By Jeff McManus
“Carve your name on hearts and not on marble.” ~Charles Spurgeon
We had just started dating and one Sunday afternoon, I took my future wife to a local park to explore and have a get-to-know-you-better picnic.
While enjoying our time together, my wife saw a dandelion “puffball” nearby.
As a horticulturist and high-end resort landscape manager, I recognized this obnoxious weed immediately as a foe.
In my world, dandelions are weeds, a menace that needs to be prevented and removed.
In my world, you might take a tool and dig in to try and remove the roots and the entire plant.
The goal is always to increase the quality of a uniform manicured lawn.
As my innocent future mate reached out to pick the white globe dandelion, I immediately cringed and made sure she knew that it was a bad guy, one not to be tolerated and especially not one to disperse into the air.
Heavens, if you blow the seed head, it will surely spread more work and poor quality to the entire park and surrounding areas.
Initially, I thought she was in full agreement as she paused.
Then, she took a deep breath, closed her eyes and blew the seeds into the air, sending her wishes with them.
And with that one breath, she brought back her childhood memories.
I watched the seeds drift away. But as any good high-strung grounds leader knows, this innocent act leads to more weeds in the lawn!
Perfection was so tightly wound into my DNA that I almost missed the bigger picture.
Today, I wonder why she even chose to stay with me after that revealing event.
It was clearly time for me to stand down, enjoy the moment and let the seeds fall where they may.
It wasn’t a time to be right or to share my horticultural knowledge on lawn and weed germination.
It was time to grow a connection with a person who would one day be my wife.
We both saw different things that day.
She saw a fun memory, a chance to enjoy it with a new person and a chance to make a wish.
I almost missed the opportunity to smile, to laugh and build a good rapport.
Thankfully, I took the opportunity, and here we are.
Growing people is about the big picture.
We can drive home all the knowledge, give them all the facts and still miss the mark when connecting with others who want to help us succeed.
Leadership can be a challenge, but connecting with your people allows for better communication, better action and then better results.
Now, go make a wish and connect!
Jeff McManus is Director of Landscape Services at Ole Miss, a keynote speaker, webinar leader and author of the book Growing Weeders into Leaders. Visit jeffmcmanus.com