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3 Important Lessons from a Gardener
by On September 14, 2010

I firmly believe the adage that “when the student is ready the teacher will appear.” This has happened to us all on countless occasions during our lives and often from the most unexpected of teachers.

Whether it was a lesson learned from a perceived failure, or something a mentor shared that finally took root in our mind, or the day you learned the value of loyalty from Han Solo watching the first Star Wars movie at the age of six…. Okay, that last one might only be specific to me…, there is no way I (or anyone) would learn these lessons without being ready to finally hear the message being sent.

Last week, my teacher was a proud gardener.  Let me explain….

While I was walking in my neighborhood, I had the good fortune to come across an amazing garden. Now, I know it was amazing because I don’t spend a lot of time noticing gardens, and if I noticed it, it must be pretty good. This was the kind of garden you see in magazines. Looking at it you would guess the owner spent hours and hours of time each day to keep it in the shape it was. It was truly beautiful.

The reason this is even important is because the next house I passed had a garden that was almost the polar opposite of its neighbor. Simply put, it was a wreck. The owner happened to be at this house and was diligently picking at the weeds, which seemed to me a futile effort because they were everywhere. In passing, she said with frustration that she “waited too long to prepare the garden for the season” and that she “was going be playing a lot of catch up on this garden from hell.” I agreed, and wished her luck in her efforts, but knew she was in for a lot of disappointment.

On my way back around, the owner of the “amazing garden” (who I’ll call Mr. Gardener) happened to be out watering his plants. So, after I congratulated him on his beautiful work, I asked him what he did to keep his garden is such good shape. He chuckled and said, “this is going to sound crazy, but I don’t do much anymore.” He could tell by my confused expression I didn’t believe him, so he quickly elaborated. “Of course, I spend time on upkeep, but I only need to do a little each day now to maintain what I have created.” I asked him if there was anything else he did to keep it so sharp looking, and without a second thought he said “Don’t you know, this is a prize-winning garden?” “Really?”, I asked with excitement. “No, not literally, but I treat it like it was. I believe my garden is the best in the neighborhood and as a result it is.”

Well, I thanked him for his time and, in my mind, I thanked him for the wonderful lesson he gave me and rushed home to write it down. From the most unlikely of situations and the most unlikely of people, thank you Mr. Gardener, I learned (re-learned is more like it) these three things:

  1. Get Your Hands Dirty Early
    The main difference between Mr. Gardener and his counterpart was that he put all his hard work on the front end so, he could reap the benefits on the back end. Albert E.N. Gray says that successful people “form the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.” What made Mr. Gardener’s yard a success was that simple rule.
  2. Weed Your Garden NOW!
    Whenever Mr. Gardener saw a weed he took care of it immediately. He took action and did not let any unwanted plant take root. The more we wait to accomplish the simple tasks, whether in business or in life, the more pain it causes you in the future and the bigger and more daunting the task becomes.
  3. Treat Your Business Like a Prize-Winning Garden
    Our hero had a clear vision of what his garden was going to look like and as a result settled for nothing less than a prize-winning garden. When he got it he was not surprised because he had been treating it that way from the beginning. Here is a quote I am bringing back that was extremely helpful as I started my business. “I am the best! Some may be as good as me, but no one is better. I am the best!”

Thank you Mr. Gardener.

Be Free!

David Shoup
Instructor

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