At this time of year, we are departing from dirty snow into brown grass turning to a beautiful jade green and barren trees being covered with green foliage of leaves and even some blossoms. The grass needs mowed twice per week if it rains often, and the flowers are blooming with shots of colors. It’s a “new start” of a warmer season and fun time to watch the change in colors.
Maintaining a beautiful lawn and yard brings satisfaction. It also brings work. Let’s take the time to compare five main steps of creating and maintaining a yard into managing a great work-life analogy. “A Place Where the Grass is Always Green” provides strategies and tips on how to develop “your place” where the grass is always greener.
Step 1. Determine the seed you need in your yard to make your grass thick and green throughout. There are so many things to consider. Is it sunny, shady, does it get flooded with water, or doesn’t seem to get enough water? What kind of soil do you have?
What kind of seed do you need to plant in your life? Are you building value in the job you perform to get to the job you want? Are you investing in your life with formal, informal, and continuous learning? Do you strangle people around you with negativity and withholding information, or are you there to offer assistance as much as possible? What would your coworkers, your boss, and even your clients/customers say about you and your service level? What kind of “seed” do they say you are made of? Yes, there are variables in life and sometimes the seed we plant doesn’t grow but dies and we must reseed again.
Step 2. Aerate the lawn to assure the roots can reach deep and secure into the soil. In life I think we all forget to aerate our basic skills and behaviors. Sometimes we think, I’ve worked here long enough that I paid my dues. We don’t have to work hard any more or make changes in how we get our work done because it is “good enough.” Let me give you just one example of “good enough.” How would you feel if you were flying into Chicago O’Hare and the air controller doesn’t give directions to the pilot? Maybe the air controller thinks, so what if we have one crash per month – we’re still “good enough.” Which plane do you want to be on – the one that he/she is giving directions or the one that thinks “oh well, let’s see what happens. I can’t be everywhere at once and be expected to give 100 percent all of the time.” In other words, good enough is not good enough.
Do your best always. Dewitt Jones, Photographic Journalist for National Geographic, says when he was hired on at National Geographic, his boss told him the following. “You don’t have to prove yourself any more. You’ve done that already and that is why we hired you. However, you do have to improve every day and share what you learn with others so we can learn from each other. If you don’t do that, you’re fired.” Are you aerating your life to assure best practices, managing changes in your life with success for yourself and your organization?
Step 3. Fertilize the lawn. The soil can only produce so much good until it needs additional assistance. It needs replenishing chemicals, sometimes needs “rest” and usually a combination of things to become propagative once more. There are so many types of fertilizers out there. Some can burn up your lawn if you use too much. Some don’t do anything except cost a high amount of money and time.
What are you doing in your life to keep yourself germinating ideas, creativity, and innovation? Are you using your age as an excuse that you can’t learn any more. You can’t get around as quickly…all of these and much more can be true. However, the real question is, what are you doing to keep your mind, body, and soul “fertilized” with “life?” Everyone fertilizes their life; it’s just which fertilizer is it. Is it the fertilizer that declares the world is a bad place and we should be afraid and insecure? Is it the fertilizer that declares there is nothing you can do; so we just have to endure what happens around us (denial)? Or is the fertilizer that helps you become and maintain personal accountability to ask yourself, “What can I do right now to make this situation better?”
Are you burning yourself out with too much of one thing or too much of many things? Are you mediocre in your performance? Do you feel underpaid? Are you using that to lose your dedication and focus in your responsibilities? Are you constantly working toward balance and blending of all parts of your life together for effectiveness? These are just a beginning of the questions to ask yourself. If not mentioned here, what are the questions you need to be asking yourself to nourish yourself as a productive and valuable contributor?
Step 4. Identify and rid the weeds that create havoc and ugliness in the yard. With beautiful things growing in a yard also comes dandelions, crab grass, and many other weed forms that devalue the lawn and the appearance. What weeds are growing in your life that you have not been able to strangle out? These are the “triggers” that create anger, disagreement to the point of argumentative behaviors. No matter where you are in life, starting a career, changing careers, starting a business, working for someone else or retiring, there will be expected and unexpected challenges that you will need to identify and rid the negativity, the denial and especially the “it has to be like this” weeds behavior.
What are you doing to identify those weeds? As you read this, I bet you can identify some very quickly. There may be others that you think you have weeded out and then wham, it raises its ugly head as a big, bad weed in your life. You think you conquered and are surprised it has returned. Hopefully less often, less intense, and it takes you less time to recover from the growth of the weed. Sometimes we become our own weed – the negative way we talk to ourselves; the way we talk with others; our tone of voice; our nonverbal behaviors that confuse people of our intentions.
In other words, no matter what happens in your life, be thankful for the lesson. Be thankful in good times. Be thankful in bad times. In everything give thanks. Embrace and do not resist. Face it with strength and as a part of life that is your path. Easy to understand…yes. Easy to do…absolutely not. As a people skills consultant, trainer, coach and facilitator, it can sound like I have all of the answers to any situation. Remember, I may know the steps I need to take just like these five in keeping my lawn luscious and healthy. However, when my weeds have gotten too tall, and I didn’t see until it’s over my head. When a weed has slapped me across the neck; I too, can struggle, resist and even forget that I have chosen good seeds, aerated the soil along with the fertilizer. I expect no weeds to get in so I don’t watch for them, and surprise! There they are wrapping their vines around my ankles to cause me to trip. It happens to all of us. It is how we deal with them that makes the difference.
Step 5. Enjoy all of the steps and repeat. It takes work to have a beautiful lawn. At the beginning of each season it is invigorating and exciting. By August, it’s hot and it’s dry and it’s tiring to habitually tend the lawn. Just as in life, it takes repetitive focus and discipline to maintain the life of “greener grass.” Regardless of how things appear, we need to work and toil, and plan and work some more. The last step of the lawn analogy – enjoy. Enjoy each day as a beautiful spring day where we can start anew. As an aunt said late in her years, “I have one more day to get it right.”
And so it is in our lives, what seeds we plant begin with our thoughts and our actions. Take time to aerate your basic beliefs and values to assure that your core values can be seen and heard. Fertilize the seeds to be propagated into your life choices and experiences. Identify and rid the weeds out of your life for tomorrow’s better results. Repeating these steps in your life doesn’t mean that bad things (weeds) won’t happen. A tornado can come through and rip your lawn apart in seconds. Then, it takes years to build back up. Just like your lawn, moles and grub worms can eat the soil out of support and nutrients. Pay attention to who you are hanging with. Pay attention to your intentions and impact upon others to decide if these are weeds or flowers of friends.
Only you can decide how to enjoy your own grass and stop thinking the grass is greener for someone else. Focus on your own lawn. Focus on your thoughts and your behaviors to make the life you want and need.
Learning Alliances Company is located in central Illinois. For more information on this subject, please contact Learning Alliances Company at 217.935.0209.