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Shrink before you grow

Dec 7, 2022 | Insights

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Shrinking can feel highly debilitating, so neutralise the impact, recover and return to personal or business growth.
Our local College has been through a bit of a rough time in recent years. Five heads in five years, safeguarding issues and poor standards led to a fall in staff and student numbers and a terrible press. As a result, the school shrank to a point where many feared it might fail.

However, a new and energetic board of governors and senior leadership team, appointed to turn things around, focused on core activities. Pupils became happier, exam results improved, and the College’s reputation recovered. As a result, the College received a clean health bill. 

Looking ahead, the governors have developed a long-term strategic plan for growth in standards and size, and the College is again a force to be reckoned with in local and national educational circles.

Shrinking is counter-intuitive

Life and business projects often go awry. Examples include people and institutions making mistakes, finding themselves on the downhill slope, and falling fast. It could be for several reasons, from poor management to an unfortunate slip of the tongue.

Shrinkage is often the result. For example, you might make a strategic decision to withdraw and rethink, or the trend could be due to the reaction of clients, members or friends who withdraw their support.

Whatever the reason, becoming smaller feels uncomfortable because, at heart, we want to grow. However, the feeling can be highly debilitating, so it is crucial to neutralise the impact and work out how to recover and return to personal or business growth.

In the equestrian world, riders who fall off their horse are encouraged to get straight back up before fear overwhelms them, and they never ride again

How to get back on your horse

There are a couple of things you can do to recover.

First, look ahead, and preferably well ahead to a long-term aspiration. For example, our local College created a long-term strategic vision that gives everyone a sense of purpose and direction and helps those mired in dealing with short-term problems to see the value of their work.

Second, look to others for inspiration and encouragement. Music can be a great help, with many songs telling the story of a fall and recovery.

Songs like Orchard Road by Leo Sayer are great for this. The song tells the story of a failed relationship and life shrinking:

I’ve been struck by such bad luck
I need a place, a little happiness
and some love…
Not much been happening here
I think I got a job
They’re going to call me next week.

And then, out of the blue…

What’s that, tomorrow at two?
You’re kidding me, no?
Is it alright with you?
I don’t know what to say
It’ll be like a holiday…
I’m coming home.

Or try The Lotus Eaters’ classic First Picture of You.

The first picture of you
The first picture of summer
Seeing the flowers scream their joy.”

We’ve all been there. We’ve all got at least one tee shirt.

Don’t be defeated.

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