Plant A Tree

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.”  Chinese Proverb

Hopefully you are different than most people. But, by now – in mid-March – many New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside for a great number of well-intentioned folks.  The fact that it is still early in the year can be an uncomfortable reminder of something we really meant to do, yet have once again failed.

This year was going to be the year we get it done! Lose weight. Exercise weekly.  Accomplish that one goal that has been postponed for several years. Eliminate the bad habit that seemingly has control on certain aspects of our daily living. Eating or drinking too much. Spending too much time watching television. Starting a specific new positive habit.  Praying more.  Visiting a friend who needs our support.  Calling a family member who is ill or depressed.  Maybe, go out on a limb and be daring. Be nice to that one really difficult relative (because our spouse or another family member has requested this of us). Read at least one of the 10 books we started or committed to read during the last few years.

Maybe, you belong to a rarer group of individuals who actually made progress enacting those new resolutions.   Your dreams are coming true. With much needed discipline, you have forged ahead into a future that was only an idle wish of the past.

Where are you right now in forming good habits and eliminating bad habits?  Where do you stand with accomplishing important goals? These questions are not time-bound to the new year – they are appropriate to review year-round.

In the fast-paced and time-demanding era in which we live, we have more things to do than time allows. And, unless you are perfect, you probably would really like to eliminate some activities that constrain you. The desire for progress is always present.

Even the most positive-thinking, determined, organized and fruitful people are still trying to make advances in their lives. The Japanese word for this is kaizen. It means continuous self-improvement. Successful individuals, regardless of the category of improvement, are continually working to get better. The best professional golfers daily go to the practice tee during an event in which they are playing. Tournament bass anglers fish between competitions. Speakers recite their speeches in front of family members, peering into a mirror, or by participating in a local Toastmasters International Club.

Advancing technology provides easy access for us to observe the principles and effectiveness of highly successful people.  Where does that leave the rest of us?  How can we move our lives in the direction of our dreams?

Plant a tree. 

‘What?  Plant a tree?’ That’s the answer? Yes, plant a tree! A tree may take decades to mature, but the first act determining future growth takes very little time. The ROI (return on investment) of what on the surface seems to be an inconsequential act – planting a small nut that later becomes a majestic, towering beautiful tree – is hard to comprehend. Yet, it happens. Like that tree, a small act today may foreshadow what you will be like many years from now . . . what you will become over time.

Success is being and becoming the best at what you are meant to be and do in life.

Becoming is part of the success journey. What small step could you take toward that goal or new habit that will change your life forever? Like the 20-year old tree. Decide to make that step today. Plant that tree! You may only need minutes today to change your life forever.

Is this really true?  Just an investment of minutes to change my life forever?  Is this possible? Yes! Again, and again in my own personal life, a tiny investment in ‘planting a tree’ has resulted in the reaping of so much joy and success that it is impossible for me to properly measure. The ROI is off  the charts!

The day I dreamed of Hackbarth Delivery Service. The day I met with a friend to discuss my dream in starting my own company is an indelible memory. It was May of 1975, only six months before the company’s first day of operation.  The notes I took during that important meeting are now treasured documents. A miniscule investment, just a few thoughts at the time, full of hope.  Our company now has over 40 locations in 11 states, positively affecting the lives of thousands of people every single day.

The moment I met Carol, my wife. We crossed paths in a night club. (I wrote about that story in a previous blog titled, Boom-Boom Room). A dance that would grow into a relationship for life.  I can no longer imagine my story without my special partner. Yet, it started with an introduction – it only took a moment.

The day I started reading The Laws of Success by Napoleon Hill. A friend of my dad, Eddie Davis, had not only suggested, but demanded that I start reading positive-thinking literature, and Napoleon Hill was his author of choice. It was over lunch, a moment I can still remember. Over 40 years later, the ‘tree’ (in the form of an idea) planted by Mr. Davis has grown into the important discipline of daily reading.  This set in concrete routine has created much opportunity for success in my life, providing a growing base of knowledge that supports a kaizen-like mentality. It started with someone who cared enough to encourage me.

The baseball game at age 10.  My favorite keynote speech is titled  The BET.  In this presentation, I share a powerful story about what I learned on the baseball mound over 50 years ago. It all got started one morning at a street corner when a special friend, David Hicks, suggested, and strongly encouraged me, to pitch what became a life-changing game. His motivating dialogue included telling me that a newspaper article would be written about me if I achieved this feat. One idea, presented to a 10-year old kid, that would go far beyond a baseball game. It would change my entire life.  I am forever grateful to David.

What trees were planted in your life that made a huge difference? Each one represents a great example of how you can affect your future. A personal blueprint made just for you. A powerful resource – full of energy and motivation. 

All of the major stories of my life, the true game changers, started as very tiny moments. So small were the beginnings that today it defies imagination or possibility. I could not fully know when each journey began what lay ahead. I could not have accurately predicted all the joy, success, blessings and love I would eventually experience.  A mighty oak in the future begins as a small acorn today, one that fits easily into a fragile, hopeful hand. Perhaps, that hand belongs to you.

What acorn has already been given to you? Will you plant it? When?

As a success driven person, I will never get around to accomplishing all of my goals. At the beginning of every new year, I am reminded that there is more to do.  But, I can do something today, small as it may be, that mimics all of the successful people whom I know and admire. I can duplicate what has worked for me, utilizing my own special stories, my personal template.  I can do something now that will make a huge difference in my future. Life-changing!

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is . . .

Today, I will . . .