One of my best friends is named Jules.
All of our friends have at least one nickname. Jules is the "Oak Tree" - solid, rooted enough to keep the rest of us grounded, beautiful, natural and unwavering. She's lots of other things too: funny, kind, smart, and last but not least: Colin Powell's biggest fan.
I am the up-for-anything friend, the one you call for lunch or bail. And I am completely supportive of anyone's passion (although I don't try understand them all.) So when the Oak Tree called me because Colin Powell was coming to San Francisco, I was happy to ride shotgun to the Bay. (Let's be honest, I drove. Trees are awesome, but they don't handle one-way streets well.)
The General came out, right after Rudy Giuliani & Steve Forbes. Jules was giving the him a Standing O, cheering and clapping & yelling and whatever, and I was thinking: I sure hope this dude lives up to her expectations and says somethin' she can believe in, or this'll be an EPIC letdown.
He spoke about the importance of leadership, and the one truth he sees so many military & business leaders ignore: that "Pruning is Part of the Process."
He went on to say that he would never hire or promote someone who couldn't fire anyone who needed it. As a farm kid, this all made perfect sense to me - of course you have to prune! It's how you control yield & quality. It's how you keep plants healthy. Hell, a bad pruning job can ruin years of growth. Jules was just as excited after we left the Cow Palace as she was when we showed up. We decided Zig Ziglar is much cooler than we thought he was too. I came home and added Colin Powell's pruning quote to my quote board.
I walked by the quote board yesterday - months after we saw the speech, and the pruning quote was on top. A flood of thoughts about knocked me down. How many of the problems or issues in our lives are directly caused by a fear or lack of pruning?
- How many relationships with folks who aren't really our friends take time and energy away from the people who are?
- Is a diseased branch killing your tree? Just because you're friends with (or related to) someone doesn't mean you should work/coach/live together - can you prune the troubled part of the relationship before the whole things dies?
- How successful could your business be if the person bringing down work levels & team moral wasn't there? Or how much happier would you be if you looked forward to what you did for work - even if you made less?
- What parts of your life or business are you not good at running? If you gave up the responsibility (and control) of those tasks to someone who can do them well, how much more productive could you both be?
- What could careful, thoughtful pruning in each area of your life yield, once the roots have expanded and the sun has touched the remaining leaves?
I think the art to life, much like a grapevine, may be in the pruning. Just some fruit for thought from a G-Free Foodie -