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Do the gardening….

December 14, 2011

It’s that time of year (at least in the UK), when we look out at our gardens and make resolutions for tidying up and putting it to bed for the winter; looking forward to the spring shoots.

It’s the time of year when we do the pruning and notice the bare structures that are left when the leaves have fallen and the flowers have long since faded.

It’s the time when we can take a step back and notice what is there without the busyness of the garden’s life taking over. And now, without the illusion of transient growth, it’s the time when we can know whether the garden’s architecture is strong enough to function as a thing of beauty in it’s own right; when we can really understand what is adding value to the beauty of the garden, what is overgrown and where the bare patches are.

So what if you took a moment to think about your life and your work; the team you lead and the organsiation or business you work in? When you strip  back the hustle and bustle, the busy-ness that we occupy our selves with,  what is left? What does the structure look like? What is supporting the architecture of your growth? Where are the bare patches and what is overgrown?

A beautiful garden is a mixture of architecture  (the structures) and transient planting, that brings seasonal interest.  Often, it is easy to get distracted and obsessed by the riot of colours brought by the other seasons; the cheerful spring flowers, the acid brights of summer and the warmth of autumn, but  when winter comes and the garden is dormant, we realise that there is nothing there to carry it through. If we are not careful and plan for when the blooms are gone  we may find that there is nothing left and the intoxicating, heady scents of summer are but a memory.

It is easy to get possessed by sheer speed of life, spending so much time planting  more and more until it is full to the brim, and the garden becomes so choked with life, that ironically our prize specimens cease to grow at all.  Sometimes take a step back and think about how the structures we have support us both in life and your work, asking the questions:

  • What is supporting your growth?
  • What has become overgrown and has now had its time?
  • What is the seasonal interest that needs nurturing?
  • And when the season’s over, what is left?

A garden that stands the test of time is just as beautiful (and sometimes more so) when the blooms are not disguising what is  inherently there.

The structures that we hold are where our authenticity lives. It’s our values and beliefs. It’s in how we nurture the relationship with our staff as well as the customers who pay our bills. It’s in what underpins how we do what we do and it’s in what others see of us. We can sometimes fool ourselves with the gloss of high summer and it can sometimes be seductive to others, but we know it is just a moment in the season. The most beautiful flowers sometimes only lasting a day. And when the moment has passed the time will come to stand back and  ask ourselves, what are the jobs to be done?

What needs pruning and cutting back?

What has had it’s day and needs digging out?

What needs sheltering from the winds, feeding and protecting until the weather is more favourable?

and most of all

How will the structures that I am laying out now stand the test of time and be a thing of beauty in their own right?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 26, 2013 5:05 pm

    With his conspiratorial we, Eliot invites the reader to enter with him into the garden. Like the thrush, the garden which appears real but is not takes us in. The garden is not real, first of all, because it is fashioned from Eliot’s mind; secondly, the poem’s grammatical past suggests that if it ever existed it no longer does. The inhabitants of the garden are no doubt an allusion to Dante’s inhabitants of the underworld. These mysterious, invisible “they” associated with the dead leaves also seem dead. They are the ghosts of the past whose presence the artist always feels, according to Eliot in “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” spirits of those dying generations.

  2. December 30, 2011 5:11 pm

    I love this post. I am an avid gardener but also nearing my birthday so this time is filled with much self-reflection.

    • December 31, 2011 12:48 pm

      Thank you so much. I think it is that time of year for reflection….I recently had a ‘milestone’ birthday which caused me to rethink some of the things I do – I am now having a time of doing things to be ‘disapproved of’ – which is quite liberating as I have a tendency to please others….I recently read a review of the lives of Rebecca West and Dorothy Thompson who were described as having innate self-belief and fearlessness….now I would want a bit of that in my structure…(may’be a subject of a future blog!). Wishing you much joy from your reflections….

  3. December 13, 2011 11:40 pm

    Great writing and article 🙂

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