In Canada, Thanksgiving is supposed to be a celebration of the harvest.  An appreciation for all that that is the growing season produces. 

I currently live in an area that was once known as apple country.  There are apple farms around here.  Fewer than once before, but still apples are an important part of the area.  Just beside my house is active farmland.  My neighbors care for a large personal garden and share some of their harvest with us.   Evidence of the beauty of the earth and all it can provide us surrounds me.  

When I think of the celebration of the harvest season, I do think of the land around me.  But I also think of the relationships and the business that I care so much about.  

Our relationships are a product of the effort we put into them.  Our relationship is like the plants we harvest in the fall.  

We plant the seeds, and then we have to nurture them to help the relationship grow.  

The key is that we have to nurture those relationships with intention.  We have to put intentional effort into growing them. 

Business is no different.  We have to grow our business with intention.  Businesses don’t grow without intentional action. 

Our businesses start from an idea, a seed, and then nurture that idea with action.  We grow stronger businesses if we do so with intention.  

Let me tell you about my garlic.   I planted garlic last fall.  The garlic bulbs arrived in the fall as expected.  I took the garlic bulbs out of the bag and proceeded to plant them in a plot of land I selected for the garlic.  I dug the soil and dropped the garlic bulbs in.  I didn’t research anything.   

I didn’t think about that garlic again until the spring.

I don’t know what made me think about the garlic; I just did.  It was then that I realized that I may have planted the garlic wrong. 

I did.  I planted the whole bulb as one.  I did not plant the individual cloves.  I panicked. 

I pulled out one of the growing garlic, and sure enough, the individual cloves were all trying to grow in the same space.  They were crowded and sad-looking.  

I tried to salvage the garlic.  I pulled the individual cloves apart and replanted them. 

I then forgot about the garlic again. 

When I thought about them again in early summer, I pulled one out and discovered that my garlic looked small and undeveloped. 

I then did more research and discovered that a lot of the development of garlic happens through the winter. 

I decided to leave the garlic in place and wait.  

I forgot about the garlic again.  

I remembered about my garlic as I started to think about the fall planting season.  It was then that I thought that I really should pull out the garlic.  

I waited too long to harvest the garlic.  When I harvested it, the top of the garlic was thin and dry.  The tops just broke off, leaving the garlic bulbs in the ground.  I had to dig them out one by one. 

The resulting garlic was small, really not worth the back-breaking effort I put into harvesting them. 

The garlic is like relationships.  I didn’t build a plan.  I didn’t follow a plan or nurture the plant.  I planted the seeds and only checked on them when I thought about it.  The result was a meager harvest.  

Very clearly, I am not a farmer. 

I did not transfer the knowledge about nurturing relationships and businesses to my garlic.  

This is why I believe so strongly in having a plan and acting on the plan.  Why I so strongly believe we need to manage our businesses proactivity instead of reactively.   Why I believe in setting up systems and processes, so we have the foundation to nurture and build relationships and businesses.  

This year, I’m doing things differently.   I’m renting a tiller to do a better job of preparing my soil.  When my garlic arrives, I will separate the cloves and plant them individually.   I will schedule check-in on my garlic, so I don’t forget about them.  Next year I will even enjoy the garlic scapes before we harvest the garlic.  Next year I hope I’m replanting a portion of my own garlic! 

You plant seeds every single day, in the world and in others, with every thought you think and word you speak and action you take. You have influence. You’re making a dent in the universe and you matter, in a very real way.

Jennifer Williamson