I’m one of those funny people who actually enjoy mowing the lawn. I get immediate gratification of seeing what I’ve accomplished, I’m out in the fresh air, and, since I’m moving .88 acres with a 21” push mower, it serves double-duty as my workout.
As I was mowing today I was reflecting on the leadership lessons in lawn-mowing. Here are a few of them:
- Start early; refresh often. It’s 100° here and the lawn is in full sun most of the day. An early start and liberal water breaks are key to getting the job done.
The same is true when it comes to honing your natural leadership abilities. The sooner you identify and magnify your unique gifts, the more successful you will be. AND, the secret to continued success is refreshing your body, mind, heart and soul regularly.
- Balance the long view with the close-in perspective. The light from the Arizona sun is so bright that it can be difficult to see where you are mowing. The only way to mow cleanly without missing spots is to aim for the distant “mow line” while also paying attention to the area immediately in front of you. (And, trust me, when I forget that I have to re-mow sections.)
Building a life inside your government career is the same way. Working inside a large bureaucratic organization, it can be very easy to develop tunnel vision focusing only on your short-term objectives like the project due next week or getting your next promotion. And, yes, you should focus on those things or you may need to “re-mow” that section. But don’t lose sight of your longer vision.
This is your LIFE.
What do you want it to look like? Feel like? If it doesn’t feel that way now, adjust! Don’t wait until you get to the other end of the yard and realize, “damn, this isn’t where I wanted to be.”
- Any great flood will float up your “thatch.” We have flood irrigation here. Twice a month I open valves at the back of the yard and water pours in for several hours. By the time the irrigation is finished the entire yard is under about 6 inches of water. You can almost hear the fruit trees slurping it up. But there is an ugly side. All the thatch, those dead bits of grass left over from previous mowings, gets lifted from the dirt and floats across the lawn to settle in random places choking the grass that gets stuck beneath it unless I rake it up and get rid of it. Once removed the lawn flourishes.
This is the dirty little secret about success. Receiving that flood of abundance that you’ve been craving (more time, more money, more authority, more responsibility, more freedom, more recognition, more respect, whatever) will float up all your “thatch.” All the old fears, limiting beliefs, unconscious programming, and habits that no longer serve you will rise to the surface.
Unless you grow, heal, and shed that old thatch, you will choke out the abundance you’ve just received and find yourself right back where you started from or worse. (This is the same phenomenon that causes most lottery winners to lose their winnings in short order.)
Take a look. What thatch do you need to shed so that you can flourish?