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Every fall I spend 10 days hiking in the mountains of Montana, hunting Elk and reconnecting with a place I truly love. Somehow, I frequently end up sitting in the snow and leaning against an Aspen tree scanning the hills through binoculars and thinking about things I never have time to think about.
The Aspen grove is a therapeutic and humbling place to sit. It is beautiful with thousands of leaves shimmering quietly in the slightest of breezes. Incredibly, the Aspen tree starts from a single seed and then grows another tree through an underground root system that can be up to a hundred feet away. The grove of hundreds of Aspen trees can live 40-150 years above the ground; however the root system can live for thousands of years. In fact, there is an Aspen grove in Utah that is believed to be 80,000 years old and covers over a hundred acres.
You are probably thinking . . . . so what? Here are a few ideas to think about:
Have you, as the leader, planted the single seed idea, point of culture, process, etc. that will take root in your organization?
Have you nurtured and nourished the informal root system in your company?
Are you patient enough to allow the slow development of the roots that will sustain and grow your firm for years?
There are lots of interesting comparisons if you take the time to allow the imagery to work.
For me, the lesson is about courage, patience, vision, empathy, and involvement.
I suggest that you lean up against an Aspen soon and give yourself time to think and decide what legacy you will leave.