Heart of a Leader

Leadership Matters

One person’s weed is another’s flower

Yesterday, I was sitting in our back yard having a conversation with a client. Our home sits along a vibrant, spring-fed creek. The beauty and tranquility of this spot, along with its rushing waters, creates a sense of peacefulness and wonder.

I was gazing across the stream looking at a “weed” that had sprung up over the past few weeks. I was told by a friend that it’s called jewel weed. It is beautiful, that’s for sure. It slender stalks are capped by beautiful orange flowers. The flowers are a favorite for the local hummingbirds.

Then I discovered some more about these “weeds”. The juice in their stems is a very effective antidote for poison oak. I have been an adult sufferer of poison oak. In fact, it was so systemic at one time that I was convinced the only way to curb its effects was intense treatments with steroids, which had all sorts of complications. If only I’d know about these “weeds” then.

As I was marveling at the wonders of this “weed”, I began to consider how we treat what we consider “weeds” in our lives. I first consulted Webster’s to find its preferred definition of the word. Here’s what I found: “a weed is a valueless plant growing wild, especially one that grows on cultivated ground to the exclusion or injury of the desired crop.”

I could feel the power of the word valueless, and the notion, “injury of the desired crop”. I’ve been taught that weeds are to be killed or rooted out with vigor.

How often do I look at my surroundings thinking that which I don’t understand is a weed? This could be an annoying acquaintance , a motorist who cuts me off in traffic, a relative whom I find annoying or an ethnic group that I don’t understand. The range is great in my personal world of weeds.

What’s happening is that my reality doesn’t fit with what I’m seeing. This reality is cultivated over a lifetime of experiences that shape how I view the world. It is my personal realm of truth. So when I see something that doesn’t fit, or disturbs my orderly world, I classify it as a “weed”. Now, I don’t use that word, but I do feel it’s valueless and it grows wild on my cultivated ground of reality.

I thought about this over the past day and find that my world is filled with weeds. When I encounter something that I don’t understand or doesn’t fit, I immediately want to classify it as something that is not useful and discard it. Wow, how much of the world am I missing?

LIke the jewel weed along the creek that could soothe my poison oak, the world is filled with experiences that at first don’t seem to fit my orderly thinking. If I can transcend this limitation, and not push away what doesn’t fit, I may have a surprise that truly astonishes.

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2 thoughts on “One person’s weed is another’s flower

  1. Once again, great insight, Thomas. In 1973, I spent some time in Findhorn in northern Scotland. In their famous garden, there is row after row of orderly plants (veggies) and one area where they let the “weeds” do their thing……grow wild!It was explained to me that the plant spirits want a place where human ideas and limits don’t apply. I think that is an apt metaphor.

  2. Scenario: What of land developers ripping out the natural elements, and perhaps the natural elements being a cure to save their lives in a health crisis. That would not be earning a living.

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