurance.

For companies, this is all about values, vision, and mission. It is the foundation from which you grow as a company, and the foundation on which you rely for support as you grow. A company without core values, vision, and mission will wither when the tough times come; but one that is rooted and grounded firmly will be able to stand the test of time.


Hormones are essentially human regulators. These ingenious little elements influence everything we do, how we move, and even how we think and feel. Regulators on an engine control its speed and intensity, keeping it well-paced somewhere between stalled and explosive.

As a leader, you must have and provide regulators in order to be at your most effective level. As an executive coach, I have seen first hand what can happen to a person whose regulators are not in good working order. Their priorities get out of sync. They start to neglect the things that are most integral to their survival–health, relationships, and faith, for example. They power up, full throttle, but without regulatory balance, they end up in my office or on the phone with me talking about their losses and what they can do to regain control of their unregulated life or business.

Businesses need regulators, too, in order to grow. Most call these policies and procedures. Leaders may tend to underplay their importance, but they do so at their peril. These regulators allow the business to grow and remain viable.

Financials are a big area where regulators are a critical factor. It is especially important for individuals and companies to recognize that unregulated spending has its consequences. So does the lack of spending on things like maintenance, operations, and compliance.

Creating and managing revenue is key. The importance of this is underscored in a Federal Reserve Report noting that “44 percent of all respondents could not cover an unexpected $400 emergency expense.”  (By the way, if you are one of these people, talk to me. I can help you.)

This is not just a personal problem. Businesses can be operating on dangerous margins as well. Closely regulate your income and expenses and keep your debt to equity ratio in check.


Three Minutes. That’s how long the average person can live without oxygen. Without this critical life element, your heart stops beating, and your brain cells begin to die. Within six minutes, your brain will cease to function.

Quite the thought, isn’t it?

Without this one single element, you’re three minutes from a point of no return.

Let me ask you this as it relates to life and growth in other areas besides physical.

How long can you, as an individual, survive in other areas without fresh air?

How long can a business survive without fresh, new ideas?

It may not be three minutes, but without freshness and newness of ideas, innovation, and experiences, you will reach a point of no return. To grow yourself or your business, take time to recharge and refresh. Go on a vacation. Do a team retreat. Take a walk outside. Brainstorm with those who think outside your normal box.


Humans are composed of up to 60% water. Your heart, lungs, brain, and liver have even higher percentages. It would follow, then, that water is important to life. Dehydration can result in dizziness, fainting, and loss of functionality.

In life and business, energy is expended. Yet, energy is needed to function in life and business. This means there must be a regular cycle of energy expenditure and replacement. Without times of renewal, your life or business can suffer loss of functionality.

The speed of business being what it is today, many leaders expect their employees to be on call, essentially, 24/7. While it may seem to be a way to increase productivity and responsiveness, very often the effect is the opposite. It depletes the energy of the team.

The cure? Take a break. Celebrate wins before moving on to the next big thing. Determine boundaries and set the example for following them. Take time every so often for a “digital detox” and encourage your team members to do the same. Do something different, or do something you must do…differently.

These types of activities help refill the tank of energy that is critical to your team’s performance.


Tending is an interesting word. It is essentially the work of paying attention to needs.

People and results thrive with proper attention.

This means if you delegate something, trust your team to do their job, but continue to give it and them the attention needed to grow. Delegate, don’t abdicate. If you have a responsibility, give it attention. If you have a bank account, give it attention. If you own a home, well, you know what happens if you don’t give it attention.

Tending applies to everything you own, everything you do, and every area of your life. If, at this point, you are thinking this is an overwhelming responsibility, then it might be time to simplify some things and to evaluate your priorities. If you have more than you can give attention to, it’s time to start saying, “No” to some commitments that no longer fit your vision, goals, and values.


Growth is intended for harvesting. In fact, harvesting allows for new growth, in addition to supplying the needs of others.

Growing must have purpose.

Do you have a business? How will your growth impact you and your employees, customers, vendors, and community?

Do you want to improve your health? What is the purpose? How will your good health impact your life and the lives of others?

Do you want to grow your bank account? Focus on your “why.”

Growth alone is not enough. Growth with a harvest is a necessary and welcome cycle of life and business.

And now for the tough questions…

  • Do you have these growth factors in your life?
  • Do you have them in your business?
  • Do you have them in your relationships?

In each area of life, in order for you to grow, you must have these six elements. Check in regularly to ensure you and your team are well-equipped for growth!

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