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Don’t Plant the Tree You See

Picture of Karl Palachuk

Karl W. Palachuk
January 8, 2012

Awhile back I wandered into a restaurant that was refurbishing their side patio dining area. They were planting a number of palm trees. They had obviously put a lot of money into this project, including the purchase of a dozen good-size palm trees.

Don't Plant The Tree You See
Don't Plant The Tree You See

It really struck me as odd, however, that they planted the trees right up against the walls of the patio area. I mean right up against the wall. It was almost as if the landscaper didn’t know the trees would grow.

I’m sure you’ve seen this too. One time I bought a house and there was a tree planted against the back wall. I knew I had to dig it up before it got large or I’d have it busting through the wall and pushing up against my foundation. On a similar vein, I frequently see trees planted so close together that both of them have stunted growth. They have to share root space and a limited supply of nutrients and water.

To be honest, this article is not about landscaping: It’s about life.

When you look at an idea or an opportunity, do you see the idea or opportunity as it appears in front of you, or as it will be in the years to come? Do you see the new employee as the person in front of you or the person she can become? Do you see your child as the kid in front of you or the man he will become?

I think one of the most powerful forces in the world is a positive mental attitude. And that’s not something that just happens. You have to exercise your PMA just as with any other muscle of success. You have to practice seeing a better future. Practice visualizing what can be.

Trees aren’t the only thing that will change and grow. Everything will change! Your house, your car, your job. Your taste in food, your favorite coffee cup, and the hobbies you take on. Everything changes.

We are comfortable “in the now” because we know what it looks like. When we act on our world, we have a sense of how it will react back to us.

But we need to also look ahead, and look beyond the obvious. Don’t plant the tree you see: Plant the tree it will become. In other words, don’t just look at the world as it is today, but look at what it can – and will – become.

One of the important lessons I learned in creating and growing businesses is that I need to run the business the way I want it to be, not just the way it is. For example, I put in processes and procedures as soon as I can. So even if I only have one employee, I operate with rules and guidelines as if I had five or ten employees. This philosophy can be summarized as “Be the company you want to become.”

If you’ve ever refinished furniture or refurbished anything (toys, houses, collectible signs, etc.), then you know that there’s a skill in seeing what something can become, despite what you see in front of you. Interior designers can see the potential in the room while the rest of us just see the room as it is.

When you get in the habit of seeing potential in all situations and all people, it gives you a certain mental push. For me, it brings a positive spin to things.

What can this opportunity become? What can this relationship become? What can this writing become.

Give it a try!

Plant some trees. But don’t just plant the tree you see.


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