Leaders as Gardeners: Beauty Takes Time

As the father of three daughters I have done my fair share of waiting. This waiting has taught me a valuable lesson that beauty takes time.

One of the characteristics of leaders as gardeners is patience because like gardeners they understand that growth is a process. In that sense leaders as gardeners lead counter culturally in the face of the spirit of this age which says you can have whatever you want and you can have it now. An age where the fast food restaurants have express lanes and you can make almost anything from a packet and cook almost everything in microwave seconds and minutes.

This spirit really troubles me because I see so many young people ill equipped to wait, often brought up by parents who under pressure from their peers, fall into the trap of believing their job is to make everything as easy and as instant for their kids as possible. These parents act like sweepers in the sport of curling, exhausting themselves in the process of trying to remove every obstacle from the path of their kids who glide through life until they hit the real world at which point they collapse through characterlessness when they find that not everything in life comes gift wrapped by overnight courier.

This spirit is also part of a perfect storm that young people have to weather today because as wellbeing told they can have it now they are also increasingly encouraged to dream, to believe they can be whoever they want to be and handed more insight by the internet on how to do marriage, family, life and business than anyone could possibly handle in a lifetime. In my mind this is a set up for disappointment because it creates a generation who rise up with bucket loads of knowledge and enthusiasm today only to fall quickly into disappointment when their dreams don’t come true tomorrow because no one has helped them to understand that overnight success is rare, if indeed it exists at all, because fulfilling a destiny involves making a history and making a history takes time.

Leaders as gardeners have a duty of care to help those they lead, particularly young people to grow by yes, encouraging them to dream, yes, educating them with knowledge but also, and as importantly, equipping them to be able to “wait well”, how to make history in order to fulfil destiny.

Growth takes time and the ability to wait well is important. I confess waiting well is not exactly one of my strengths but something I have learned to do better through years of practice which makes patient if not perfect!

Mark Lawrence is a leadership and culture consultant