I was walking along the pasture at the Honeydo Ranch this week and I noticed the large majestic trees that abound. They are so tall, strong, old, and beautiful. That got me to thinking about the mighty oak stories most of us heard as children. All of these oak trees that we see and for that matter any tree that we see, no matter how large, strong, and proud all began as a small seed.
I recently read a story that illustrated this point even more. A small child can easily rip a sapling from the ground, but a hurricane struggles to pull a mature oak tree from the ground. What makes up the difference between the mighty oak and the oak sapling? Time. Experience. A firm foundation.
What makes a good leader? A good team? A good person? Time. Experience. A firm foundation. In today's society, we, and I include myself in the "we", lack patience. We lack what the King James Bible refers to as longsuffering. We have evolved into a drive-up lane society. It's like the popular television commercial from a few years ago: "It's my money and I want it now!" We all want to be a good leader, now! We all want to lead a good team, now! We all want a firm foundation, without the time and experience it takes to build that foundation.
Back to the mighty oak. What you and I see above the surface of the ground is majestic. The tree towers dozens of feet above the earth and the tree canopy extends out in all directions. The tree provides shelter for all sorts of living creatures, provides shade, cools the Earth, and cleans the air so we can breathe. What we don't see is the glorious foundation beneath the Earth's surface. The amazing root structure that extends out in every direction to provide the foundation for the tree to thrive. The root system brings in nutrients from the Earth around it and holds the tree in place during times of trouble.
The mighty oak has so many lessons to teach us, if we would just open our eyes and ears to hear them. The lesson I took from my walk in the pasture is that it takes time to be a good leader. It takes experience. It takes growing professionally on a firm foundation. I get tickled at the amount of leaders I meet that lack the experience they need to be successful, but they demand it now. I feel a bit of disappointment for leaders who through their haste to get to the top of the mountain, fail to realize the importance of building and growing a firm foundation through a process of continuous improvement and growth.
Too many of our college educated brethren did not understand the meaning of commencement. Many believe that when they left the hallowed halls of their university they were now a mighty oak. Commencement means to begin. We all emerge as saplings. It takes time, professional development, networking, and experience to grow into a good leader, to develop a good team, to develop that firm foundation.
What keeps you planted in the ground safely and securely, when the storms come? A firm foundation. Be a lifelong learner. Invest in yourself. Your growth will benefit you, your team, and our world. You too have the potential to be a mighty oak, it just takes time.
Stay blessed and keep shining!