How Building Business Relationships Is Like Gardening

Dollarphotoclub_92464199-1024x683Building business relationships is similar to gardening in a lot of ways. It takes time and dedication.

The actions required for the payoff rarely result in an immediate or obvious change — they need to build up over time. A relationship which is started, but not maintained will wither and die — it is the natural order of things.

People often confuse planting with gardening. Gardening is a process, but planting is a task. Anyone can become a gardener by simply following a gardening process: clear the land, plant the seeds, water, weed and harvest. Gardening at an average level is simple. It takes time, but it’s not complicated. A garden which is planted, but not tended, will grow weeds, and it will wither and die from periodic droughts. The actions required for good results don’t immediately cause good results, they add up over time. An average gardener will skip a day of weeding or watering and the next day the garden doesn’t look much different, but over time the results reflect the effort.

An expert gardener knows things and does things that an average gardener doesn’t. An expert gardener knows about soil, light, climate, and complementary plants. There has never been an expert gardener who wasn’t an average gardener first, however. The expert started as average, followed the process, made mistakes and pushed through to become an expert. An expert gardener does the things that are required even though the results aren’t immediately obvious.

The expert will never skip a day of weeding or watering, even though the next day the garden doesn’t look much different, because they know that over time the results reflect the effort.

Expert gardeners do all of the things that average gardeners do, but they do them better and they do more. Expert gardeners react to the chaos of nature, not by denying it, but by accepting it and working within and around it. Average gardeners blame nature for burning their plants, not raining enough, bugs, weeds, poor soil and poor results. Expert gardeners shield their plants from getting burned, provide water during droughts, protect against bugs, pull weeds, enrich the soil and enjoy spectacular results.

Understanding the environment is critical to success for both gardeners and businesspeople alike. It is possible to change the environment in small but significant ways. But that should never be confused with being able to control the environment. It is important to recognize and work within the chaos that is naturally present. Fighting it doesn’t help, denying it doesn’t help, and giving into it is accepting defeat. Compensating for it is the only solution.

Some plants will never grow in a given environment, just as ome business relationships will simply never work. It’s important to recognize this and redirect your efforts towards things which will work.

Chaos is natural. When you look at a piece of land, rarely do you see a garden. Turning a piece of land into a garden is a process, not a weekend project. If it’s viewed as a project, then perhaps the land gets cleared and maybe something even gets planted — but that doesn’t make for a successful garden.

My wife is a terrible gardener, but she is excellent at gardening. She knows about soil, plants and weeding. She creates rich compost with eggshells, which are great for roses. She knows that the pH of the soil is what determines the color of the hydrangea blooms. She knows all these things, yet she is a terrible gardener because she doesn’t spend her time gardening.

Occasionally she plants things. Occasionally she mixes compost with the soil. Occasionally she even pulls weeds. Because these actions are occasional, and not part of a consistent process, most of the things she plants die and the others grow weakly. My wife has a great career, strong marriage and wonderful kids — those are the things she spends her time on instead of gardening. And an outside observer can tell simply from the results where her efforts are (or are not) directed.

To become an expert, you must first be average, and then you must learn from other experts to become above average. With prolonged focus and consistent effort, anyone can become an expert.

Provide what is missing, protect against the greatest threats, and constantly make things a little better in order to achieve spectacular results. Everyone starts out being unskilled. Being average is a prerequisite to being good. But becoming an expert requires both training and consistent effort.


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