We recently came across another Chinese proverb that reminds us of a powerful reason for stepping fully into your life and claiming your leadership. Your ability to grow and nurture people is central to your organization’s, your community’s, and your family’s success.


If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain

If you want ten years of prosperity, grow tree

If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people 

-Chinese Proverb


Over and over again, we have seen that success occurs when leaders step into their power to actively and effectively support the growth of their people. And, as you probably already know, growth happens from the inside and moves outward. Growth happens as people navigate the challenges of their world, as they grieve the losses they encounter, as they celebrate their successes, and as they learn new lessons and let go of interfering habits. Growth requires care, attention and a respect for the individual.


While most of us haven’t been connected to the land in at least a generation (or two), we all seem to know that anything that is worth growing – from grain, to trees, to people – requires attending to the specific needs of that which you are growing, in order to attain the highest quality harvest. As leaders, learning who your people are and what motivates them – what brings them a sense of meaning and purpose, what gives them the skills they need to be effective and efficient, and what support they need so that they can do their work successfully and with a sense of ownership – is central to growing individuals.


In this upcoming week, take a moment and think about the one person you most hope to see grow into their gifts. It could be your child, a dear friend, a colleague, even your boss. Then spend a few minutes to identify the following:


– What brings them a sense of meaning and purpose?


– What skills do they need to develop so that they can be effective in those areas that bring them meaning and purpose?


– What do they need in order to have a sense of ownership over those things that bring them meaning and purpose?


For example, a client’s 14 year old son, David, had become passionate about playing lacrosse. Our client was concerned about this, worrying that it would distract his son from school work yet was open to our suggestion that he consider the above questions when thinking about his son.


The next time he came in he reported that his son loved lacrosse and that being on the team brought him a sense of meaning. But he needed to develop skills to be effective and successful so our client had arranged for him to get some additional coaching from one of the high school stars. Then he talked with David about how he could take ownership for his lacrosse success – which included a baseline grade point average for participation – so together they mapped out the calendar of studying, team practices, additional coaching and games. Our client was delighted, David was delighted and more importantly, David was passionately moving forward, gaining skills and taking responsibility for creating a rich and satisfying life . . . at the ripe old age of 14.


Let us know how you are going to support and help grow one person in your life at contact@carpentersmith.com. We’ll share some of what you tell us in one of our upcoming posts.