THE BLOG
11/17/2013 02:40 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Lessons on Success I Learned in Grandpap's Garden

Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

How do you define success?

I feel that success is defined differently by each individual striving for that elusive abstraction. Personally I like to think about success from the perspective of my grandfather. Grandpap only had an eighth grade education, but in many ways he was the most educated man I knew. Grandpap had one passion in his life: creating a wonderful, healthy garden that would produce a tremendous harvest. As Grandpap would tend to his garden, he would often share with me subtle lessons on leadership, success and life. I call them, "Lessons on Success I Learned in Grandpap's Garden":

1. A plant requires a strong root structure to grow hardy and produce at its best.
In order to be successful, I feel that we too require a strong root structure strengthened with the knowledge and skills necessary to complete desired tasks and reach desired goals. Our root structure also houses our belief system. We must have a solid belief in ourselves. The deeper the roots, the stronger the possibility for success.

"Networking with others opens our minds to an understanding of the needs of others. Success involves more than just self-actualization." -- Rob Furman

2. A garden needs to be planted in a climate conducive to growth, with proper soil, sunlight, and necessary water. Gardens need to be designed so that they develop symbiotic relationships, using different nutrients from the soil and adding various minerals to feed the soil, or requiring different spatial accommodations.
We achieve success as we learn and grow in an environment that supports our growth and development. We flourish in supportive environments, learning and growing from each other. On our pathways to success, we need to find others with both similar and diverse backgrounds and interests. Success often requires networking and is seldom achieved in an isolated environment. Connecting to others often helps us choose shorter paths to success. Networking with others opens our minds to an understanding of the needs of others. Success involves more than just self-actualization. It often involves accommodating others.

3. Weeds must be removed from around the plant to enable proper growth.
Just as weeds are often a problem in the garden, we will no doubt confront many problems on our way to success. We need to keep our life "weeded" and turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones. We must constantly readjust to our surroundings. Rid your life of negativity and focus on your positive mission to succeed.

Angela Duckworth defines success as having grit. She goes on to say that grit represents our passion, and when we are passionate, we then can reach success. I am inclined to believe and agree that being passionate can lead us to a path of success. Grandpap was a passionate man, and consequently had the most beautiful, productive garden in the county (as evidenced by his many County Fair awards). He was indeed a successful man!

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