“When we don’t prune in the garden, Nature does it for us through wind, ice, hail, fire, and flood. One way or another, the boughs will be shaped or strengthened. If we don’t prune away the stress and plow under the useless in our lives, pain will do it for us. Make no mistake; I think pain is a wretched gardener. Her cuts stun and sting. But after pruning, and preferably voluntary, we’re able to discern what’s real, what’s important, and what’s essential for our happiness.”
– Sarah Ban Breathnach

We’ve established that Martha Stewart I’m not, but I do admit I love wild, beautiful flowers and would love a bunch of wild things all over the back yard. I had gone out once to find these horrible, prickly weeds had grown up and taken over the garden. While I hadn’t spent any time there weeding, or taking care of it, I was “dismayed” that I didn’t have a prize-winning garden with wonderful flowers and no weeds.

While weeding this mess, few things about this struck me.

  1. It’s amazing how fast things can get out of control and nasty when you don’t pay attention to them.
  2. Funny how I really value and enjoy something, but haven’t spent any time on it, and am upset (almost surprised) when it doesn’t flourish.
  3. Once out there and weeding, I enjoyed it thoroughly, it didn’t take much time at all and it was well worth the effort, it was less effort than looking at the weeds every day.
  4. My actions would say I seem to want to plant a few seeds and have this big, wild, weed-less beauty of a garden pop up on its own.

So what’s going on? (Yes, I actually can take a day in the garden and turn it into an article)

“Who you are speaks so loudly,
that I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
– Unknown

I’m not necessarily saying we’re liars, but I do want to say we’re full of bull a lot of the time. Maliciously? Intentionally? Not necessarily, (in some cases yes) but it’s there. Sound a bit strong? Let’s tawlk, because this phenomenon isn’t contained to our gardens, it’s also prevalent in our lives and businesses, and has a big effect on the success of both. We talk a lot about what our priorities are, what we’re about (our gardens). We even sometimes make plaques proclaiming our priorities, put them into writing or even take vows or make declarations. Then our actions don’t support these declarations, in fact the only evidence that these things are priorities are in these plaques or declarations.

“True religion is the life we lead,
not the creed we profess.”

– Louis Nizer

Although we logically know it’s not true, our actions say we believe things will take care of themselves and flourish with no attention or work from us. This is where the disparity comes in. That’s where the trouble starts. That’s when we’re dismayed to see weeds, clutter and ugliness where our “priorities” are supposed to be. We declare what’s most important but do not spend the time, effort and energy on those things. When this gap exists continuously, our declarations eventually become untrue to our actions. They’re each telling different stories.

“When someone shows you who they are,
believe them.”

– Maya Angelou

Examples of and reasons for the gap:
We don’t have time for our gardens. If you needed to have life saving surgery tomorrow, I’d bet a lot of money you’d find time to have it OR If someone offered you $10,000 to complete a task that had been on your to do list for months, I bet you could have it done very quickly. “We all find the time to do what we really want to do.” My point? We make time for things that are a priority. More time would not solve our lack of attention to our gardens; we would then fill that time up as well.

Our customers or employees are number one to our business if our actions reflect just the opposite and neither could tell you they were your priorities.

Our families/marriages/children are the most important things in our lives if they get the least time, worst of our attitudes, and less respect than we give a barely respected coworker.

Our health, weight and feeling good is very important if we won’t get off the couch, stop eating bad food and take action to feel better.

We want a big beautiful garden if we’ve spent no time effort or energy on making that happen.

“Knowing and not doing are equal to not knowing at all.”
– Unknown

We’re programmed to say these (and others) are our priorities in our businesses/lives. We’re also programmed to busy ourselves and make decisions on the fly, reacting and making short-term decisions that we fill our time with activities that are contrary to supporting these things. As I said we don’t do these things on purpose (most of the time), we don’t do it because we particularly like the results. We’re not happy with the results and can’t possibly be at our true potential when operating like this.

There are many reasons this happens:

  • It’s a difficult process, almost impossible for many people and businesses, to get crystal clear on where you want to go and why.
  • Utilizing exactly what (actions, processes, resources) will get you there is another difficult step in the process. You have to know what will get you there then implement.
  • We often do what has been done in the past, what we’ve always done, what others are doing or what we’re told to do without really knowing or checking if that is, in fact, that best way to support our objectives. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” – Ancient Chinese Proverb
  • Once we do know the direction, tools, resources, systems that will truly serve our vision; keeping that clear and in the forefront for all involved is yet another big challenge.
  • Our priorities often come from other places then us. “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone.” – Bill Cosby
  • If a goal is not something we truly have ownership for or oomph for, it will be hard to keep up activities on a regular basis that support it.
  • We sometimes have our priorities and actions very clear and straight, but others have their own that supersede ours. We have bosses to answer to, mortgages to pay, projects to complete, competitors to outperform, kids to take care of. It’s so easy to get sidetracked or to even know what will get us there.

So what do we do? “Learn to say ‘No.’. It will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

  1. Reevaluate your priorities (with the help of a great coach).
  2. Notice where you’re spending your time and why.
  3. Confirm what your true priorities are and compare to where your time is actually spent (tips for how in the e-course).
  4. Weed your garden. Pick top priorities and weed out others. I was afraid to cut back the flowers thinking nothing would grow in its place. We do that with our time as well. What I found was weeding and cutting back was the way to truly get the best and most beautiful growth possible. I couldn’t have made a better metaphor if I tried.
  5. Make sure you have the right habits, processes and tools in place.
  6. Take Mr. Cosby’s and Mr. Purgeon’s advice. It’s valuable to learn that time is precious, and we are accountable and responsible for our time only and we’d better be pleased with the results. No one else can change it for us and no one else knows what’s right for you.

We’re human. These things don’t come automatically or easy. But most of the time the steps above are much easier than letting our priorities to go the weeds. Get support to go through this process. I’m biased, yes, but a coach as a resource is an invaluable tool in growing your garden, or find whatever works for you but do something.  Close the gap between what your garden is and the reality of its condition. But start now even in little ways. 

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
– George Eliot, 1819-1880
(pseudonym of Marian Evans Cross)