Grow Where You Are Planted

Grow Where You Are Planted

“Grow where you are planted” is the best advice anyone can receive. Most people understand this concept right way, but when our careers go in a direction that is not anticipated or planned it can create self‐doubt behind whether or not we are “growing.”

Understandably, we feel anxiety when we are thrown in into positions that we did not request or anticipate, but the good news is that there is no set path or template to success. We define our own success and ultimately everything hinges on our performance.

To put things into perspective, Gen. Holmes mentioned in Leadership as a Domain Podcast #9, he thought the military was trying to signal to him that his career was over when he was selected as a Training Squadron Commander because typically high performing fighter pilots are assigned a flying squadron for command. But, this was not the case and he continued to grow where he was planted, which translated into a very successful career.

Assessment Techniques: The two main ways to assess progress is through feedback and reflection.

For perspective, the most contentious form of feedback is stratification. Everyone is concerned about being stratified, but there are a limited number of strats because leaders normally do not stratify below the top 10%‐15%.

This leaves the majority of us feeling ambiguous about our level of “growth”, but the best thing we can do is to not worry about our stratification.

There are many people who are not stratified initially, but earn one through consistent excellent performance. The key thing to understand is that we cannot control how leadership stratifies, but we can always control our performance. The advice, “grow where you are planted,” helps us focus on the things we can control.

The second way to tell if we are growing is through reflection. Here are some questions that help the reflection process:

  • Am I doing everything that I can to be the best at my primary duty and ensure my team is the best at their primary duties? If not, what percentage of my day do I devote to this?
    • Is there any friction? – This can be with processes or relationships.
  • Am I solving my boss’s boss’s problems? Am I proposing solutions and not problems? Are these actions in line with my organization’s vision?
  • Do I bring value to my organization? What level of impact do I have?
  • What am I doing to challenge myself? Do I feel uncomfortable? – The largest indicator of under‐ performance may be that we feel comfortable.

These questions are good techniques, but not all inclusive. Each person will have to define their own reflection process and success criteria, but if we perform to our best in all the areas we can control, it should lead to success. If not, we need to either re‐evaluate our success criteria or just keep working hard and be patient — Life is an ultra marathon, not a sprint.


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