Optimal Conditions for Growth

As leaders learn to see themselves as planters and cultivators, they will grow increasingly well attuned to the optimal conditions for growth:

Container: the supportive container for your team members is the thoughtfully defined scope of their work. It is appropriately sized to their role, experience and your expectations. It is adjusted based on progress, conditions, and the inevitable changes that occur.

Resources: soil, water and light for your team members are the information they require about the organization and its plans, how they fit into those plans and easy access to the tools they need to be successful. It is context and perspective about how what they do is connected to the goals and vision of the organization.

Attention: for your team members, regular care and feeding is checking in, asking what they need to be successful, providing recognition, assurance, feedback and necessary course corrections. Too much and they will drown. Too little and they will starve.

Applied with discipline and with care, it is nothing short of a miracle what can occur when living things are provided with conditions that respect and expect the emergence of their inherent potential.

Growth is never a given. It can never be assumed. But it is always possible when the conditions are right.

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Plumeria seedling at three weeks. Photo by Davis Berry (2018)


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.

Can it wait?

If you send an email to a team member this weekend – someone who works for you, reports directly to you – what do you expect them to do?

A} respond and take action immediately

B} respond and delay action until Monday

C} don’t respond, just read it and be aware

D} don’t read or respond…until Monday

Most leaders I talk to say that they send emails on the weekend to simply clear their mind of pressing things. The email serves as a handoff that the team member will receive on Monday morning.

Most leader I talk to do not intend for their team members to read, respond and act on the substance of the email during the weekend. And yet most employees I talk to feel obligated to do exactly that.

Leaders, if you are a weekend emailer – or a late night one, for that matter – will you please make it clear to your team if you expect A, B, C or D above?

Also, before you hit send, pause for a moment and ask, “Can it wait?”

They deserve a weekend. And you do, too.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.

Reach For The High Bar

It’s hard to hold high ideals, to put yourself on the hook for living up to something exceptional. It’s not a question of whether or not you will slip up sometimes because of course you will.

The question is how you use those moments to repair, to learn and to teach.

Against the alternative you’d take your chances with someone willing to strive for something great and mess up along the way.

Against the alternative? You’d take that in a heartbeat.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.

What Is

Once you work through your expectations, your idealism and your fantasies of what will be you are left with what is.

And how you bridge the gap between your perceptions of what could be and the reality of what is determines the quality and stability of your relationships, especially the one with yourself.

The finches born in the nest on our patio are now in adolescence and ready – if not exactly willing – to fly. Mom and dad come to the nest to cajole them out and then fly away to a nearby tree as if to say: “See, it’s just to here. You can do it. Come join me!”

It’s essential to have high expectations.

Just don’t forget to start by meeting them where they are.

DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.