Why pulling weeds is a great Leadership Practice

This weekend was devoted to puling the thriving population of Canada thistles in my yard. If you don’t know about this “weed” it grows from an extensive deep root system. One scientist started with one foot of Canada thistle root stock and in two years it had produced over 600 feet of roots. Since these roots are deeper than you can realistically dig and the plant is a perineal, eradication is a long term project and takes patience.

180px-Sand_mandala_tibet_1I had avoided tackling this project because I was in despair. Why even go after these weeds when they certainly be back. As I was contemplating doing something else this weekend, I was remembering the sand mandala of TIbetan monks. Witnessing this art of absolute creation is quite wonderful. The monks put their full attention on creating an intricate and beautiful work of art that has images that have been part of their tradition for centuries. Sometimes weeks of daily attention are involved in the bringing this mandala to life.

After the painstaking work of the monks, when the mandala is finished it is swept into a pile and the sand is thrown into a river. This practice is a reminder for them of the impermanence of every aspect of our lives.

As I remembered the monks practice, I recognized that pulling the thistles was like a mandala for me. While I was not creating a beautiful painting per se with my actions, I was allowing other plants to grow into their full beauty without being chocked out by the thistles. I also realized that this type of service was one that could relax me if I did not hold onto a need for my work to be permanent. So my wife and I went about the process of pulling out the weeds. We knew more thistles would be back and we enjoyed the time together and the practice of bringing new beauty into our home.

imagesI also realized that business leaders also are faced with weeds to pull almost daily. We each have some part of our work that is ongoing and we don’t particularly want to do. It could be taking care of the obstacles we are facing on a project knowing that if I eliminate today’s obstacles more obstacles will be here tomorrow. Or it could be administrative tasks that will surely be back tomorrow.

Each of us has some thistles in our work garden. Probably we are not excited about pulling these weeds so we put it off as I did. What is the outcome of delay. MORE WEEDS. They will go on until something disrupts their unchallenged growth.

What are the thistles in your work life? What can you do today to begin the process of pulling these weeds with the joy of doing it at your best and letting all annoyance be gone?

Until later,


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Author: Thomas White

Over the past thirty-five years, Thomas White has created and led private and public organizations that initiated breakthroughs in areas as diverse as computer software, publishing, printing, market research, leadership development and organizational change. The common ingredients in his success are simple. He looked beyond the limitations that others believed and found real solutions to needs that business leaders have. He attracted the best talent to translate these innovative solutions into practical products and services that were of high value to customers. He created cultures where people love what they do, work at their best and produce extraordinary results. In addition to his role as a business leader, Thomas has been a pioneer and inventor of technologies in the computer-networking field. He is a patent holder for innovations in business process and workflow technology. As part of his passion for educating others about the interface of human and computer systems, he was the co-author of “New Tools for New Times, The Workflow Paradigm”. He has also written articles for numerous publications. In 2001, he turned his attention from leading companies to supporting leadership teams in creating organizations of excellence. After many years of being a part of the machine of change, Thomas recognized that business is the most powerful force in the world. It has a major impact on public policy and governments everywhere. It is a key influence on how we use our resources and sets an example of the values that shape communities from local to global. He formed the consulting firm of Profoundly Simple to be a guide for exemplary leaders - leaders who wisely uses the power they are entrusted with to serve their constituencies first and themselves second; leaders who know that it is good business to treat people with respect, honor the environment and act with impeccable integrity – leaders who inspire greatness in those around them and by doing so create great organizations that are notable examples of success. Feeling the itch to get back into the game again, Thomas joined with two long time friends, to start the C-Suite Network. This network of business leaders offers an online network, events, services, and insights to its 500,000 member community. In addition, the C-Suite Network produces and distributes television and radio content to an audience of over 5M per month

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