Reframing Being Pruned as an Opportunity for New Growth


Razor sharp pruning shears make a quick, crisp, whisking sound, as they surgically snip a grapevine.  A career pruning, makes a sound like, “I’m going to need your keycard.” Both are quick, clean cuts, that leave the newly severed, no longer attached to the plant or to the organizational grapevine. The question is, will it whither and die, will it be grafted into a new vine, or will it find a way to root and grow its own vine? Is pruning the end, or is it necessary to bring about new growth?

Maybe those of us, who have experienced professional career pruning, can gain some meaningful insights from a vinedresser.  

When one researches vinedressing,  s/he learns the secret to a bountiful grape harvest, is knowing that grapes are produced on one-year-old vine shoots, often called wood or cane.  Older vine wood, tends to mainly produce grape leaves and non-flowering shoots. The flowers turn into grapes. Each winter a vinedresser must prune off nearly 80% of a vine’s growth. Pruning maximizes the amount of year-old wood on a vine.  Vines that are not pruned grow masses of older wood with many leaves and little fruit. Overly woody and leafy vines suffer from poor air circulation, resulting in deadly fungal infections.

Corporate pruning is often a necessity to spur new organizational growth, or to make the company more financially fruitful.   Old wood jobs are pruned by senior executives, so new jobs can be created, or so that profits can be yielded.  For those of us who have been of the short end of the vine, the snip can feel like the end, when really it maybe the beginning of new growth.

If you’ve ever experienced being pruned from your role, you know it can be a confusing and painful time.  One day the predicable stability of your career path, meets HR’s pruning shear’s snip.  Suddenly you are cut off and cast out.  It’s easy to feel discarded and disciplined.  You ask, What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? You may get stuck for a while asking, Why me?  

When a 12 minute conversation ended my 17 year, upward career path, in a firm I was hoping to remain with for the rest of my career, I was bewildered for a long time.  It would have been easy to become bitter. It was tempting to feel victimized.  Fear and uncertainty produce Oscar worthy nightmares.  Like a sailboat with a cracked mast and shredded sails, the corporate castaway, drifts without a clear course or destination.  They become one of many job seekers who are lost in a sea of emotions.

What I didn’t know then, but I came to understand and appreciate a year later, was I had not been punished.  I had been pruned.  This realization of being pruned, dramatically changed my outlook for the better. It gave me strength and hope to get growing again.

Here’s what I learned while I was stuck in my career doldrums:

1. Life goes on.  You get up. You create a routine. You choose to make your routines healthy, like exercise, religious study, volunteer work, hobbies, or unhealthy habits like drinking alcohol, endless binging on TV and snack food.  

2. Some former co-workers, who you were close to, will stay with you, in a new form of relationship.  Others, will not and you will lose touch with them.  You will meet new people.

3. Losing your title and role, can allow you to find out you always have the only title that no one can take away… called “Me.”  You are more than what you do.  What you do is not who you are. You are the only person on this planet exactly like you.

4. You will choose to put your hope and faith into something.  Choose wisely.

5. Life will never be the same as before you were pruned.  You get to decide if it will be better or worse.

6.  It will take time for a new “what’s next” normal to unfold. What you do while you wait is critical.

While on a 24 hour spiritual men’s retreat with 60 guys from my church, we took a deep dive into the 15th Chapter of Gospel of John.  Jesus and his disciples have just shared the Passover dinner together. He continues to teach them as he knows he only has a short time left with them.  Chapter 15 is where Jesus teaches about the vine and the branches.  He says that God, the Father, is the gardener and He prunes unfruitful branches.  This makes sense to me.  God is justified in cutting off what he judges to be useless branches.  But the second half of verse 2, says that He prunes the branches that do bear fruit, so they will produce even more.

This insight was my personal turning point in accepting what had happened.  I was not being judged and punished.  I had been lovingly pruned, so I could grow again.  What seemed like the end of my professional career, was a chance at age 51, to grow into what God had planned for me. All I had to do was submit to His gardening.  He wasn’t done with me yet.

During that retreat, I realized I had been so driven to find a way forward, that I had not asked God to heal the painful wound where I had been pruned.  As soon as I did, He gladly did. Now I was prepared for new growth and to produce fresh fruit.

There are three options for a severed vine:

1. Be grafted onto the trunk of another vine and start producing as a part of that root system.  This means finding a new job with a new company and fitting in.  For some, this is what the Gardner has planned, and He will greatly bless those laborers.

2. Propagate a new root system so the vine can prosper on its own.  Entrepreneurs are often pruned propagations.  This was what I felt was what the Gardener had planned for me.  It took a year and a half to root my sapling company, AD Growth Advisers Inc..  It was a long hard winter, but by summer, I bore my first fruit.  The work I produced was the best and most rewarding of my professional career. It would have never have happened unless I had been pruned. Pruning is an opportunity to get rid of one’s professional deadwood and unfruitful habits and spur some new growth. 

3. Dry up and die.  I hope you don’t choose this option.

When you find yourself severed, I hope you will trust in the Gardner, and recognize His intention to spur new growth. He will make you more fruitful through painful pruning. Growth takes time and cannot be rushed. Grapes grow on the new growth of year old wood.  

Each year the vinedresser must prune up to 80 percent of a productive vine to ensure productive growth and fruit next season.  Perhaps we should expect to be pruned more often and more deeply.  I don’t know if we will ever welcome pruning and its uncertainty, but if you put your faith in the Master Gardener, you may learn to accept it as normal and appreciate its necessity.

Growth is the surest sign of life.  Here’s to your new fruit!

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Yielding for Reconstruction 


Winter’s busywork of creating potholes has been highly successful this year.  Reconstruction crews are hard at work on what seems like nearly every road I drive.  One street I travel daily, was scraped bare of all of its pavement and the underlying damage to its concrete roadbed was repaired, before it was finally repaved and made like new.  

Winter’s freezing and thawing has a way of breaking up even the sturdiest of foundations.  Reconstruction means unexpected detours and delays as the road ahead is made safe and smooth again.

Trying to travel through a reconstruction zone can be maddeningly slow as traffic is backed up by the crew worker with the sign on a pole.  We all wait for the moment when the Stop sign flips around to Slow, so we can make progress again on our journeys.  When we get stuck in reconstruction, all we can do is yield and wait.

I’ve come to understand the Holy significance of yielding and waiting while life is scraped down to its foundation for repairs.  God can start a life reconstruction project without warning.  Your normal habitual route is suddenly blocked or closed.  You are forced to accept the wait and yield your progress and plans for the promise of a smoother ride or better future destination.  

Do you have the patience to yield life’s progress to allow the Creator of the Universe to strip away what is broken and make repairs?  Does your foundation need shored up and not just patched?  Maybe the road ahead is permanently closed and you are being rerouted to a new, unplanned destination.  Can we trust and yield as the work is done?  The promise is for our paths to be made smooth and straight.  All we must do is wait while the work is being done and stay alert for the signs ahead…Caution, Slow Down, Detour, Stop, Yield.

Frustration is Your Brain’s Check Engine Light


checkengine

Seeing your check engine light suddenly come on can be very frustrating.  Did you know your brain has a natural check engine light?  It’s the feeling of being frustrated.

Whenever you feel frustrated, your brain focuses your attention on the fact that you feel something you value is being denied. Whenever we don’t get our needs/desires satisfied to the levels we want, we get frustrated. It indicates something is judged to be “wrong,” based on a value judgement,  using your values/needs as the standards of “right.”   Frustration provides internal motivation to change your frustrating situation in some way.  The stronger your value/need/desire is to you, then the more intensely frustrated you may feel if you believe your need is being denied or your value is being violated. If something doesn’t naturally matter to you, then it is unlikely to be a source of frustration.  No one situation will generate frustration in all humans.  We are each unique in our values/needs/desires.

For example, let’s say you are on a family vacation driving trip when you notice your check engine light has just come one.  One person might be frustrated because s/he highly values the family time and fears that the engine issue will cut down on the enjoyment of the family’s vacation.  Another person who has a high sense of honor or duty may be frustrated because s/he now feels guilty for not having the engine inspected prior to taking the trip.  A third person may feel frustrated because they desire a sense of order and have planned the entire trip down to the minute and view having to stop and have the engine looked at by a mechanic as an unwelcome change of plans.  The same thing happened to all of these people, the check engine light came on.  Each of them experienced a varying degree of frustration as a natural reaction to the situation based on his/her value judgment.  The key difference is understanding that each individuals frustrated reaction was the result of his/her own strong needs/values/desires.

Dr. Steven Reiss, PhD., is a recognized expert on human motivation and developed 16 Basic Desires Theory. He created the Reiss Motivation Profile®, which is a scientifically valid  assessment tool to measure our 16 individual needs/desires we all share to varying levels as humans.  A great way to understand more about human motivation is to read his book, “Who Am I?”

As a Reiss Motivation Profile Master, I was trained by Dr. Reiss to help people understand what matters most to them and what they need to feel satisfied with life and to avoid frustration.  By completing a Reiss Motivation Profile®, you will discover which of the 16 basic desires drives your behaviors and can be the source of your greatest frustrations.  Once you understand your frustration check engine light, you can create strategies to effectively reduce your frustration and return yourself back to enjoying the trip down life’s highway.

Frustration is a warning, just like your check engine light.  If you leave it unaddressed, then you risk being stuck on the side of the road or worse.  Your brain is not designed to tolerate long-term frustration and so it is best to know how to try to reduce frustration before it becomes a more significant issue which impacts your well-being.

If frustration is lighting up on your mental dashboard?  Perhaps a better understanding of your needs/desires and values can help you stay on the road to success, improve your productivity and increase your sense of well-being.

For your Reiss Motivation Profile® online assessment: Contact me at andy@lifematchesbook.com and I’ll arrange for you to complete a Reiss Motivation Profile® online.  Together we will conduct three 45 minute tele-coaching sessions to review your results and to discover what matters most to you and create strategies to increase your sense of well-being.

Your Reiss Motivation Profile® and three personal coaching consultation sessions are only a total of $988.00 US.

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