|Young peach tree with fruit. Something I won't see on mine this year.|
Only difference, is this year, for the first time in three years, we will have not fruit. There are no baby green peach buds on our tree now or will there be.
As a family we'd been watching for them but they have not arrived. There are so many reasons for that and trust me, as I've mentioned it to folks for the last few weeks while I digested the news, we've gotten lots of input as to what "wrong."
"This past winter was brutal."
"There are drought like conditions in Chicago this year."
"Many crops failed this year with the short spring."
And one very wise woman at a farewell party this past weekend asked a question, she inquired, "Did you guys prune that tree well last year?"
Being that I only deal with the indoors in our household, I don't even remember what I responded but I have been thinking about her question and all the related terms ever since.
As a leader, those are three very important concepts to tune into, often. To be effective as leaders, we have to think about fruit, seasons and pruning.
Fruit is the product of our work. Leaders have to challenge themselves often to assess the fruit in their lives, the fruit in their work, the fruit in the relationships they cultivate. Fruit is one way of "taking stock" along our journey. Fruit can be a measurement of our efforts. When we have lots of luscious healthy fruit, it can be correlated to direct intentional actions. And while fruit is not the only thing that matters, it is a significant indicator on the work we leaders do day-in and day-out.
Seasons are also indicator in our lives. We have seasons of growth and change. Depending on the leader, those can be fun and invigorating times or tough, uncomfortable periods. Seasons also remind us that everything is cyclical. No season lasts too long or too short. Seasons come and go just as they need to for reasons we never truly understand. Our understanding lies in grasping that a season is a short and finite opportunity to impact something or someone.
Pruning is a process of cutting back to have more. And while plants generally let us know of their overgrowth and it's very tough to ignore, in a leaders's life pruning is a bit more subtle but just as important. In life it is not always easy to "see" where pruning needs to occur. But if we look closely, it is actually easier than you think. We must prune away people, things and processes that hinder our growth as leaders. When we look to grow and move forward, we must always look at our current situation to know what we need to leave behind to foster that growth.
It's amazing all the lessons my young peach tree taught me when I stopped to listen. In a way, I got fruit from it this year, after all. Now, I hope we don't have to wait too long to see actual fruit again.