LEADER’S FIELD GUIDE
Recently, I had the good fortune of visiting Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, USA. Over 1000 acres of botanic gardens, woodlands, and meadows surround various choreographed water fountains. I was captivated by the flowers in bloom and the various horticulture. Yet, what left the biggest impression on me was the Bonsai Tree Display. Bonsai, pronounced BONE-sigh, means planted in a container. The Asian technique of grooming trees grown in small planters results in a miniaturized, but realistic representation of the full-grown variety.
As part of the Bonsai technique, pruning and wiring is known as Training. “A funny name,” I thought, “for breaking habits or inspiring growth in a specific direction.” Or is it?
“Essentially, there are two different techniques: maintenance-pruning, to maintain and refine the existing shape of a Bonsai – and structural-pruning, which involves more rigorous pruning to give a tree its basic shape or style.” ~Empire Bonsai
Of course, I immediately related my own growth to past experiences resulting in maintenance pruning (breaking habits) and structural pruning (changing directions)! Think back, any specific examples come to mind? What about missing out on a great opportunity because you’re behind on email or looking for a new position because the corporate culture didn’t match your values.
A few other characteristics of Bonsai training caught my attention:
- Training starts at any age. Bonsai training can begin with a tiny seedling or a 100-year-old-tree. In fact, small plaques on each tree display the year training began, not the biological age of the plant! Remember, ageism (or prejudice based on a person’s age) has no bearing on when to start training or expectations on potential growth.
- Bigger is not better. Being bigger does not always imply greater significance. While loud bravado may indicate power or aptitude, a humble confidence can also express authority and skill. Remember, physical size, monetary worth, and amount of experience does not indicate a person’s potential influence or competence.
- Patient adjustments yield results. A Bonsai expert alters a tree’s growth by anchoring limbs with wire, called Wiring. The thin metal wire steadily pulls on a tiny branch forcing it to grow in a specific direction, yet it is wrapped loosely enough to allow room for growth. Remember, structural change may not happen immediately, but constant encouragement and room for development creates a new outcome over time.
I explored the expanse of Longwood Gardens for hours, and from the fifty indoor and outdoor venues, I learned most from the Bonsai trees. I was reminded that intentional encouragement can prune habits and create substantial change. I was also reminded to disregard age, size, and time in my own development and that of others.
— Join a Synergy Group where we will discuss what the
Bible says about Bonsai Trees. —
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She hosts global masterminds, called Synergy Groups, for REALLY BUSY Christians leading with powerful confidence and humble hearts. She works with high-performing leaders focused on organizational effectiveness by refining strategy, inspiring teams, and delighting clients. Michelle specializes in the areas of information technology, project management, franchise management, and business as mission. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 21 years.