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The power of slow growth

Have you ever struggled with the speed of your own success—or lack thereof? Does it ever feel like you’re stagnant, or like you’re stuck while the rest of the world is accelerating towards their dreams? Mary Marantz joins us on the Independent Business podcast to discuss the power of slow growth. 

Mary Marantz is a best-selling author, entrepreneur, and keynote speaker who has made a career out of understanding the power of growing slowly and the impact that we can have on other people’s lives as a result.

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The myth of overnight success

The myth of overnight success is overrated. Mary Marantz’s story proves it, and that you can be successful with slow growth, too. Mary grew up in a single-wide trailer in rural West Virginia and was the first in her family to go to college. She attended Yale Law School and graduated with six-figure offers in London and New York—but she turned them all down. 

During her time in school, she fell in love with a photographer and the craft of photography. They decided to launch their own photography business, and now 17 years later they’ve taken their business full time, launched other businesses, and Mary has become a best-selling author. 

The main message that Mary wants people to take away from her story is that none of it happened overnight. It was a journey and a process that took a long time. 

It’s easy to look at other people’s journeys and assume that their success came quickly and easily to them. Then, when you look back at your own journey, it feels like success is taking much longer than it should. 

When you think about the heroes, the people you want to emulate, and the stories you love to hear about someone else’s journey, the overnight success story is never the one that makes an impact. No one wants to watch a movie about overnight success; instead, you want to see the long journey it took our heroes to get to where they are today.

Why do we want overnight success?

Where did the idea of overnight success even come from in the first place? There are two answers:

  1. The echo chamber of social media. You watch the highlight reels of people’s lives instead of their daily toiling toward their success. It’s easy to assume that everything just came to them when you don’t see all the work that goes on behind the scenes. 
  1. Imposter syndrome. When you don’t feel qualified to chase your dreams or think you deserve to succeed, overnight success feels like a permission slip that lets you know you are on the right track. However, it also feeds into the never-ending, “I’ll be happy when [fill in the blank]” syndrome. You think we have to do it fast to be happy, to achieve the life that someone else has, and to feel like we belong.

What we all need to learn is that quick success will not make us feel like less of an imposter. Accolades and recognition do not take away the feeling of not being good enough. Slow growth allows you to invest in yourself, and your worth, and make the impact you really want to make on the world instead of chasing success.

The five types of achievers

In her latest book, Mary has identified five different types of achievers. You can find out your type by taking her quiz here. The five types are:

  1. The performer: cares about hitting goals to prove themselves and prove to others how far they’ve come. 
  2. The tightrope walker: doesn’t care about other people clapping for them because they can clap for themselves. However, the more they succeed, the more they have to keep succeeding to get the same hits of dopamine from their achievements. 
  3. The contortionist: doesn’t care about hitting goals as much as they care about pleasing others, and they will twist themselves into tiny tethered knots to keep others happy.
  4. The masquerader: doesn’t go after goals because they don’t want to let themselves or others down. 
  5. The illusionist: doesn’t go after goals because they can’t start until everything is perfect. 

Each achiever type has strengths and weaknesses, and learning about your type can help you develop ways to move forward when you feel stuck. 

What people get wrong about slow growth

When people learn about the concept of slow growth, they assume that there’s no such thing as “too slow.” But the truth is that you can go too far in either direction, whether that’s looking for overnight success or slowing down your growth. It’s too easy to use the idea of slow growth to let yourself get stuck or caught up in perfectionism. 

There are several ways to talk yourself into getting stuck, including:

  1. “It’s all been done by someone better than me already.”
  2. “I can’t start until it’s perfect.”
  3. “I can’t start until I know the exact blueprint and what every step along the way will look like.”
  4. “What if I start and can’t stay consistent?”
  5. “What if I don’t have the bandwidth?”
  6. “What if I get criticized?”

All of these thoughts are rooted in fear, and once you recognize this fear, you can actually take it as a sign that you are on the right track. It’s easy to think that bubble-wrapping your dreams will keep you safe, but it won’t. 

Instead, all of these fears make you spend all of your time looking inward. The way to overcome them is to look outward. Instead of asking, “What might go wrong,” ask, “Who could this help?” Successful independent business owners find joy in serving others.

Slowing down makes more room for excellence and play

One benefit to slow growth is that you can focus more on the quality of your work. If all you care about is making it on a list, like a best-seller list or a “30 under 30” list, you will sacrifice excellence to save time. 

However, even if you are the fastest person to the finish line, your work comes to the finish line with you. If you rush to release a book that ends up being all fluff, it will come to the finish line with you and maybe prevent you from getting the opportunity to write another book. Slowing down means you don’t have to compromise quality in order to get to the top faster.

There’s also science behind making more time for play as a creative. Constantly striving for more success puts you into fight or flight mode, which limits your ability to be creative and have original ideas. You also lose resiliency and humility when success comes too quickly. 

When you slow down and focus on your craft, the work will work on you. You have to commit to being a lifelong student of your craft instead of spending your time chasing success.

The biggest differentiator between businesses that succeed from the ones that fail

Mary believes that the biggest differentiator between the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail is the willingness to adapt and look beyond the first draft, and go back to the drawing board when your draft fails. The willingness to take the time necessary to pivot, evaluate the work, and adapt as needed—that’s what creates success.

Important sections of this conversation

  • [3:48] Mary’s journey as an independent business owner and the myth of overnight success
  • [8:23] Where did the idea of overnight success come from in the first place?
  • [17:33] The five different types of achievers
  • [21:45] What people get wrong about slow growth

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