I really like the word cultivate. I have found myself using it frequently in my teaching and consulting work. Even in my personal life I find the term useful. Living in the Midwest, in the farm belt, the term is a familiar one. In our gardens, we cultivate the soil, we prepare the ground to support what we intend to plant and hope to see grow and flourish. I remember growing up in a small town in Oklahoma and spending hours helping my parents in our giant garden – roto-tilling, picking out rocks, raking, hoeing, planting, weeding, and watering. I was most excited about the chance to harvest, to pick the cherry tomatoes, the cucumbers, the various melons. As an adolescent I was by far most interested in eating fresh items right from the back yard! Well, my father passed away when I was just 12 and the family garden soon became a memory.
Fast forward 40 years. A couple of years ago when we moved our mom to an Alzheimer’s facility – we packed up and sorted out 50 years of memories. I found in her kitchen drawer an old, faded spiral notebook. Inside it contained my parent’s hand drawn garden layouts, the rotation from one summer to the next, detailed descriptions of how much was planted and how much was picked, canned, and/or frozen. The notebook also contained descriptions of the specific plant varieties and seeds they used. My mom and dad were quite intentional about what they cultivated. Both in our acreage garden as well as the 5 children they raised.
Can the same be said about our organizations and our relationships? Are we establishing the groundwork for change to emerge? for our relationships to have a sound foundation? Cultivation is the beginning of transformation and growth.
The important factor for me then is how much are we really conscious of what we are cultivating? So often it seems we are on autopilot, not fully aware of our decisions, our choices, or even our actions. Even more deeply is the intentions behind our behaviors. Cultivation and intentionality go hand-in-hand.
So as we move into Fall, consider what are you preparing to harvest in your life? What has been growing and developing? Because the old adage is true, we do reap what we sow. What will be in your garden notebook when other’s look back on your life? So be intentional with what you are planting. Cultivate mindfully. Cultivate your life.
If you find yourself pondering similar questions around your own unique adaptive challenges, connect with me on my website, www.drjimmaddox.com or find me on LinkedIn. I would love to explore how you and or your organization can experience life to the fullest and engage in positive, transformative change.