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Nothing Grows in a Straight Line – Even People

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Karl W. Palachuk
February 14, 2010

No one is surprised when they see that plants don’t grow straight. Plant a squash or a vine and see what it does. If you want it to grow straight, you’ll need to use tent stakes to staple it’s tentacles to the earth.

If fact, it’s almost laughable when you see what people do with trees and bushes. In the “wild” they’re wild. They have a beauty and spontaneity of their own. But under the skilled hands of humans they spend most of their lives staked down and roped into place. They look alike, similar, and uniform — and boring.

But somewhere along the road we get the idea that other things should grow in a straight line. The economy should go up and up and up. Better every year. Faster. Richer.

And when the inevitable slowdown or “crash” happens, we step back and tell each other that it had to happen eventually. You can’t go up forever. House prices can’t go up forever. Stock prices can’t go up forever. Profits can’t go up forever.

Businesses have good years and bad years. Things go up. Things go down. Sometime things even go sideways.

And what about we humans?

Well, we certainly don’t grow in a straight line either.

When you set a goal, you’re eager to go right to it. And we all know you need to focus on that goal and always be moving toward it. But then you find out that there’s a stumbling block or detour.

Very often it’s the case that we need to stop and go get some education. Learn how something works, or who the players are. And while this detour is necessary, we’re not very patient with it because it draws us “off course.”

The truth is, when you’re evolving as a person or a business, you’re only off course if you lose sight of the ultimate goal. Side tours and missteps are part of the process. You can never go in a straight line. The longer you live (or are in business), the more you believe this truth.

In my business we have a philosophy about major projects:
“Something’s going to go wrong. We don’t know what it is, but we’ll find it and fix it.”

Basically, our philosophy is that we’re going to be 100% successful. Why? Because we never lose the big plan.

As individuals we would do well to take the same approach. You might think you’re going to go down a perfect path to a perfect goal. But you won’t. You can’t. Life steps in . . . and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

We’re all going to grow in a twisting, turning, slanted way. Accepting that will help us to understand the path we’re on, and to forgive ourselves when we realize we’re not growing straight. Keep your “eyes on the prize” as they say and you’ll eventually grow to where you need to be. But don’t insist on a straight path or you’ll spend a lot of energy worrying about the path instead of the goal.


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