"Most men live lives of quiet desperation," (Henry David Thoreau). I had no idea what that quote meant after reading it for the first time at the age of 15. The whole world was still in front of me, and I was filled with a positive expectancy that I could accomplish everything and overcome anything.
Does that quote have some meaning today? We have all felt some sort of uneasiness and uncertainty in our lives. This feeling of uncertainty often escalates into desperation—quiet desperation that can leave us feeling unfulfilled and frustrated.
As I have aged now more than 37 years, I have come to realize that quiet desperation does not need to be a negative force holding us back. It's more of a challenge, calling from the future for us to do something. It is the willingness to take action that can transform the frustration into fulfillment.
Let me provide a couple of quotes from some Green Industry philosophers I have known through the years to help us work through this.
"I am in no way confused," Mike Rorie, CEO of GIS Dynamics. Rorie lives this philosophy when you consider his accomplishment of taking the landscape company he started in high school and growing it to more than $30 million before selling it. Now he uses the same philosophy to bring technological innovation to the industry. If we can focus on what we are good at and stay committed, we will enjoy the journey of success.
"If you want to ride the wave, you have got to get into the water," Michael Hatcher, president of Michael Hatcher & Associates in Memphis, TN. I wish you could personally hear the enthusiasm Hatcher has when he declares this battle cry. He knows that if we are going to accomplish the things we want, we need to take the first steps and simply get started.
"Never be afraid of your potential," Nick DiBenedetto, president of ND Landscape in Boston, MA. This one is so significant because DiBenedetto is quoting his mother from many years ago when she was talking to him and his sisters during her last days battling cancer. We can often be intimidated by what we are capable of accomplishing. Only when we are willing for the responsibility of success can we achieve our full potential.
"Decide what a win looks like and then stay in your lane to achieve it," Bob Coulter, partner at JP Horizons. Coulter has coached many leaders in the landscape industry. When he peers over his glasses into the eyes of someone sitting across the table, that individual knows that they must get a clear picture of what they want. They then must ignore the distractions or urge to focus on what others may or may not be doing in order to achieve that win.
"When I ball a tree, I ball a tree," Tallmadge Crabtree. We called him Tree Man because he was part of the tree-digging crew that was my introduction into the Green Industry while in college. Tree Man's wrinkled face and two-pack-a-day, non-filter habit made him look more like 92 than 62. But he could ball, burlap and pin twice as many pine trees as any of us vibrant, young college boys. Tree Man was in the moment simply doing what he was supposed to be doing—and anything outside of finishing one tree and moving to the next was simply not important.
Can we put into practice the teachings of these modern-day philosophers this year? We just might find ourselves quietly moving from desperation and frustration to fulfillment and accomplishment, providing an opportunity for others to quite possibly quote us.