Is your leadership secure in its roots and healthy enough to withstand any storm?
The tallest tree in the world is a sequoia in northern California. It stands at 379 feet tall, which is about 7 stories higher that the Statue of Liberty. The tree is named Hyperion, and is estimated to be over 800 years old.
Like any other tree, when it first started to grow, Hyperion was small, and didn’t look much different than any other tree in the forest. But over time, it grew. New wood layers, new tree rings, new growth. It grew, and grew, and grew — until it towered over the forest.
“Leadership is the companion of wisdom.”
– Augustine of Hippo (354 AD)
It is within this metaphor that I want you to think of leadership. The tree grows DOWN first, and establishes its roots before it can begin its growth pattern upward. This process takes a tremendous amount of time, but it is the only way to ensure that the tree has the power and strength to stand up to even the roughest of wind and storms.
“When the roots are deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.”
– Chinese Proverb
We now live in a time where leaders want their tree to grow UP before giving it a chance to establish roots. What tends to happen is that when the first storm hits (we can refer to this as adversity), with heavy winds (more adversity), the tree gets knocked down. How will the tree survive if drought hits? What are the implications if the tree is infected with disease because it doesn’t have the resiliency to fight it off on its own?
But look at the tree standing proudly nearby. Absolutely no damage with the exception of a few leaves blown off. Always healthy, regardless of weather. And strong enough to withstand any disease. Why?
This tree was planted years ago; nurtured very slowly and fed regularly to ensure a solid root system. Every year, dead branches or clumped growth were trimmed in an effort to keep the tree healthy. Over the years, the tree grew both in diameter and height. This tree was well-maintained. This tree was cultivated to be able to remain upright regardless of the adversity it may face.
Now compare those two trees to the way you have invested in your leadership skills, abilities and knowledge. Have you devoted the patience, integrity, and endurance to the process? Are your roots firmly established? Do you know your purpose? Are you – and your team – willing to withstand the storms of adversity and change?
Leadership is an internal quality, not an external one. All of your growth will occur “within”. Invest the effort in yourself to build your character and confidence, and as a result . . .
The Devil whispered in my ear, “You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.” Today I whispered in the Devil’s ear, “I am the storm.”