Years ago, prior to becoming a professional coach, I had a stint selling custom square foot vegetable gardens… okay, it was a failed business idea. Regardless, it taught me a truth I won’t soon forget. I came up with the idea while in Utah, sitting on my brother’s back porch admiring all the vegetable gardens in the neighborhood. It seemed like everybody had one. I remember thinking, “I’d love a vegetable garden but I don’t know anything about gardening.” Then I thought… “I bet people would buy a garden if it was planted for them.” I knew I would. I figured customers could select the vegetables they want, have the garden built, and then plant the plants. The daydream ended where it began, a great idea but I knew nothing about planting vegetables. Fast forward a year. We’re having dinner with some friends from our church, a husband and wife duo who happen to LOVE all things “green”… they were highly educated (we’re talking bachelors, masters and Ph.D.’s) in growing watermelons, squash and everything else you’d want from a vegetable garden. So I tell them my idea to sell pre-planted gardens and they actually like it! The three of us partner up and start building these things and selling them. We go to farmers’ markets and people love our “Ready Bed Gardens.” The idea was simple, “You pick, we plant”. But it didn’t last long. My partners ended up getting pregnant and James, the husband, needed to focus on his Ph.D. (He’s now a professional pumpkin grower in California). It wasn’t just them, I was stretched thin with other projects, one of which is my business today. And since I was never the brains of the operation, we unanimously decided to shut everything down. Even though Ready Bed Gardens only lives on in my heart (and a few backyards), it gave way to a powerful metaphor that taught me a lesson I’ll never forget.
If You Want It, Put It There.
In square foot Gardens, you have limited space to work with. Therefore, you have to be choosey about how to fill the space based on your wants and needs. Additionally, certain types of plants require different amounts of space. For example, If you love carrots or radishes you can plant about 16 plants per square foot. If you want beans or spinach, though, you can only plant 8. If you want kale, you can only plant two. Adding to the complexity, seasonal windows exist for different types of plants. Some must be planted in the spring while others are best planted in the fall. For some plants, planting windows also exist within each season which creates even more limitations. You see where I’m going with this.
Be The Gardner
To fully enjoy the benefits of a vegetable garden you have to plant the right plants at the right time, in the right way. You have to put them there, tend to them and give them the best chance to grow. Depending on your season of life you may have a lot of square feet to work with or you may have very little. Regardless of the amount of space, choosing the right things to fill your garden with and giving them the best chance to grow, really matters. You can’t plant “relationship” seeds and allow those tender plants to be crowded out by career seeds. You can’t expect that giving meager space for seeds of health, will yield the kind of healthy harvest that allows you to live on your own, or remain active and mobile into your aging years. And you can’t expect your mind will stay sharp if you plant one “book seed” for every 77 Netflix seeds… or I guess now it’s Disney+ seeds? You can take the metaphor as far as you’d like but I hope the point is clear. If you want it in your life LATER, you have to put it there NOW. And in contrast to a really great failed business idea, the seeds of life can only be planned, planted and nourished by you. This is a big part of why I do what I do. We rarely look beyond the immediate harvest and consider the coming seasons and probable conditions. Even if we do consider them, we rarely make the changes with as much speed and urgency as we should. Imagine if we charged at change as we did with the anticipation of a new streaming service, a new movie or the next season of our favorite show.
What Does Your Garden Look Like?
Perhaps you’ve got a freshly tilled soil bed because you’re just starting out or because you’re starting to wrap up. Or maybe your garden bed is feeling a little crowded and overrun. Either way, consider the season you’re in, the season that’s coming, and the kind of harvest you’d like to enjoy. Happy planting.
Greer Method Complete Coaching provides one on one coaching for executives and business owners. We give our clients the knowledge and tools to confidently and aggressively pursue goals with an integrated team of expert coaches, habit locking technology, and proven processes.
Jared J. Greer is the founder of Greer Method Complete Coaching. He is an executive coach, 7-time Ironman finisher, marathoner, ultra-marathoner, husband, and father of four.