The Human Condition


“It’s part of the human condition. People like to see things grow.”

This was a line spoken at a presentation I attended recently, and it struck me as the truest thing you could say about human nature.

People like to see things grow.

Musicians want a larger fanbase. Business owners want to grow their business for eventual sale/IPO. Readers like to grow their book collection. Gamers like to get high scores. Gardeners like seeing their plants grow. Parents are proud of seeing their kids grow.

Growing is a sign of health and superiority. If something is growing, then it is usually agreed to be doing well for itself. Growth is a sign of success but, more importantly, seeing things grow is a pleasurable experience. How else can you explain the success of the Tamagotchi, The Sims, The Million Dollar Homepage, or body building? Even more, why do you think mankind’s collective unconscious is obsessed with the Tree of Life?

Consider this: creative entrepreneurs (artists, dancers, actors, writers…) and traditional business owners alike often achieve success, a comfortable living, money to support a family and hobbies, and enough socked away in savings or retirement, yet they still have the desire to grow further. Why grow for the sake of growth? Why continue to press for bigger-and-better when your present achievements are fulfilling, stress-free, and comfortable? Why grow a company to 200 employees when it is currently experiencing profound success with 50? Why buy a 3-bedroom house when your current two-bedroom is more than enough?

Because people like to see things grow.

Though this is human instinct at work, I try not to fall prey to this mindset too often. And I’m not the only one. For further reading, check out the great book by Bo Burlingham, Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big.


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