Your company should be a vehicle for the life you want

"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit."
- Gordon Gekko

I'm not much of a movie buff, but this epic scene from Wall Street made a strong impression on me. At a shareholder's meeting, Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) praises greed to a favorable crowd.

Not many would use greed as a positive drive these days (and that's lucky), but try and replace "greed" with "growth."

Doesn't it sound familiar?

This isn't an essay in favor of decline. Growing as an individual, becoming emotionally more mature, smarter, kinder, and so on, is good. Seeking economic growth for a country is also a good endeavor as it could, at least in theory, end poverty.

And if we concede that a growing economy is good, the way to achieve this is through ever-growing companies. Growth becomes the magic solution to all our problems.

When you talk to entrepreneurs, both externally funded and not, the spirit of growth hovers from "hi" and usually lands on the third sentence: "We (the company) are growing!"

A couple of weeks ago, I casually chatted with someone I know about his company. He started it after years spent working first as a manager and then as a high-ranking executive at a big corporation.

He did an excellent job there, but if you had talked to him then, you'd have known he missed the craft.

Now, in his own business, he is involved in the nitty-gritty of the operations. Back to the roots.

And boy, you could tell that he was enjoying it.

His company had been doing very well lately, so I was curious to hear what he thought the next step should be.

Can you guess his answer? "Keep growing it!"
It made me pause.

Growth is a demanding mistress.
Growing his service business would require more business and more people. It would certainly come with more problems to deal with, more puzzles to solve, and more frustration.

It would take him away, further and further from his craft, until he becomes what he walked away from again. Until he loses what makes him happy.

A company, especially a small business, is a vehicle for its founder. And too often, founders let their company drive them. They align their dreams with what the culture influences them to believe to be the correct pursuit.

But a company is a vehicle that ought to be at the service of the lifestyle she desires; a way to reach her goals and aspirations. Not the other way around.

Let's reevaluate today. Is your company giving you the lifestyle that you want?