The Fruit of Our Labor

June 14, 2016 3:32 pm

This weekend we had a wedding in our backyard. A glorious, magical, one-of-a-kind wedding that can only be thrown for a true friend who is entirely reasonable in her planning.  There were a dozen large projects (new patio, new pergola, new furniture, staining the deck, painting the fence) and a zillion tiny projects (weeding the garden, watering the sod twice daily, tying up bows and stringing lights). There were also a few medium-size projects, like pruning our fruit trees and cutting away the shooters on the crepe myrtles just so they look spiffy for the big day.

While I was mercilessly pruning the peach tree, I was wondering when the tree was going to upgrade those blossoms for fruit. In past years, it’s always been around the 4th of July that the peaches were ripe and ready for picking. It seems as though the tree didn’t get the memo, because the blossoms have only turned to leaves. But I was a woman on a mission, so I just kept on my pragmatic way, taking down large branches in the name of symmetry and beauty.


Then I saw it. The lone peach. The chosen fruit. The Harry Potter among all the muggles, hanging out on a branch destined for the chipper. I stopped in my tracks. This predicament required a great deal of deliberation. To prune or not to prune?

I was halted by the consideration that this tree has done all that it can and all that is meant to do in the face of adverse conditions. And we do the same. Leaders learn to forgive themselves and understand that the vision may be huge, but sometimes all that can be created is a small bit of beauty. We beat ourselves up, knowing that we could have tried harder (maybe) or demanded more of others (maybe), but only a fraction of our original vision is ever seen.

Quality over quantity.

So much goes into the work that we do and into the character that we develop, and there is no way that everyone around us can see or appreciate the effort. They see only the product.

As leaders we show others the artifact of our discipline and self-development. We read popular management literature on leadership in order develop ourselves, we invest in coaching and in conferences. All for the rare, glowing moment when we take the right risk and produce the sweetest fruit.

Lest we forget, it’s all worth it – that one exceptional project or occasion when the stars all align and we realize that years of self-study and discipline have produced something truly magnificent.

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