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The Wisdom of Corrective “pruning” in Life

I had the grueling experience over the weekend of chopping back a wild tree that was crowding my garage and whose branches draped across the roof all summer, scraping up a storm. As I labored and cursed the wicked thing, I couldn’t help but think how much easier it would have been for the previous owner to prune it in small ways all the while it was growing. Instead, I confronted something that was half dead and gnarled to a point of true ugliness. At one point, I was tempted to call a friend to bring his truck and a heavy chain so I could rip it out of the ground.

That kind of physical labor always provides think time and my thoughts turned to the way people grow. If we’re lucky, we have people in our world who correct our thinking early and often, shaping us in positive ways. As I get involved with people who seek to make changes in their working lives, some are easier to work with than others. If there was no early pruning, they are much more resistant to change. Their thinking is often as gnarly and set as the branches I chopped apart this weekend. Some of them have told me that they are on the brink of being fired. As I thought about tearing my tree out, I could sympathize with some of their bosses.

The point is that we all need direction and guidance. Many of us, at some point or another, resist it as well. That’s normal.
But if we can look at correction as useful in shaping a confident and productive future, we’ll be grateful for it. On the other side of that coin, if you are in a position to provide this kind of feedback and guidance, please don’t shirk the responsibility. Whether it is conducting a performance appraisal, setting direction for a new venture, establishing boundaries for acceptable behavior, or otherwise pruning misguided action, it is a privilege. Please do it thoughtfully. You’ll be helping someone to a more positive future and you’ll save someone further down the line the aggravation of confronting something nasty.

Categories: General Advice

About Susan Marshall

Susan Marshall

Susan A. Marshall is author, speaker and founder, whose mission is to create a stronger, more confident future, one person or team at a time.  Through personal experience and hands-on work with executives from diverse industries at all levels, Susan has had the privilege of helping thousands of people do the difficult and exhilarating work of growth.