4 May 2017

What Gets Attention Grows

This is our 4th blog in the Scarcity vs. Abundance series. It’s starting to grow on me. Because, of course, sharing experiences is part of our vision on Abundance.

I once spoke a gardener, who shared his wisdom with me, and this is his story.

When he started cultivating flowers, he had a good plan for growing a large garden full of roses. What he did was explaining the seeds what he wanted to achieve: a beautiful garden filled with roses. I don’t know why he did that, because the seeds did not understand or respond. But after explaining the goals to them, he sowed the seeds. After a week, he started getting anxious if he would achieve his goals. He had watered the seeds for a while, and some plant siblings appeared. So maybe they listened to him. But his attention was drawn to some disturbing fact. Next to the siblings started to grow a lot of weeds. That wasn’t what he hoped for. So he started focusing on getting rid of the weeds. He bought some ‘round-up’, the best poison available for weed prevention. It got rid of the weeds. But of course, it got rid of the rose siblings as well. His plan never materialized as you can imagine. The gardener got angry at the seeds for not delivering to his promise, threw them away, and gave up his dream.

“Is this actually a good or a bad gardener?”, you might ask. Actually, the main person in this story was a manager, not a gardener.

At OpenBook.Works, we start by working on positive behavior to get results. In fact, if 20% of a group is willing to grow immediately, 60% is unsure, and only 20% is very sceptic, why focus on the latter? If we look at what’s wrong, the “weeds”, we’re stepping towards the scarcity view on the world. What gets attention, grows. So, if you give too much attention to the squeaky wheel, the weeds, you lose interest in the good, and the good diminishes as well.

But too many times in management situations, we tend to explain what people should do to grow. And we tend to focus on giving consequences to the unwanted behavior: punishment. But do you really believe that we need to explain a rose seed how to become a rose? Or punish it for not growing fast enough?

At OpenBook.Works we believe that it is better to water the plant daily, giving compliments as it grows. We believe that giving your co-workers a pat on the shoulder for work well done is much more effective than waiting for the yearly PoP review. And we believe in giving space to growth. This is best accomplished with a forum where there is space for sharing successes and insights. And the weeds? No worries, roses grow higher than weeds, they’ll overshadow them in the end. After all, we live in a world of abundance. It’s your role not to be distracted by the weeds and to give the right example.

Our next Post will be about: Be the Change!

See you again soon……

Max Vermeer is international Business Coach at OpenBook.Works