Growth and Protection is the name of a chapter in the must-read book by Dr. Bruce Lipton, The Biology of Belief. He states in his book that growth and protection mechanisms are the fundamental behaviors required for an organism (or a society) to survive.
And to illustrate briefly what he means by growth and protection, imagine the following scenario. You are living in a farm house that is in the path of a killer tornado. You hear the siren – warning you of the danger. With your heart pumping fast, you gather your family and climb down into the cellar, deep below the ground. A minute later you hear the roar of the tornado as it passes overhead. Your ears pop from the change in air pressure. You hear deafening loud noises as your house above is being destroyed. Finally it is quiet and you climb up the ladder from the cellar and discover that your house is gone.
In this scenario, when you gathered your family and retreated into the cellar, you were in a protection mode. And it was necessary for your survival. But the growth mechanism is also required for your survival. For instance, eating is part of growth. If you don’t eat, you don’t live. And if you stay in the cellar too long, you will starve to death.
Growth takes energy, but it creates the fuel for our energy. When we go to work each day, we are expending energy, but it provides us an income so we can eat. It also stimulates further growth from the interactions with others. And expending more energy and doing a job well normally leads to more job responsibilities with greater challenges with opportunities for even more growth.
Lipton, who is a biologists, uses a cellular analogy to further explain the two modes of operating:
When I was cloning human endothelial cells, they retreated from toxins that I introduced into the culture dish, just as humans retreat from mountain lions and muggers in dark alleys. They also gravitated to nutrients, just as humans gravitate to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and love. These opposing movements define the two basic cellular responses to environmental stimuli. Gravitating to a life-sustaining signal, such as nutrients, characterizes a growth response; moving away from threatening signals, such as toxins, characterizes a protection response.
So you can see that living in modes of growth and protection are both important for our survival. The trouble comes when we don’t use our consciousness to tell us when one mode of living is appropriate and beneficial and when it is not.
This principle of growth and protection can also be applied to business. There might be times when it is appropriate to reduce expenses — not going to the convention, not giving a raise, not upgrading the operating system, not hiring more employees — but it must be seen by the decision makers that this is a very short term state of affairs. We are here to grow. And if we need to go into a protection mode, it is only so that we can see another day for growing.
Back to our cellar analogy — imagine what would happen to your family if a tree fell on the cellar door and you were not able to get out, unless someone discovered that you were trapped. You wouldn’t be able to live in that type of existence for very long. Speaking metaphorically, when we are in the cellar, we are safe, temporarily, but we are not growing as human beings. And if we play it safe too long, we will perish.
So often in life, we are presented with two choices. One choice is always the safer of the two, but that is not necessarily the best choice. I remember the saying, “A ship is safe in the harbor, but that is not what it is made for.”
When you find yourself retreating from a perceived threat, make sure that the threat is real. And don’t stay hidden for too long. For that too is dangerous.