Growth – GCF Core Value

Each month, we reflect on a GCF value with our staff and spend some time thinking about how we intentionally put it into practice. This month, I was asked to share my reflections on the value of growth.

Growth: We are always a work in progress.

Growth is so important to organizations and individuals. If you are not growing, you are languishing. Vibrant, relevant and dynamic organizations grow every day. But, what does that growth look like?

Often times, we think of growth in a very traditional way. I’ll call this “up and to the right” growth. This kind of growth is linear and somewhat predictable. No doubt, it is vital to many areas of our work like fundraising and growing our donor base, counting grants out the door and tracking the attendance at our events. But, it’s only one way to experience growth.

Non-Linear Growth.

This happens when we encourage ourselves to learn from the people and the process in a more organic way. It occurs when we are on one path, but then something sparks a new idea or we have an insight that takes our learning path in a different direction. It helps our thinking grow over time as new information is synthesized and discussed. We see this every day at GCF – from our work on affordable housing to technology projects that require new pivots as they unfold. Even if this growth can’t be captured elegantly, it is essential to staying relevant and flexible.

Growth also happens through failure.

I have a quote in my office from Nelson Mandela that reads, “I never lose. I either win or learn.” That sentiment helps me reframe times when I have come up short and figure out how I can grow from it. This kind of growth can be painful. It forces a lot of introspection and candid conversations about what went wrong. Were false assumptions made? Did we consult the right people? What do we need to do differently to win? Linear growth can be fun and easy to measure; this kind growth is gritty. It prepares you for future challenges. When you learn from failure, the lessons can be deep and memorable. Give your failure meaning… grow from it.

Growth happens in our mindset!

As we acquire knowledge through conferences, peer learnings and life experiences, our minds expand. Having a growth mindset is a critical skill. Stanford professor Carol Dweck describes a growth mindset as people who “feel their skills and intelligence can be improved with effort and persistence. They embrace challenges, persist through obstacles, learn from criticism and seek out inspiration in other’s success.” No matter what our role or area of the organization, we can all possess a growth mindset. As people open themselves up to growth, the organization pulses with new energy.

Growth happens in our hearts.

As we develop empathy and connection with our co-workers and our community, our hearts grow. We internalize the work and it gives us more passion for what we do. It’s not us and them, it’s all us – fighting the good fight for each other because our hearts demand it. Let your heart grow.

As we embrace growth in our work this month, let’s recognize all the ways it happens and how it helps us thrive. 


Learn more about GCF’s Core Values