We tend to hear a lot of stories showcasing the 10,000 hours rule of success. This theory states that by the practice of a skill you can perfect it which leads to mastery and growth.
In the plant world, there seems to be another proven growth strategy- Pruning.
It has been well known that the plant hormone auxin is released by the plant’s actively growing tip and is transported down the main stem where it has an indirect effect on buds to inhibit branching. But if substantial amounts of auxin already exist in the main stem, export from an additional shoot tip cannot be established. Until recently we did not know why.
Professor Leyser, of the University of York’s Department of Biology, who led this discovery said we know that the main shoot dominates mostly because it was there first, rather than because of its position at the apex of the plant.
But by using the mechanism of pruning, all the shoot tips on a plant compete with each other, so that tips both above and below the main stem can influence each other’s growth. This allows the strongest branches to grow the most vigorously, wherever they may be on the plant.
This rebalances the historical dominance of the main shoot and reprograms the plant to grow based on emergent positions of vigor and vitality.
This looks a lot like one of the dilemmas of an entrepreneur’s journey. How to keep our core strengths and yet find new ways of reimagining them for growth.
We have to practice the art of self-pruning.
It begins with recognizing our main stem first.
The skills and mindsets that we grew up with. What we have become habituated to. Or what we think we know well and consider ourselves an expert in. Now, this could be positive or negative.
Both are candidates for the axe.
We have to learn to let go of things that don’t serve us anymore.
We have to be prepared to `look’ like we are losing ground/ getting smaller.
We have to be prepared to be open to seeing what new skills and interests emerge from being curious about ourselves.
We have to be prepared to let go of social structures that define who we are and set out to redraw our zone of comfort and growth
We have to be open to giving up on the security of the main stem and its traditional benefits and allow the entropy of the prune to rearrange and redesign our psychological state. A lot of work is going on right now in the role psychedelics can play in helping us let go and loosen the Default Mode Networks in the brain. Worth a read in the link above.
We have to nurture the new growth that emerges from the self-investigation and follow them and act on them.
We have to be prepared that not all the new branches will bear fruit or flower but we must have the faith that they are adding to helping us become more complete as humans.
Carl Jung talks about this idea of a complete human in his individuation process. He talks about how we are all growing and discovering our true nature and have the potential to become complete humans. He encourages us to seek completeness instead of perfection.
Self Pruning is like coming up with a new self strategy by deciding to sacrifice first.
“A choice is not a choice until we decide what we will give up. We must subtract first, then multiply.
The Latin root of the word decide is caedere, meaning to “cut down” or “kill.” Yet we tend to balk at this act of sacrifice — and this failing carries a heavy cost.
Another great example in nature of sacrificing and getting a survival advantage comes from the common red clover. In this battle for survival, the common red clover has devised a remarkable strategy. Its flower has a unique feature — a long, thin funnel leading to the nectar at its base. Only bees, which have very long tongues, can reach the sweet nectar. Other insects are shut out. It’s a strategy based on what this plant has “decided” not to do.
The beauty of this choice is that bees fly farther than other insects, stopping at more flowers and thus increasing the chances of successful pollination. In effect, the red clover has formed an exclusive alliance with bees that ensures that its pollen is distributed more widely than other plants, giving it a crucial competitive advantage.
So if you want to grow – don’t just practice a skill. Also, think about what you might need to prune. Follow both – fearlessly and with faith. And don’t let the main stem decide the shape of the rest of your life.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want a deeper connection with our community, please join us as a Premium Member today.
Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info?
Photo credit: Gurpreet Singh on Unsplash