by Kyle Malnati
For quite some time, I had a simple piece of copier paper in my office that was fastened to the side of my file cabinet with a magnet. I had intentionally positioned the piece of paper in such a way that I couldn’t avoid it when I walked through my office door. I had no choice but to read it EVERY day. The words that were inscribed onto that paper were large bold letters and it read, “Growth: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
This weekend has been full of anticipation for my family. Our oldest daughter, Charlotte, started 1st grade on Thursday, and our twins, Amelia and Henry, start full-day kindergarten at the very same school on Monday. Five years ago we were in a constant state of being overwhelmed and sleep deprived. When you have three children in the span of just 16 months, you mostly do whatever it takes to survive. I can remember dragging myself out of bed at 4 a.m. to change diapers and feed the twins, because Courtney had already done the midnight shift while I was sleeping. I would leave for work at 5 a.m. most days to try and get a head start. Life with babies is tough enough, but having three under the age of two was a tremendous challenge.
Today, we realize that we’ve made it. We’ve made it past thousands of diapers that we had to change. We’ve made it past having to leave restaurants regularly because they didn’t have three high chairs or because someone was having a knock-down, drag-out screaming fit while we were having dinner. We’ve made it past using hand-me-down furniture to barricade the entrance to our dining room that was converted into a playroom for three toddlers.
Somehow, our family is BOTH excited and sad as we embark on this next phase of life: elementary school. Growing up is literally painful and very uncomfortable. Our 5-year old son woke up crying in the middle of the night this weekend, because he had growing pains in his legs. I didn’t wake up… I never seem to wake up anymore… I can sleep through anything. Courtney woke up to comfort him. She let Henry know that he would be okay and that even though his legs were hurting, the pain would eventually pass.
Ironically, Courtney also felt the pain of growing this weekend as we were tucking all of the kids into bed. She has been working hard (really on overdrive) for the last five years. Courtney ended her career in finance to tackle the demands of raising our three little goobers. In a very symbolic way, she is also graduating and starting a new phase of life. Courtney has an amazing personality; she is fairly reserved, soft-spoken, sweet, and kind. However, she’s very practical and can be tough/stern which is why she was successful in finance. As Courtney was putting the twins to bed, she started crying. This doesn’t happen a lot… Courtney’s friends sometimes poke fun that she is rarely the one that’s prone to tears. Sure, she has emotions but something must be really wrong when she cries. This made both Amelia and Henry start crying at the sight of their mother’s tears.
Each of the twins asked Mommy why she was crying. Courtney’s response was genuine, “I’ll miss you while you’re at “big kid” school everyday.” Each of our five year old’s response was natural, “I’m happy to stay home with you, Mama!” We all know that we can’t stay at home. Everyone benefits by getting out of our comfort zone.
Our growth spurts in life are necessary, but can be uncomfortable and painful. Stretching yourself is frightening and you know this because of who you are today. The last time that you grew, you stretched yourself into a person that no longer fits into the old way… your old body. It takes a while to get used to your new body, but you eventually learn that the “new you” is taller, stronger, and smarter.
For family business owners, entrepreneurs, and real estate professionals, its natural to want control over the outcome. I look back at all of the times I’ve taken risks, and scary as the new venture may have been at times, the decision to GROW has worked out… usually for the better. Craig Groeschel, Senior Pastor of Life.Church, was recently interviewed on the EntreLeadership podcast about the subject of growing an organization. Pastor Craig is renowned for operating one of the largest Christian churches in America with over 70,000 attendees each weekend at 26 different campuses. He is not only a gifted preacher, but he is also an amazing non-profit business leader. During his interview, Craig Groeschel made a comment that everyone needs to hear, “you can have control or you can have growth, but you CAN’T HAVE BOTH!”
As you embark towards new horizons, I want you to remember that growing pains are natural and they largely shape us for who we need to become. Growing pains are the side effect of our training for the next challenge. I would encourage you to pray, research, and gain wisdom from others when it feels like life is drawing you in a new direction. Give your next destination careful consideration and prudently plan before you make your move. Please also remember that you won’t be able to predict every step of your journey; some of it must be accomplished by “learning as you go.” Once you feel that you’re thoroughly informed about the decision, have the confidence to step into your new adventure.