With spring here and planting season in many places just around the corner, I came across a garden plan that you might consider this year.
• First, plant three rows of peas: passion, performance and persistence.
• Then three rows of squash: squash gossip, squash indifference and squash criticism.
• There should be three rows of lettuce: Let us be true to our obligations. Let us be unselfish. And let us be loyal.
• Next, plant four rows of turnips: Turn up when needed. Turn up with determination. Turn up with a vision. And most of all, turn up with a smile.
• To complete your garden, you must have thyme: Time for fun. Time for family and friends. And time for yourself.
• Water freely with patience and cultivate with affection. If you do all this, you will reap what you sow.
I’ve seen several variations of this advice over the years. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, grow a garden like this and you will enjoy the fruits of your labors.
As any gardener will tell you, it’s important to choose high quality seeds. Plant and nurture them and be careful to keep the weeds under control! The different varieties of these "seeds" make for a bountiful harvest.
Choosing just three kinds of peas is difficult, but I prefer passion, performance and persistence.
Passion tops the list of the skills you need to excel in any profession. There’s nothing more powerful and more contagious than passion. Passion will enhance your performance too. When you love what you do, you’ll do it better. It really is that simple.
How persistent should you be? I remember when I was starting my sales career and asking a colleague whom I respected how many times he would call on a prospect before giving up. He told me: "It depends on which one of us dies first."
Moving down the rows, planting squash will promote a positive work environment. Squashing gossip is necessary because the damage is not easily undone. Many times the harm that gossip inflicts is irrevocable. The tongue is just 3 inches long, yet it can destroy a person 6 feet tall.
Squash indifference or prepare to lose all your customers. Similarly, squash criticism that is not constructive or offered in a useful spirit.
The lettuce rows allow our real character to bloom. Honoring your obligations represents a commitment to your word that customers expect and appreciate. Unselfishness is fundamental to good human relations. I recently wrote that loyalty is one of the first qualities that I look for in both employees and friends. Someone can be a great worker, but if he or she isn’t loyal, their employment puts the company in jeopardy.
When I plant turnips, I think about how many times people have turned up when I needed them, and I try to return the favor. I am determined to help … and I am determined to get the job done. Vision doesn’t do the planning and it doesn’t anticipate the obstacles. It gives a real idea of what is possible, if only you want it bad enough.
And while a smile may not seem like an important variety of turnips, let me assure you, a smile is one of the most powerful things you can do to have influence over others. That’s why I never underestimate the value of a smile. It should be standard equipment for all people.
Thyme is among the trickiest seeds to grow. If you’re like the average American, you devote 56 hours a week to work, including commuting; 70 hours to sleeping, eating and other personal care; and 42 hours to leisure activities, of which 16 hours are spent socializing with friends and family. WOW. That’s not much personal time.
Remember, the width of life is as important as the length. This is just a short reminder to all of us working so hard for our living. Don’t let time slip through your fingers without spending some quality time with those who really matter.
Finally, you have to have fun. I often write about working hard, and it’s possible to really love what you do. Even then, you need to branch out to truly blossom.
Mackay’s Moral: Don’t be afraid of growing slowly, be only afraid of standing still.
Harvey Mackay is the author of The New York Times’ No. 1 best seller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." He can be reached through his Web site, www.harveymackay.com, by e-mailing [email protected] or by writing him at MackayMitchell Envelope Co, 2100 Elm St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.