“The tree which moves some to tears of joy
is in the eyes of others only
a green thing which stands in the way…
As a man is, so he sees.”
Last year at this time, with the semester drawing to a close, I decided to share with my students some images from a recent trip to the Humboldt Redwood State Park here in California.
I wanted to share my childlike enthusiasm for these magnificent trees. I wanted to inspire them to seek out wonder and awe in their lives. I wanted them to remember that in the field of “management” (which is what the course tells us we are studying) we do well to remember that organizational life is first and always a human endeavor.
I wanted them to believe my admonition that a profound sense of awe and wonder – an appreciation for the spectacular miracle that is any living and learning system – is essential if we are to appropriately honor the very real human beings present in our workplaces, responsive to our decisions, trusting of our intentions.
I then took it a step further. I encouraged, even challenged them to choose to be redwoods in their own communities. I suggested that such a choice comes with great risk because a redwood outside of a redwood forest would be seen as a peculiar, if fascinating anomaly. I then suggested that living a “redwood life,” conspicuous though it might be, might just inspire others to do the same, and that we might just create an entire forest of people fulfilling their potential for growth and impact. In fact, it would be the only way for them to survive.
Redwoods are shallow rooted, a shocking realization given their massive size. Instead of deep roots to support them they use their upper limbs to make contact with their neighbors and together form a dense network of mutual well-being.
Stand tall, reach out, help one another. Live a life of wonder and awe at the gifts of living and learning.