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The Journey to Becoming an Effective Leader: My Painful Growing Stage

By Joey Havens

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In previous weeks, I have reflected on the first two stages of finding true purpose as described by Jon Gordon in his intriguing book, The Seed. The third stage that he identifies in the search of true purpose is the growing stage. This phase is where I really began to feel my roots take hold and spread. It was in this stage that I began to nurture and influence more people, while new people began to nurture and influence me. 

Why is the growing stage so painful? I think for me, it is because I could see myself becoming the person I was born to be and yet there were unforeseen barriers and setbacks that were very painful.According to Gordon, “You will experience nourishment that helps you grow in order to reach the final stage. And you will be pruned like a bush and experience things that appear to be setbacks but are really designed to help you fully grow into all you are meant to become. You will experience moments when you say you are on the right path and you will also experience challenges and face people who test your will and make you doubt yourself and your path.”  

I am passionate about growth and reaching my full potential, and I have experienced lots of painful pruning along the way. Growth is a critical stage, and too many people give up or draw back when they experience a significant pruning. Here are a few of the pruning experiences that really helped me grow.

Shortly after becoming the leader of one of our focus areas, I agreed to some 360 degree feedback from my team during our strategic planning process. I found out that I was not the fantastic leader I thought I was. I was making lots of mistakes and it was hurting my ability to lead the team. Their feedback helped me understand that truly caring about others does not always show if we don’t know how to express it or make the time to do so. Our moderator helped me understand the feedback and the importance of self-awareness. This is the beauty of the growing stage—finding new people that help nurture and grow you.

Another painful pruning occurred when an improper activity at a firm related event took place on my watch. Although it was not ill intended, the activity put our firm’s values and integrity at risk. The board officially reprimanded me and included the discipline in my personnel file. That was the closest I ever came to giving up, the shame and lost influence was almost more than I could take. It was certainly not my proudest moment, but it was a pruning experience that made me better. I realized that I am the HORNE brand. I now understood the importance of my role in protecting the reputation of our firm.

Thank goodness, I never quit. Sometimes my inner critic caused me to doubt  HORNE the place for me, but I stayed focused on my passion and purpose. I worked constantly on my self-awareness as I continued to ask for feedback. Growing may be painful, but to reach our full potential, we have to face challenges and overcome. My growth stage prepared me to become an effective leader.

If you are in the growth stage, focus on your passions and your purpose. Focus on helping others. It is that focus and persistence that will get you through the pain of pruning. It’s never too late to start growing. Never give up. The road to your real purpose will always have bumps and potholes. In the end, it is always worth it.