Why does everything have to grow?

I know that this is not a particularly ground-breaking idea, but… why do companies, ideas, projects have to grow to be considered successful?

Why is not okay for anything to just be the size it is now, the size it was two days after it started to be a success?

I really don’t have an answer to this, but it appears that the urge to grow things is perhaps at the root of many of problems that we face.

Let’s say that I start a company that builds widgets. These widgets are really great and they solve a whole load of problems. People find out about my widgets and they want to buy them. I’ve achieved success! I designed and created the widgets to sell them. Now I’m selling them, so I’m a success.

But there’s the rub… I’m not really a success, am I? I can see that it would be better if I could sell more widgets to more people. How many more? I don’t know. All I know is that people love my widgets and I ought to get as many of them into the hands of people as possible.

This is the dilemma, right? There’s no way of getting off this train. The kernel of my idea is that I want to sell widgets, but there’s no metric telling me that if I sell X number of widgets, I’ve succeeded. Behind this hill of sales is a larger hill, and behind that hill, there’s a mountain. Behind that mountain, there’s a larger mountain.

Implicit in this idea is that there really is no limit. The only badge of success is that I sell more widgets this month / year, whatever than the previous month / year. That’s success. More sales today than yesterday. Anything else is a failure.

The number is the point. If yesterday it was 12, tomorrow it must be 13 or more. If I get to 500, it must be 600… and so on.

Imagine this writ-large, with companies that are shifting 30, 40, 50 million, billion widgets a year. What do they do? They have to grow, because that’s the measure of success.

Now throw into the mix the fact that each of my widgets is slightly bad for the environment in knowable ways. It’s produced in conditions, and in places, that are less that ideal, in knowable ways. It goes out of date in knowable timescales, and will need to be replaced.

This is less than ideal. This is less that optimal. This is not sustainable. But it is what we’ve got.

I’m curious about how we got here. How did we all get caught up in getting the latest widget? How did the latest widget become some important to us all? Was it adverts? Was it influencers? Was it really that good?

I have a feeling that we need to address this. That we need to concern ourselves with the fact that we cannot sell everything to everyone. That we need to limit what we think is acceptable / possible.

This rubs against a lot, I know.

I’d appreciate your thoughts…