Hedging for Support.
My inspiration for this article comes from an afternoon spent trimming a three-hundred-yard long hedge and picking up all the extraneous branches that were removed (ok – my husband did most of it) in order to allow the hedge to thrive and be at its best.
It gave me a new perspective on SUPPORT: a shift from thinking about support as something that is provided or added to someone, such as resources, help, structures, or advice, towards a realization that support may sometimes mean taking something away, removing or tidying up what’s not needed and clearing the way for new growth to flourish.
By many standards this garden hedge would be deemed a high performer – it is long, thick, lush and contains a variety of different shrubs and trees which over the years have been allowed to intertwine and integrate into one impressive structure. It doesn’t need us to add anything to it. The support it needs is simply to trim away its unnecessary branches once or twice a year so that its leaves access the sunlight they need to look their shiny best, and that it’s roots are kept clear of intrusive, stifling weeds so that they can drink in the nourishing rainfall.
I pondered how this might inform us as leaders and coaches to see what our clients and team members might — or might not — truly need to support them being their best, to thrive, feel nourished and enable them to perform and produce results. It made me think that sometimes we are perhaps too ready to add more and more support, if only because there’s always something new coming along with another option for how to do something better — another book, the next webinar, another app, or the latest theory.
Yet, what if, instead of always thinking we have to add more to ensure people are appropriately supported, we might better serve them by removing excess or untidy elements, like the straggly branches which stick out and spoil the clean lines of the hedge and which can end up getting in the way of natural and purposeful growth. By sometimes recognizing, and helping others recognize, that they more naturally have everything they need to be successful in pursuit of their goals and achievements and that they simply need to attend to what they need and look after it. That they don’t need excessive or unguided support if they focus on the essentials that feed their roots and define how they present themselves to the world.
Like our magnificent hedge, I’ve come to see that less can be more. That trimming away the excess and defining a simple, yet well defined, shape for growth and performance, may be all that’s needed.