Do you feel like you’re constantly running a race you can never win?
As small business owners, it's easy to get caught up in the race towards success—especially when it seems everyone around you is crossing the finish line when you’re stuck back at the start.
But what if we told you there is a power in going slow?
For Mary Marantz—the bestselling author of Dirt and Slow Growth Equals Strong Roots and the host of the top podcast The Mary Marantz Show—slow growth is the key to not only finding strong and steady success in business but also finding your worth outside of your achievements.
This week on Priority Pursuit, Mary breaks down the importance of embracing slow growth and strong roots as a small business and not relying on your accomplishments to find your worth.
Entrepreneurs & Empathy
Oftentimes, it seems that entrepreneurs come from rough pasts. Mary believes this is connected to the idea of empathy and its impact on being a business leader.
According to Mary, hard stories build empathy, which is the key component of being a storyteller. Whether it’s as a photographer, author, or speaker, understanding another person’s story starts with empathy. And when it comes to someone who has come up from a rough past, they become more attuned to certain elements of the human experience.
You can walk into a room and almost instantly get a read on the mood or you can take a look at someone and know what is going on with them. Those are very powerful skills to have if you’re going to speak on a stage or talk to someone in a coaching setting.
With this in mind, Mary believes there are two different things that can happen to people who have had really hard stories. They can be empathetic and want to create a life so different from what they’ve known that they become an entrepreneur. Or, they will be so marked by their story that they will choose the safe corporate job.
And it’s very tempting to take the corporate route as it’s a life that is very safe and very settled. However, Mary shares that what eventually helped her shift her focus to become more entrepreneurial was to consider how she got to be who she is today.
She sat with the thought, “If someone else has made a sacrifice so that my life can be different, then to settle is to dishonor that sacrifice.” To Mary, living a life that feels safe but ultimately is not what you know you were put on this earth to do, to not be fully alive in what you do, is to dishonor that sacrifice.
However, she also openly admits that thinking this way and putting in the work to create a new path is difficult. If you decide to go the entrepreneurial route—or whatever other path you feel called to—do so smartly and with a safety net, but be sure to start.
On this point, Mary mentions that Decembers don’t happen in December. By this, she means that none of the goals and plans you have for the upcoming December are going to happen if you only act during December. You need to start planning and making moves on your goals now if they are ever going to happen.
The Importance of Embracing Slow Growth & Strong Roots as a Small Business
When you’re first starting a business, it’s easy to get caught up in how those around you are doing. Mary understands this firsthand. She shares how frustrated she originally was as she watched other entrepreneurs around her seem to explode with success overnight.
However, her husband Justin reassured her that they were not running in the same race. While those other businesses were running sprints, they were running a marathon. Sure, those businesses may be going somewhere fast now, but ultimately, if they don’t change something, they’re going to run around in circles and end up back where they started.
As Justin said, “Slow growth equals strong roots.”
They created a successful business, but it didn’t happen overnight. They built a sturdy foundation and had a steady, continuous climb, and when they reached the top, no one questioned their place there.
Still, Mary thoroughly understands the frustration of watching those around you quickly achieve what you are striving for. But, it’s also easy for those businesses to just be flashes in the pan—here one second and then gone the next.
Weeds, Flowers, & Trees
In her book, Mary mentions how everyone in business and in life can choose to be weeds, flowers, or trees.
It’s tempting in the beginning to be a weed—to pop up overnight nice and tall, to spread and grow with dizzying speed.
But these weeds, though tall, only have half an inch of roots holding them down, meaning they fall at the first sight of a storm. They also grow for themselves. They come and take and take for their own growth, not caring for what they choke out around them.
With this in mind, there appears to be a half-life for those who rise up in the business world in this way. When they are anchored down by this flippant character, they will quickly fall away.
Alternatively, flowers are things of beauty. We create beauty and always need it in the world, so that is certainly more effective and positive than a weed. But Mary wants people to strive for something even more than that.
Trees grow taller and fuller than any other plant life. But they don’t do it quickly. It could take 100 years to get to where they are going. Taking this time allows you to build something people will admire, respect, and be served by. Like flowers, they are a thing of beauty in and of themselves, but they are not satisfied being merely that. They want to be shade and shelter for others, to bear fruit to be given away.
When Mary considers her business and the choice between growing fast and only working for her own benefit or taking the time required to walk amongst the giants—she would much rather take her time to create a business that has strong roots and serves people well.
Distracted Work Versus Deep Work
According to Mary, the things we reward today are a little upside down when you think about it. There’s this fleeting economy of how much, how many, how fast—but that doesn’t last.
When did fast become the goal? When you are so focused on how quickly your business is seeing success, what you’re really showing people and promoting is how little time you’ve been in this line of work. You’re essentially saying, “I hardly put in any effort, and look at all the attention and success I’ve achieved.” Which, to Mary, is not much of a legacy.
In the attention-driven world of social media, this distracted work of just creating a ton of content for social media will never be your legacy. Deep work happens in the things you cannot produce overnight. They are the elements that take all of you to create and produce.
As Mary states, there is a reason that passion is oftentimes associated with suffering. The biggest, best work you put out there will not always come easy. Bu,t that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the time it takes to do them.
Five Achiever Types
When running and growing your own business, knowing yourself and what drives your passions is just as important as knowing your industry.
Through her time in the entrepreneurial world, Mary has found that there are five achiever types:
- The Performer: Someone who is always performing and needs to show everyone how far they have come.
- The Tightrope Walker: Someone who is always waiting for the next upswing to catch them just in time.
- The Masquerader: Someone who is hiding in plain sight because they don’t want to let anyone down.
- The Contortionist: Someone who is twisting and turning into knots because to contort is easier than to be criticized.
- The Illusionist: Someone who hasn’t gotten started because they are waiting for the perfect version of themselves to show up.
Just like with other personality tests, these archetypes tend to dive into the reasonings behind why we do what we do—and where we get ourselves stuck in growing our businesses. Understanding your achiever type gives you a framework you can use to better understand what your slow-growth journey looks like and how you can move forward.
Slow Growth Versus Stagnation
Originally, when she and Justin came to the conclusion that they were running a different race than those around them, Mary felt that that meant they weren’t good enough to be in the same race and that these other businesses were rushing to the finish line and leaving them behind in the dust.
However, she quickly came to realize that slow growth does not require, demand, or equate small growth.
Throughout her time with their business, there were windfalls and other moments of success. Unlike the other businesses around them, however, these successes actually stood on a foundation of years of slow growth. Without creating this foundation of stability and character, these successes could have easily crumbled away to simply a moment in the spotlight rather than something they can continue to build upon.
With that in mind, do not think that slow growth means that you will have to be or remain small. In fact, Mary shares that most giants in any industry get to where they are by taking their time.
When comparing slow growth to hustling, it’s not about avoiding doing good or hard work. It’s simply about not being impatient.
Mary explains that you need to adopt a mindset of patience and learning. When you see someone getting what you want, do you see them as an obstacle or as someone meant as a guide? What can you learn from their example? It’s about thinking, “While this isn’t working as quickly as I want, what can I learn from this?”
“At Last Exhaustion”
Traditionally, in a narrative, an inciting incident is the crucial plot point that thrusts the protagonist into a journey that leaves them completely and utterly changed. When it comes to focusing on slow growth, Mary feels like there is an inciting incident that most entrepreneurs first need to hit, and that is “at last exhaustion.”
No matter how hard you run, you can’t outrun yourself. So in that moment of “at last exhaustion” or breathlessness, there is a sense of surrender. It’s as if you are saying, “Okay, I’ve tried to do things the fast way the world is showing me. I’ve tried to find wholeness in all these things they tell me matter. And, the more that I try to chase, the emptier I feel.”
Mary believes “at last exhaustion” is often the catalyst for slow growth because you need to experience that sense of burnout yourself in order to truly understand and believe that you can go slow.
You have to realize that you don’t need to achieve your way into your worth. Once you’ve come to terms with that, you’ll likely be more open to the idea of slow growth.
Your Worth & Your Work
According to Mary, the number one way to get out of your own head is to start serving other people.
In her book, she talks about two versions of herself. The first of these is calm. This version is at peace with herself and knows what she is called to do and how she can be of service to others. That version of herself is nestled inside another version she calls insatiable. And, for that version, nothing is ever enough or fulfilling.
We are wired to be of service. With this in mind, Mary suggests leaning into the calm version of yourself and finding a way to be able to use your gifts as a way to service others.
Furthermore, she explains the importance of being able to define yourself without your achievements. What does it look like to be able to walk into a room and introduce yourself without relying on your accomplishments? Who are you without these goals and accolades?
When you can understand that and lean into serving others, you can get out of your head and stop trying to achieve your worth.
Be sure to listen to this whole episode (at the top of the page or wherever you listen to podcasts) to hear more about Mary’s thoughts on the importance of embracing slow growth and strong roots as a small business. If you’d like to connect with Mary, you can visit her website https://marymarantz.com/ or find her on Instagram (@marymarantz).
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Check Out Mary Marantz’s Book Dirt
- Check Out Mary Marantz’s Book Slow Growth Equals Strong Roots
- Find Out What Type of Achiver You Are
- Receive 50% Off Your First Year of HoneyBook
- Learn More About Treefrog’s Small Business Marketing Resources & Services
- Join the Priority Pursuit Facebook Community
- Follow or DM Treefrog Marketing on Instagram
- Follow or DM Kelly Rice on Instagram
- Follow or DM Victoria Rayburn on Instagram
The Priority Pursuit Podcast is a podcast dedicated to helping small business owners define, maintain, and pursue both their personal and business priorities so they can build lives and businesses they love.
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