January 2012
Allowing growth

I am particularly drawn to the word “allow” these days, in contrast to “make” – as in “making it happen.”

I don’t mean allow as in permissive. I mean allow from the perspective of giving space for something to unfold.

Growth happens in a bonsai once certain conditions are met. Something inside the plant reacts to certain conditions in the natural environment, in concert with the efforts of the plant’s caretaker. The dance of these elements creates the bonsai.

I recall from my corporate days the mantra of “making it happen.” Think about that. How much can you really “make happen” in business, or life?  Making it happen often leads to forcing it to happen, and frequently, with less than desirable results.

This is s a subtle distinction, but an important one. We can influence things to happen, but we need to be careful not to over estimate how much we actually make things happen.

I remember an old business mentor of mine early in our history observing our company’s practices, and quipping to me over lunch:  “If you just keep doing business the way you are, you will get to a point when the business will come to you.”  And he was right.

In business, often the push to profit leads to shortcuts, which undermine long-term growth and viability. Patience allows roots to deepen for a healthier organism. I am not advocating for passivity, only to balance agency with allowing natural growth to unfold.