A big thank you to Graeme Frauenfelder for his contribution to the Being More Human blog!
Imagine I decide to create a business of growing apples. I want to minimise my inputs and expenses and maximise my gains and profits. Of course I want to harvest more apples on my trees than everyone else.
So I make a goal setting plan. Plant the trees now, then expect them to each produce ten apples in the first year, 50 in the second, then 200 in the third. Soon the trees will be large and I set a goal of 500 each a year. Of course that’s not how to do it. Who knows how many apples each tree will produce?
Focussing on the measurable numbers and goals in this case is quite ridiculous. The real aims and actions aren’t focussed on the measurable statistics.
First I choose quality plants. Then plant them in the best conditions possible. I do whatever it takes to continually nourish and nurture them. If I have someone caring for the orchard I choose someone who loves working with organic things. We don’t use the cheapest fertiliser, rather choose what suits best for the plant and the soil. We give the trees the best chance of growing, flourishing and being healthy. I also want to make sure I nourish and value my assistant so that I bring the best out of them.
Who knows how many apples each of our trees will produce in the first, second or any year. Those kind of goals are random and out of touch with the nature of organic growth. If a tree doesn’t produce enough to meet my goals in any year there is no use in giving myself a hard time for not meeting goals. It is not going to do any good berating the tree for not living up to expectations. It would be silly to axe the tree because it isn’t perfect enough for my desires. Even speaking kindly and encouraging the trees to be the best they can be isn’t likely to make much difference! They need tangible, practical nourishment and care.
To focus on and keep measuring the trees output, which is the easiest statistic to measure, and demand it produce more is folly!
The prime focus needs to be on nourishing and supporting the trees in every way possible to maximise their potential and give them the best possible conditions and support to grow. It’s also important to nourish and nurture the person or people who care for the orchard so they are in the best emotional, physical, social and mental state to give all the care to the plants that they need. Not as a duty but as an act of long term care and providing meaning and satisfaction.
Sometimes the trees will need pruning. Sometimes expenses will be incurred willingly, not begrudgingly, for protecting the orchard from predators or threats or to counter droughts.
However many apples are produced in a year is dependent on many factors.
Meeting a goal from each tree about how much it produces is actually the least of our concerns and focus of attention. Doing whatever it takes to make each apple tree the healthiest it can be, and the same with those who tend it, will be the most significant determining factor of how well the trees flourish and produce.
Life and business generally suit an organic model much more than a linear mechanistic one.
The questions we need to be asking most as leaders in businesses and social services are the ones that are harder to measure, but have far more impact on how well and how much we produce as a group or team.
How fertile is the soil in which we are growing our business and how can we enrich it?
How do we choose the best plants that we want to grow our fruit, our results, from?
How do we nurture and nourish every aspect of our business?
What can we do to fill up those who in any way are related to our business whether direct employees and leaders or others who we don’t directly manage daily (such as suppliers, clients and consultants)?
How can we create an environment, physical, emotional and social, that is most conducive to do our work in?
How can we care for the non human tools and technologies that we use rather than cutting corners and pushing them to their limits or not maintaining them well?
How do we create and reshape policies and procedures so that they are most conducive to flourishing of our people and organisation, leading towards health and growth?
If we focus on creating the best and most healthy environment and culture for our “plant” to grow, then we will find that the “fruit” is productive and plentiful. Some seasons it will be more than others and we go with that flow. But without paying prime attention to nurture and nourishment, and if we focus on trying to extract and force the fruit to be produced, our businesses and services will not live into their full potential.
If we want to do well, nurture, nourish, care for and focus on the growth of the individuals and the culture within our businesses and organisations.
Build into the business practices and processes what is conducive to the healthiest growth. Healthy plants in healthy environments inevitably produce quality fruit. Nourishing, flourishing, healthy and enriching workplace cultures, teams and individuals create quality outcomes.
More than ever, our workplaces, businesses, educational institutions and governments need to move from the mechanistic models of extracting and demanding results to an organic paradigm of nurture and nourishment.
What can you do right now or today to start with nurturing and nourishing you, then those around you and on your team, and those you deal with? Watch the change! Enjoy the beautiful quality fruit that naturally emerges. As long as people like and want the fruit you have, you are set to go and grow and to flourish deliciously!