Gardens and Leaders Grow. My grandfather, affectionately known as Paw Paw, lost his battle with cancer a little over ten years ago. He was one of my heroes. He taught me about gardening and life.
In 1996, he and my grandmother (Maw Maw) purchased nine and a half acres in Canton, Georgia. The property was simply referred to as “The Land.” His prized possession at The Land was a garden. I used to spend my summers as a teenager working in the garden with him.
As I started college, a career, and a family I was not able to get up there as frequently as I once did. When he received his cancer diagnosis, I knew that I needed to make it a priority to be at the garden more that spring. I am so grateful I did and that I got to spend that final season with him. It was the last time we did a garden there.
Last fall, my uncle (who lives next to the property), my son, and I decided to resurrect Paw Paw’s Garden. Everything he taught me came flooding back like it was just yesterday. Every little technique and trick needed to get the garden going.
Here are four leadership lessons the process of preparing a garden has planted in it:
Preparing is Hard Work
Ten years is a long time for a piece of land to sit. It had been bush hogged over the years and that was about it. Root systems from small trees and shrubs had formed and needed to be removed. This required the help of a tractor and a lot of manual labor.
My son Grant is eleven years old. He was by my side through all the prep work. We tilled, we raked, we tilled, we raked. We built raised beds, made rows, laid fabric, built a fence. He received a crash course in how much work goes into preparing a garden. Preparing is not easy. It is hard work.
Preparation Pays Off
As we wrapped up the planting phase, Grant’s enthusiasm to get up early with me and make the trip to the garden started to wane. He ended up missing a few weeks of work! Then, last week he returned to the job site with me. The garden was starting to bear fruit and he got to pick.
Paw Paw was a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Despite this, he always had us plant radishes when we were young. Looking back now, I understand why. They were always the first thing we got to pick in the garden each season. It was the reward for the hard work.
Last week was a game changer for Grant because he connected the same dots. He now understands how hard work and preparation pays off. Picking is the reward in the gardening world. It connects the dots. Everything starts to make sense. Preparation pays off.
Sometimes You Have to Set Boundaries
Wildlife is an awesome creation with two exceptions. One, snakes. I do not like snakes. Two, the wildlife likes what is in the garden as much as I do. The garden sits all by itself in the middle of nine and a half acres. The only activity that takes place there is when we are present. It is wide open for all the things that can do the garden harm.
It is about a thirty-minute drive to the garden for us. With our family’s crazy schedule, we knew we could only make the trip about twice a week. Therefore, we needed to build a fence around the garden to keep things out that would prevent the garden from growing and bearing fruit.
In leadership, we must set boundaries. Those boundaries are for both things and people. They can keep things out like distractions, temptations, or wasteful demands on our time. Boundaries can also keep toxic and dependent relationships at a distance. Sometimes you need to set boundaries so that things and people do not prevent you from growing and bearing fruit in your world.
Grow Where You Are Planted
We planted every vegetable and fruit you can think of in the garden. Nothing we planted chose its location. Everything was planted according to where we thought it would grow best. Plants require three things. They require sunlight, fertile soil, and sufficient water.
We all get planted somewhere in this world. Sometimes we may not get the right sunlight, maybe the soil lacks the necessary nutrients, or it has not rained in a while and we wilt. Wilt is the horticultural term that equates to us outwardly appearing worn down and drained.
When this happens, we have two options. One, to be transplanted to a place where the sun shines better, the soil is lush with nutrients, and the rain is plentiful. We are uprooted. The second option is to take advantage of what sun you get, what little nutrients you receive, and the small amount of water you get and do the best you can to grow where you are planted.
Conclusion – Garden and Leaders Grow
I will never forget the time I spent with my grandfather in the garden. It has been an equally pleasing experience to spend time with Grant as I transfer my knowledge of gardening to him. He is experiencing the reward of the fruit that is produced from hard work and preparation. One day he will connect these valuable gardening lessons as I now have to an even bigger picture, life.
Gardens have leadership lessons planted throughout it. You just have to look for them. Gardens and Leaders Grow.
Ordinary to Extraordinary Intersection
Are you working hard to prepare? What have you worked hard to prepare for that has paid off? What boundaries are you putting in place to protect your growth? Are you growing where you are planted?