The power and helplessness of the gardener

Did I really quote Donald Trump?

The gardener has absolute power over their domain. And yet, the limits of that power quickly leads to a helplessness:

The gardener has the absolute power to destroy, but not to create. If they want their garden to flourish, they cannot simply prevail upon it to do so. The power on its own is useless and difficult to wield. It must be used in the service of nurturing, and power is an awkward tool for that.

As for gardeners, so for organisational leaders

Organisational leaders are vested with a large amount of power over their organisation. But just like gardeners, that power can be used much more effectively for destruction than creation.

The organisational leader who wants their organisation to flourish and succeed is thus faced with that same helplessness as the gardener: they have the power that perhaps they had aspired to for a long time, but in finding themselves with the power realise that if fully and frequently used it can lead only to destruction.

Having power and using it for creation is a delicate art. I would quote a former President of the United States, Donald Trump, who in an accidental piece of wisdom about his job said “I thought it would be easier.”

There is a specific time when the power to destroy is aligned with nurturing: this is about destroying obstacles, destroying legacy, destroying to enable rejuvenation. The power must be exercised with compassion, finesse, and subtlety, and rarely in its full force.

For the rest of the time, the power must be put away (though never forgotten). Know this: the main tools of the gardener are not made of steel but of water, wisdom, and patience.

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