Thursday, February 28, 2013

Redwood Trees Illustrate How Teams Can Reach Great Heights

If you want to go fast, go alone
If you want to go far, go together.
– African proverb –

At work I manage a team responsible for global alliances and partners for our business unit. A while ago we had a discussion centered on the following.

RedwoodsRedwood trees can grow over 350 ft. tall, have a diameter of 20 plus ft., have a life span in excess of 2,000 years; yet they have no taproot, their average root diameter is about an inch, and their root system spreads out about 50 to 80 feet at a maximum depth of 6 to 12 feet. How is it possible that they grow so high and live so long? Are there any correlations to work and life?

Here are some of the comments made by members of the group:

  1. These trees live so long and grow so tall because because their root system is intermingled and they collectively share energy. They are a great example of collaboration and collective strength, which is also very true in our lives. But many of us won't realize this simple fact and try to maximize their growth individually without regards to other. In a company which relies on collective out this is not really possible.
  2. The redwood tree never gives up! A career is a journey. When we reach the penultimate step of life, and look back, we do not remember our daily tasks or disappointments but we will remember our pursued goals and our success or failure in achieving them.
  3. Hardships brings strength increasing the odds of success. If success came easily, we would quickly give up on goals when problems arise. Overcoming problems is a mindset that will shrivel to nothing if not exercised.  The redwoods that thrive are ones that overcome natural calamities, insects, infestation and competition from other plants for water and nutrients.
  4. A redwood starts small, but grows and grows from experience. Almost all of us start from a point of having little experience, resources and confidence. But, day after day, year after year, pursuing our career in a methodical and strategic way, taking actions, we grow. Before we know it, we will tower over a majority of people who think things have come to you naturally.
  5. The redwood tree doesn’t whine about problems. Trees don’t talk or express themselves. But if redwood trees didn’t pursue growth overcoming all the natural obstacles, they would all die. When we face obstacles and challenges, don’t complain, don’t whine! Figure out the next step. Recoup, regroup and recalibrate the strategies. WE WILL SUCCEED. “Fall seven times, stand up eight”—A Japanese proverb.
  6. The root system of these trees are complex and their longevity is a by-product of their interconnected root systems. It is this symbiotic approach towards growth ensures their long span of life cumulatively. They believe in growing together rather than individually. Therefore they live long and remain standing almost regardless of circumstances..

Can you think of any other correlations?

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