This week I spoke at Leader’s Edge on Wednesday. On the first Wednesday of each month NewPointe holds a breakfast and a lunch meeting in the community to talk about leadership.
This month the topic was “Charting your Future”. My opening question was this: How many of you have ever had to cram for a test? Maybe you slacked off during class or skipped class and then had to stay up most of the night to cram for the test.
Can you imagine trying to cram on a farm? You forget to plant in the Spring, and spend the summer fishing, golfing and playing video games. Then in the Fall, you suddenly realize you need to have a harvest for money. You quickly plow up the fields and plant the seeds. You even fertilize the soil. How would that work?
You might laugh at that, but we do the same thing in many areas of our lives. How about your physical health? Can you spend years eating whatever you want and getting little exercise, and then spend a few days working out and then go run a 5k or a half marathon or play full-court basketball? Or how about getting a bad report from your doctor. You are motivated to start eating right and exercising, but you don’t see immediate results. You can’t cram your health.
How about your marriage? You spend 15 years of marriage, doing your own thing, hurting each other, ignoring each other, not communicating or resolving conflict, not speaking each-others love language and then suddenly realize you must work on it or get divorced. You can’t cram your marriage and make it better in a month.
So do you get the idea of cramming?
So here is the next question: How many of you have a garden or have had a garden in the past?
Most of us have experienced gardening to some degree. Mine is not so good. When we bought our house over 10 years ago the previous owners had big garden in the lower field behind our house. I was excited to have a big garden, because growing up my mom had a great garden. I tilled up the entire area and planted a bunch of seeds.
I soon realized that the garden was out of sight from the house, so I often forgot it was there. I also did not like lugging water down there when it was dry. So needless to say I neglected the garden. By late summer the weeds were higher than the plants and the harvest was not good.
The second year I downsized and put half in grass. I got the same result.
The third year I planted all grass. Now we have a very small garden up near the house, so that we can take care of it and keep is watered and weeded. My wife now makes most of the decisions for the garden and I am the support person (till the soil, pull some weeds and eat the veggies).
So here is the point to this story:
Our lives are like a garden. To have a successful garden you need to do these four things well:
Plant, Cultivate, Water and Weed.
- Plant – You need to know what you are going to plant in your garden. In your life, you need to know what the most important things are. What is your vision and purpose for your life? The help think about that ask yourself these questions. What would you want the people closest to you to say at your funeral? What would you focus on this week if you had only 6 months to live? Write out your purpose statement and decide what are the most important areas of your life. My purpose statement is this “Growing in Faith, Character and Leadership.” I have a half page written that describes the person I want to be as well.
- Cultivate – Once you have decided what the most important seeds are for you, you need to prepare the soil for planting. In your life garden, that means setting some goals for each of those important seeds. We are good at setting goals at work, but not so good at setting goals in other areas of our lives like our marriages, finances, friendships, faith, physical and emotional health. To cultivate, you need to sit down and think about each of those areas and then set some goals for each of those areas.
- Water – Nothing grows without water. If you want you goals to grow and happen, you need to water them. This takes some action. You need to find a system that helps you take action on your goals. It may be a weekend getaway with you spouse to plan out the coming year. Where you talk about how you want to improve your relationship and then schedule time together, schedule vacations, decide what book to read together or what seminar to go to. You need to plan out your weeks and months in advance with your your goals in front of you. If your health is important then you need to schedule workout times. If your faith is important you need to schedule spiritual growth times.
- Weed – Weeding is necessary to have healthy plants. We all need to be constantly weeding all areas of our lives. What do you need to decide not to do? I have been working on a “to don’t” list for 2009. What do you need to stop doing or say no to? It might be some good, fun things, but they might be taking away from the important things. We also sometime like to keep special weeds in our garden. Things we like, but we know are not good for us. We try to keep them in the corner of the garden. The problem with that, is they creep into the rest of the garden, and all of a sudden we are drowning in weeds. What weeds do you need to pull and through out of the garden completely?
So start thinking about 2009 and start planting, cultivating, watering and weeding. Don’t cram the important areas of your life.