Last week I had the privilege of hiking in the Redwood National Forest on my road trip with my daughter who is teaching Special Ed in Oakland through Teach for America. I was moved to tears and speechlessness by the awesome glory in those groves!
Metaphors from nature consistently work for me. This one is even better than I could have expected because of what makes Sequoia sempervirens unique. They are both the tallest living tree on our planet and one of the oldest growing organisms on Earth. There are THREE aspects that create a wonderful career (and life) management metaphor--roots, trunks and branches.
Redwoods are unique in having very shallow root systems--especially in relationship to their massive height--their roots typically only go down 6-10 feet compared to heights up to 379 feet. What enables them to withstand the forces of nature is that their root systems are intertwined with one another and they flourish in groves. More trees can grow taller and live longer when they are growing in a grove.
As humans and professionals we are also made to flourish in groves--communities, teams, families--science and history have proven that 2 + 2 = 5+ if we work together well.
Who is part of your "grove" and what are you doing to support them?
Giant Sequoias have a specialized systems that enable unique water transportation, hardy resistance to fire and other damage in their bark, and unusual reproductive capacities. Scientists marvel at the Redwood's adaptations to their environment. They move water up against gravity and absorb water from the coastal fog. The bark is thick and tannic which makes it fire and insect resistant and their burls are an added reproductive mechanism. Redwoods have evolved structures and systems that support their survival, growth and longevity.
Successful careers are built on self-awareness about the structures and systems that enable us to grow and thrive in our work environment. Understanding of your of strengths, styles, skills and the types of working environments, industries, and companies you prefer gives you the strong "trunk" you need to stay aligned in work where you will succeed.
In your professional circumstance, what are the systems and structures that enable you to grow and flourish?
All plants reach toward the light. Redwoods are no different. Sometimes to reach sunshine they need to contort themselves in ways that may appear imperfect.
It is in reaching and stretching that we get ourselves and our careers to the “light” that will nourish it and make our work life-giving. Sometimes the way to get there may seem imperfect.
Where is your light? And/or, where does your light shine most brightly when you are doing your work?