Do you remember plucking dandelions out of the ground and making a wish as you blow their seeds into the air when you were a kid? I do. I remember the last time I ever did it because right after I took that breath, I heard my dad loudly scolding me. Why was he so upset? Because with every stream of breath, I was blowing the seeds of a weed all over our yard.
To me, as a kid, and to many kids still, the plant that bears dandelion seeds looks like some kind of strange flower. A fun flower at that. You gently blow and watch the intriguing design of this flower fall apart as its "petals" fly through the air.
My dad knew something I didn't though. Weeds kill. Well, they don't as much kill as they steal life for their growth. What I mean is, a weed's purpose is not to kill everything around it. Its purpose is like every other plant - to grow. The way it grows, however, is by forcefully sucking up all the nutrients in the soil faster and more efficiently than other plants, thereby leaving the other plants to wither and die.
This goes back to the simple idea in Part 4 of the Growth Is Simple blog series - For growth to happen, something has to die.
Weeds indicate that the soil and environment are ripe with the ingredients for growth. That's why they sprouted up. They smelled something growing. That's why they attempt to divert all the nutrients to themselves rapidly. They know they can grow here.
Have you ever looked at setbacks or obstacles as a sign that it was time to quit? Maybe the business income took a hit. Engagement at church is down. Someone turned on you unexpectedly. Whatever the impediment, it shook your confidence. Even after you've been focusing on investing in the right things that produce growth, made major changes personally, cut out bad habits, and more...weeds started to grow.
What if those weeds aren't a sign that something is dying, but that something is growing? Perhaps the presence of weeds is a sign that what you've been investing into has taken root and is showing signs of life, and that is why the weeds are present.
Some people might say that when weeds are present, it's because something you're trying to grow is already dying or dead. But, that's simply incorrect. The truth is, weeds are a sign that growth is present.
The mistake I and countless others have made when we recognize weeds is we tend to treat them with the eyes of a child. We look at their potential as something beautiful and believe if we lightly blow on them, then magically they'll disappear. The truth is, weeds have to be killed the moment you spot them.
Weeds distract by blending in as if they belong. They disguise themselves as child-like plants and we delicately blow their seeds around. So, we believe that their destruction is as simple as stepping on them and grinding them into the ground. But, weeds don't suffer from you stepping on them, plucking their heads off, or even spraying chemicals on them. Weeds have to be pulled up by their roots and thrown away.
Every weed I've experienced in business, leadership, family, or any environment has always attempted to do one thing - distract me. The longer that weed can keep me distracted, the more it's feeding and growing. And the more it feeds and grows, the faster what I'm trying grow is withering and dying.
So, what are the weeds you're experiencing right now? Maybe it's a weed that someone else planted. Or, what if it's a weed that you unwittingly planted yourself? Is there a habit that is so strong that it's causing your personal growth to wither and die? You'll know it's a weed because it's been getting stronger while your will, success, and growth are getting weaker.
If you treat weeds in your life like dandelions, and play with them, or give them time to catch a breeze, they'll spread their seed rapidly and profusely until the entire ground is filled with them. Your time will then be spent doing nothing but pulling weeds. But, if you can uproot them the moment you see them, you can prevent a great loss and celebrate healthy growth.