“The nature of things is in the habit of concealing itself” – Heraclitus of Ephesus
This morning we had our first frost. It was a sure sign that winter is just around the corner and that the cycle of life is unstoppable (no matter what I want, like or whatever). This time of the year I am reminded about the value of harvest and the time to lie fallow after the crops are finished.
This cycle of life was also even more intimately presented to me in my office. I have a wonderful jasmine tree. It was a gift and I have enjoyed its fragrant blossoms throughout the year. About two months ago I moved my office. After I settled into the new space, I noticed that the jasmine was loosing its leaves at a fast clip. I was concerned because it had thrived in the old office so well. I concocted a story that the change in the plant was due to something that was harmful to the jasmine in its new environment.
Over four or five weeks, all the leaves fell off the tree. I was certain that the end was near. I was talking with my wife about the tree and that I was about to move this leaf bare plant to our compost pile when she said, “I wonder if it will revive”. In fact, she pointed out one new leaf that was forming at the base of the tree. In my haste to judgment I missed this. I decided to wait and see what happened. I watered the plant as before and to my amazement, the plant has completely rejuvenated and is now full of beautiful, very green leaves.
How often do I forget about the cycle of life. There is a time like the spring for nurturing new ideas. Seeing what will grow and giving it the gentle and sure care that is needed to survive its first time in the world. In business this is the time of the new product development cycle. During this time, we are trying new things and seeing what has the best chance to meet our needs for a future harvest.
Once we have chosen what we will cultivate, we then give our attention to the growth cycle. We give the crops water and nutrition and sunlight. With the proper amount of these vital ingredients for life amazing things happen. From a seed, an ear of corn or stalk of wheat grow. The same is true in business. We give our newly chosen crop of products the right resources to assure their growth and potential for future harvest. We prune the weeds so that the growth will not be strangled. We cut back excessive plantings if overcrowding ensues.
Now the fun, we get to harvest. The fruits of our labor are in our hands. We can smell them, touch them, taste them. We know that what has transpired is good. The same in our business life. Our customers find what we are offering of value. We store the excess harvest to be used until the next fall. As in business we continue to sell these products and services to our customers.
Then there is winter. In winter, the ground is in repose. It is resting and awaiting a new spring. The farmer is planning their spring activities and making sure they are ready for the next cycle. They also rest. They appreciate their efforts and enjoy the time of winter to make sure they have the stamina that coming seasons demand. In business, we often miss this part of the cycle. We keep our products around long after they are of vitality to our customers. We don’t take time to appreciate the harvest and prepare ourselves physically, emotionally, mental and spiritually for the time ahead.
The cycles are going on all the time in our business world. One product will be in spring, while another in winter. By remembering that this cycle is the nature of things we can keep our eye on what is the best use of our time, talent and resources.
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