If you walk or drive around the countryside, you can observe that the vineyards are all bare naked. It is the result of a typical winter activity called pruning. Pruning is a practice that consists of the selective removal of certain parts of a plant. Typically, diseased, damaged, dead or non-productive parts. I’m not an expert, so I have no ideas of the guidelines that farmers follow in this practice. But I’ve always found the whole process fascinating. Once a year, to ensure that the plant can thrive and be fruitful, it must be stripped down of all the old and exhausted branches. As counterintuitive as it may sound to me, it works. By removing the old, the farmers make space for the new. Those vineyards that look sad and naked now will be flourishing and prosperous in a few months. Isn’t it the same for us? Looking back at my life, I can see how many times I couldn’t move forward until I did some personal pruning, removing old branches there were not serving me anymore. It may seem like a paradox, but sometimes in order to grow, we have to remove first.
Learning is a future-oriented strength. It is something you do today but will create results tomorrow. It is also a never-ending process. And it’s an amazing one. It’s a journey with no end and when every step is new. You may get tired, but you surely never get bored. However, because learning results are always postponed in time, it may be hard to recognize its value. Do you have any metrics, in your personal or professional life, focused on learning? How much space does learning have in your life, or in your organization? Too often, we focus on performance, which is about creating results today, and we overlook learning that is about our ability to create value in the future. It’s understandable, immediate rewards are a lot sexier than delayed gratification. That’s why it’s essential to have a learning habit in your life. And learning doesn’t have to be boring. You can spend fifteen minutes a day learning a new language using a playful app. Do you have a learning habit in your daily routine?
I wasn’t expecting to see “improvement” among the strengths that a person can have. In the cards I’m using, a person with such strength is described as someone who expects everything to meet high standards. Someone who does not tend to accept the way things are usually done, but instead get thrilled from seeing how you can make things better or more effective. To me, it looks more like a curse than a gift. I guess that means this strength is not in my toolbox. However, I can see how this can be an invaluable attitude to have. I know a few people who are continually seeking ways to improve things, and they are precious because they keep moving the needle forward. It’s thanks to people who are not content with the status quo that we make progress at all levels, from our organizations to humanity as a whole. Yet, I feel that this strength, if left unchecked, can lead to a lot of stress and burn someone down. That’s why I think that improvement can unleash all its potential when combined with gratitude.
I noticed an increasing tendency to hold others to standards that we can’t live up to. Or maybe it’s just me doing that. I realise that sometimes I expect others to have a coherence that I don’t have. To expect them to always walk their talk and judge them when they don’t. All of this while I’m the first to fail. It is so much easier to judge others. As if in spotting their shortcoming and failures, it means I’m better than them. But am I? Or am I just escaping my own responsibilities towards myself first, and the others too? We all are on this same bumpy ride called life. We slip, we fall, we bleed, sometimes we get lost. We are human, a never-finished always in-progress work of art. Compassion is about seeing perfection in this imperfection that we all are.