The Tree

Some trees were meant for shade, others to provide fruit, firewood and furniture.  Some were meant to look at and admire, while others were meant to become decorations at Christmas.  Apparently, some trees are meant to be relaxing places for people.

There’s a tree along the Brule River in northern Wisconsin that has been photographed many times for over 60 years.  The picture below, featuring my nephew, was taken in 2007.  Somewhere in the family archives there’s a picture of my mother as a young girl reading a book, resting against this exact tree.

Twice recently I was reminded of The Tree.  First, while listening to a recording of a song called, “The Tree” from the musical, “The Me Nobody Knows.”  Second, while reading “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren.  At the very beginning, he quotes Proverbs 11:28 …

“A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump;
a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.”

Despite the moss and the way The Tree leans, it is anything but a stump.  Its roots go deep to drink from the river and anchor its tall trunk firmly in place.  It would seem that the purpose of The Tree is to provide pleasure to our family.


Regardless of how much longer my favorite tree lives, it will always be a symbol about the importance of having a purpose that serves others.

“When you are green you are growing,
when you are ripe you are rotting…
…If we stop growing personally and/or professionally,
we stagnate and start to rot.”

Dr. Sam Lam, < >

The symbolism goes a bit farther.  Someday The Tree will be gone. If I’m around to see this part of the river without my crooked, moss-covered friend, I will be reminded that life is finite and we all have a responsibility to bring value to the world while we’re here. And we can’t do that if we’re not growing deep roots.

Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to grow my roots and help others do likewise by hosting workshops like the one this week led this week by Bryan Flanagan.  On behalf of my colleague David Wright, “Thanks Bryan for  bringing your wisdom, energy, humor and sales experience to Dayton, OH.”

Thoughts About Growth

It’s easy to learn and grow, right? How hard is it to slide an educational CD into the player and push the play button? Is it not just as easy to attend a workshop or read a book as it is to go fishing or watch TV? Throughout human history, there have never been more readily-available opportunities for learning and personal improvement than there are today.

At the same time, it’s just as easy to NOT do these things. In our culture of comfort and security, people more often learn passively by coincidence or by accident rather than strategically and intentionally. So, they end up with an MBA (Masters in Barren Activities) or an MFA (Masters in Fruitless Acts) from the “School of Hard Knocks.”

Growth is a change process that begins with a single step. Few types of change are more important than those related to learning and growth. I’m compelled to ask, what steps are you taking to become the person you were meant to be? How do you feel about your growth process?

“We began to realize that if we wanted to change the situation,
we first had to change ourselves. And to change ourselves effectively,
we first had to change our perspectives.”

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, p. 18.

A growth program looks different for everyone. Yesterday I participated online in a Webinar. I also set aside 30 minutes to reread portions of a phenomenal book about leadership. Today, I will pick up where I left off in “E-Myth Mastery” by Michael Gerber. These kinds of development activities are helping me become more efficient, effective and balanced in my life and business. If it wasn’t working, I would have stopped years ago.

How do you approach your personal and professional growth? Maybe a good book is your next step. This week, many are mourning the death of Stephen Covey, the brilliant thinker, writer and teacher who gave us “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Have you read his book or listened to his audio recordings? If not, consider getting started today on adopting these seven habits.

1. Be Proactive

2. Begin With The End In Mind

3. Put First Things First

4. Think Win/Win

5. Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood

6. Synergize

7. Sharpen The Saw

How long has it been since you attended a workshop? Recently I attended workshops in Houston and Chicago, but you don’t need to travel that far. A small business owners’ workshop is coming to Dayton on September 20, 2012 featuring Tom Ziglar and Howard Partridge.  It’s called “Born to Win.”  Get the details and register at:

“Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise.
View life as a continuous learning experience.”
— Denis Waitley (1933- )

Small Business Owners – Help is on the Way!

Small business is the engine of the American economy.  This is not a cliche, it’s a fact.  “So, what else is new?” you ask sarcastically?  Well, let me tell you what’s new.  To support the entrepreneurs in our community, Development Beyond Learning is bringing Tom Ziglar and Howard Partridge to town for a special training workshop specifically for owners of small businesses.  As a business owner, whether you are struggling to survive OR ready to go to the next level, this day has your name written all over it.

Howard Partridge is a business owner and
John C. Maxwell certified coach.

Tom Ziglar is CEO of Ziglar, Inc. AND
proud son of world-famous Zig Ziglar.

By the way, did you notice that I said “workshop.”  This is not a big arena, bring-your-binoculars,  seminar for thousands of faceless people.  It’s a close-up, interactive, hands-on, full-day workshop with two experts in the field of professional development.  The date is September 20, 2012.  Details and registration information are available at:

NOTE: Seating is very limited so this event will likely sell out quickly as it has in other cities around the world.