I’ve spent several days staring at trees since the hurricane, which I believe has caused great concern for my neighbors. In particular, I’ve been observing the trees that have been left exposed in our acreage due to missing oaks.
Here’s what I’ve noticed – trees that are planted closely together grow opposite directions so that they can each reach the sun without growing into each other. A tree on the right will have most of its foliage on the right side, while the tree on the left will have most of its branches and foliage on the left side. The trees both thrive, adjusting to each other so both can get the sun they need.
While this observation is not exactly Einstein-worthy, here’s how I apply it to people. I watch real people, in real organizations, fighting for attention. Like those trees, they are reaching out to receive the warmth of recognition for a job well done.
Unfortunately, we don’t tend to make room for each other. Instead, we fight for exactly the same ground, reaching up towards the “sun” in the same direction. We often aren’t satisfied receiving just part of the light . . . we want it all.
Eventually, we can only get the attention we want if we attempt to destroy the other person or concept.
Due to this destructive behavior, corporations fail to become a forest of ideas and innovation. Instead, they become barren plots of land, with small ideas that never reach their full potential. People become exhausted, because, like trees, we need each other.
Sharing the light gives us all energy. Helping others, research shows, actually makes us happier. Therefore, I can only assume that tearing each other down makes us less happy. It certainly causes greater loneliness.
Next time you’re battling for position in a meeting, let somebody else have a little bit of the light. If they reach for recognition, branch off into another topic or area and allow them the space.
We can all exist together if we will simply make room. There’s plenty of light and recognition for each of us. Believe it or not, if you adjust for somebody, they will adjust for you. Most of the time. And, if they don’t, then the company has a culture that rewards the wrong things and you might want to find a better environment anyway.
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