January 26, 2016

Weed, Flower, Tree…What Kind of Business Do You Want to Be?


It may come as no surprise to you that, being the daughter of a logger, it turns out I know a lot about trees. Way more than the average person really should actually (don’t even get me started on the benefits of poplar v. pine.)  It may also (hopefully) come as no surprise to you, given how much we blog & speak about this, that raising up businesses and future leaders is something that is very near & dear to our hearts. So when I can find a way of making the two worlds collide, you can bet that I’m one very happy girl.

Recently, when we were recording our talk for the Turn It Up Conference (which is going on right now by the way & is totally FREE to watch live…you should go sign up!), we got onto this topic of what kind of business owners & ultimately leaders we want to be in this world. See for the past several months, I’ve been working on this idea that when it comes to creative entrepreneurs, there are basically three general types of business owners & leaders we can choose to be: weeds, flowers, and trees. So what’s the difference between the three?

Weeds. Weeds are very successful at first glance. They seem to pop up out of nowhere overnight & to be growing faster than everyone around them. Their presence spreads like wildfire. Where one day there was nothing, suddenly the next day they are everywhere you turn. And as their reach grows to dizzying heights almost instantly, it is very tempting to say that you want to grow just like a weed. That is until you realize, that in the weed’s insatiable desire to grow upwards higher & higher, heads above the rest….they have forgotten to grow deep. They have spent all of their energy on how big & impressive they are on the surface, that they never got around to making sure they also had roots. That they have something of substance & surety they are anchored to. And what that means, is that when the slightest push comes…they fall right over. I mean, who among us has not pulled a five foot weed out with the slightest pull only to discover only a couple of inches of roots? They stood for nothing. They took instead of giving. They grew only for themselves. And that, it turns out, will always be their undoing.

Flowers. Flowers provide a very important service in the world, to be sure. They are the purveyors of beauty. And goodness knows the world certainly needs more beauty. In business terms, there are flowers who are annual. These are the kinds of businesses who create something really pretty, beautiful even, and it flourishes for a season and then it’s gone. Then there are the businesses who are perennials. They know the kind of beauty that they were born to create, they own it, and they are able to deliver on that year after year. There is nothing on its face wrong with being merely a flower in business. Beauty is in and of itself, a gift to the world. But for all of us, I want something more.

Trees. And then you have those businesses that go beyond just growing for themselves, that go beyond just making something pretty. Those businesses are what we call trees. See a tree can grow up and up, as high as you can imagine with its arms stretched out wide. But here’s the interesting thing about a tree that you might not know: for however high & wide a tree stretches its reach with its branches…its roots always stretch wider. It digs in before it ever tries to grow up. And as a result, it is not tossed by every storm that comes. It knows what it stands for, it holds fast to what it’s anchored to. And in the same way, while a tree may indeed be a thing of incredible beauty in and of itself, it is never satisfied with merely that. Instead, it chooses to also bear fruit. To create something to be shared and given away. So that others might be fed by what it has created.

In all of our businesses, my hope is that we will always strive to be trees. To grow and stretch our fingers toward the sky, but never out of reach of our roots and where we came from. To provide shade & shelter to others. To be a thing not just of beauty which fades, but something that leaves others better for having found us. And to choose to grow slow & steady over the long haul because that’s how you get to walk among the giants. And for anytime that growing gets just a little too slow, I hope we will remind ourselves of what Justin is always telling me….

Slow growth equals strong roots.

Here’s to the trees of the world. May you always stand strong.

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  1. Jen Bacchiocchi

    I love this! (I choose an acorn for our logo because I love the phrase “from a tiny acorn, a mighty oak grows.”)

  2. Somer

    What a beautiful and profound post. We are but only a sapling, but we long for the day that we become a giant sequoia growing only to “To create something to be shared and given away. So that others might be fed by what it has created.”. <3

  3. Leandra

    What a beautiful post! I loved how that came together. Thank you for sharing and inspiring!

  4. Amber

    This is beautiful! There is so much truth here. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and thank you for being trees! :)

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