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Stop Growing and Developing


While I am a huge fan of the book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck,” I think author Mark Manson got one element wrong. He claims there is a natural “Law” called the “Backwards Law,” which suggests the human desire to improve and want for more is counterintuitive and that the opposite is actually true … that we are better served by wanting for less. Like so many others, however, he ignores the idea that we, as high-achieving human beings, are not designed to strive for less. Try it – tell yourself, “I just need to grow less” or “I’m really done developing and growing and that will be my path to fulfillment.” Doesn’t work, does it?!

We are human and thus driven. Yes, we all have very different drives and motives – and I celebrate that about us – but we are all driven. It’s not about less when it comes to drive and motivation because it’s not a dynamic of quantity – it’s a dynamic of quality and character. What do I mean by this?

Quality: The accuracy or precision of the work or deliverables relative to the context and situation.

Character: Appropriately matching and applying the tone and attitude of our words and actions to our work and working relationships.

Einstein was quoted as defining insanity as (and I paraphrase) “doing the same thing you’ve always done and expecting different results.”

Maybe your current state is already excellent, already greatness. If you can honestly answer that it is, then keep doing what you’re doing. Most of us cannot make this claim, however. Most of us want improvement, positive change and growth in something all the time.

To clarify, I subscribe to the “Backwards Law” in many areas of my life, while recognizing that it does not apply universally; it is not a “Law” but rather a situational principle or standard. It’s a little like playing “opposite day” with a young child. If you have young kids, you know the game … everything you say is really the opposite. So when she asks for ice cream for dinner and you say, “Of course not. We’re not having ice cream for dinner,” she hears, “Absolutely. Yes, ice cream for dinner is a go!” When we agree to the rules, it works. It won’t work, however, when I want to show my loving wife how much I appreciate her and decide to forget her birthday and our wedding anniversary. According to the “Backwards Law,” I should make a pretty positive impression with these actions, don’t you think? I mean, less is more… right?!

Of course that’s not right, and my wife will attest. It’s not a law like gravity, it’s a situational principle that can be applied to certain situations and contexts with varying degrees of reliability and effectiveness. Sorry, Mark.

Certainly as a team of professional coaches specializing in team and leadership growth and development, we are biased. We firmly believe in the potential of people. We know that no matter from where we are starting our development journey or investment to enhance and improve our teams, there is an opportunity for greater potential each and every day if we choose to work on such.

If you’re wanting more growth and development for yourself or your team, give us a call, email or simply comment on this blog!

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