Don’t Waste Time Watering Rocks!

Leader How does your Garden Grow?

 “Don’t waste time watering  the Rocks.” Part 3 of 5

You have to make sure to spend your energy on the right things.

Growing a garden is hard work.  Planting a garden is hard work. Setting the environment for maximum growth is hard work.  Maintaining the garden is hard work.  Leading an organization, setting a direction and vision for an organization, doing the work so that an organization can grow is all hard work. You do not have time to waste of tasks which do not yield effort and are a waste of effort.  Do not waste time watering the rocks! Leaders do not have time to waste watering rocks.

Rocks represent those things in your organization which are firm in the culture of the organization. It can be procedures, values, traditions, or even be people. “We have always done it this way.” There are people in organizations who do not like change. There are people who will not change. There are people “who are who they are” and will not bloom into anything different. In organizations there are values and beliefs that are old as the organization and will not change. Old ideas can be rocks as well. Some leaders spend too much of their time on things that will not and do not change. Do not waste time watering rocks.

Rocks do not grow. If the purpose of your efforts is to make things in your garden grow, then watering rocks is a waste of your time, efforts and resources.  Rocks do not grow.  They can be polished, sanded, buffed, or even painted but watering a rock will not make it grow… no matter how much you wish it to do so. Stop watering rocks!!Water represents your energy and resources. Using them in such a way and wishing for an impossible outcome is not only exhausting, but frustrating, and futile.

Instead spend your time watering those things in your garden that will grow, sprout and bloom as the results of your efforts and investments. There are people in your organization who have great potential to grow and be better. New employees, new teachers, talented team members, and people with hidden potential.  As a leader you have the responsible to nurture those who follow you and are in your care. This will make your organization better and the best version of itself

Rocks can be removed. If a rock is in the way of the garden’s growth, rocks can be moved to a different part of the garden or can be removed all together from the garden. Rocks can be repurposed and add to the landscaping plan and can add contrast. People can be transferred, teams can be shuffled, goals can be changed, duties can be reassigned, and mission & visions can be reworked.  This may make your garden better more functional. However, removing some rocks can leave huge holes which must be filled with new soil or plants. However, this must be part of the garden plan.  Rocks can be incorporated into your plan. Core values which are important to your organization should be part of your plan. They may just need to be place in different contexts.

Sometimes they are not worth removing. Sometimes its best just to let the rocks stay and lie where they are. Rocks can be small or huge. Rocks can be buried deep into the ground and can be very heavy making them very difficult to move and a waste of resources to attempt to move them. You can spend countless hours, resources and man power only to discover it will not be moved. Sometimes you have to evaluate whether or not the removing the rock is worse than just letting it remain and focusing on the garden and the new growth.

If you focus on your new growth and plants which grow, rocks can be a covered up with new growth when plants are in full bloom. The rocks can remain, but you shift the focus from them to the rest of the garden’s fresh blooms and growth. As the gardener, you shift your efforts to changing the focus in your garden.

Everything in your garden can have purpose if you account for it in your plan. However, you must understand its purpose and function. As the gardener it is your job to set the purpose for your garden. It is also important that the gardener sets what the focus should be and where you spend your most valuable resource which is time. Time is precious. Energy is limited. Change is difficult. Do not waste your time watering the rocks. Spend your time watering the plants that will grow. You must figure out something else to do with the rocks. Because rocks don’t grow.

As a leader:

  • What rocks are you watering?
  • What types of rocks have you noticed in your garden?
  • Do your rocks have the right purpose in your garden?
  • What is your plan for your rocks?

Read my blog posts and reflect to see “How your garden grows.” Please leave comments so that I can “grow” too.


“Leader How does your Garden Grow?: It’s more than just planting seeds!”

 “It’s more than just planting Seeds”  Part 2 of 5

As leader it is your job to influence your environment and organization for maximum growth for all stake holders.  This requires skills and often finesse.  You become the lead Gardner for your organization, school or group. If it was just as simple as planting seeds and then walking away everyone would have a green thumb and be an excellent gardener and all schools and organizations would thrive and grow, prosper and achieve. However, to be a gardener that transforms their organization and gets the most growth from its stakeholders, a leader has to put in constant and consistent work. 

The Gardener must have a Plan. Before you plant or do anything, the gardener must have a vision of what type of garden they want and what is its purpose. What are you trying to grow? Is it a food garden to provide food? Is it a flower garden to provide beauty? Is it a pollinator garden to attract insects like butterflies and bees?  Is to prevent the land from eroding?  Is it to transform a space? Whatever the purpose the Gardener must know before the work is put in.  The gardener must have an idea what they want their garden to look like in the end. What types of colors? What height of plants? So as a leader  ask yourself what do you want from your school, staff and students?  What is your goal for your school? What is your vision? What does success look like in your school?

Preparation is key. Before you begin a garden, you must gather all the needed materials and resources necessary for your garden to begin. You need to gather your tools and your equipment and the hands and help, if you need help, to build your garden.  You need to gather the plants, seeds, pots, mulch, rocks, and other materials you need to make up your garden. Some people can gather everything at once and complete it all in one big push because they have the resources, equipment, money, and the help.  Others are limited and plan their gardens one step at a time or work in phases to do a little at a time. Without this step, the execution of the plan can fall apart or be difficult. What do you need to make your vision a reality? Do you need the right staff? Do you need volunteer help? Do you need financial resources?

Prep the ground for the best results.  In order to plant seeds. You must prep the ground to receive the seeds. You must till the soil and break up the soil. You must remove barriers and things which may impede the growth of the seeds such as rocks, tree stumps, trash and dead plants.  If the soil is not rich, you may mix in some new soil to boost it up or add some nutrients in the soil. You may even put down a barrier which gives the seeds a chance to grow without other influences or weeds that you can not see at the time from growing. Have you prepared and removed all obstacles to your goals?

You must pull the weeds. Once planted you must maintain and keep up your garden. You must water your garden, care for your plants and you must pull the weeds. The weeds are the influences and distractions which choke the productivity in your garden. Weeds sprout up any and everywhere. Weeds are natural. However, if not addressed, weeds will spread and choke out the rest of the garden by taking away the nutrients. If your organization or school uses people or has people in it …. Weeds can grow. The types of weeds often seen in a school garden are conflicts, gossip, rumors, personality conflicts, disagreements and seeds of discord. As the leader you must pull the weeds as soon as they show up. The longer you wait the more they spread and the more work it takes to pull them up. As a leader you must monitor conflicts and sources of conflict in your school or organization. You can help prevent weeds by using some weed killers. Weed killers are the things that you do to be proactive to prevent conflicts in your staff. Team building, fairness, morale building activities, clear expectations, clear communication, and staff recognitions are great examples of weed spray that can help prevent weeds in your garden.

Picking the right plants. When planting a garden, you must be sure that you choose the right types of plants. There are so many different types of plants that you can plant in your garden. There are fragrant plants, blooming plants, ground cover plants, and different color plants.  You must be sure that plants you choose, fit the garden that you have and the garden that you want. You must make sure that the plants that you have in your garden are suited for the weather and climate. Does your garden get direct sunlight or is in the shade? Is your climate dry with little rainfall or is rainfall abundant?  Some plants will not do well in certain environments. They will not achieve their maximum potential without lots of work and maintenance. Sometimes the gardener can choose the wrong plants and spend too much time maintaining the plant because it is just planted in the wrong location or needs to be moved to another garden. Not all plants will thrive in the garden you plant.  As a leader in your school or organization you make sure that you have and choose the very best staff and people for your team.  You not only have to be sure that you have the best people but the right people for the tasks, the jobs and for the work in your organization. Also as a leader you must recognized that not all programs and initiatives can be work in every school. You must know your community and school.

Master Gardeners must grow too. Gardeners must continue to learn in order to create the gardens they desire and to maintain them. Master Gardeners train and develop their skills.  They read about the plants or seeds they have planted and how to bring out the maximum potentials.  They talk to other gardeners and visit other gardens to learn.  They know that in order to have the best garden, they must be the very best gardener.

As a leader

  • What type of garden are you trying to plant?
  • What is your maintenance schedule and routine for maintaining your garden?
  • Have you identified the weeds and a method of weed control?
  • Do you have the resources to build and maintain the garden you desire?

“Leader ,How does your Garden Grow?”

“Introduction : How does your Garden Grow?” Part 1 of 5


During the summer, as many principals across the world, I spend the time “off” preparing my school building and campus for the new school year and the arrival of staff and students.  I work on curriculum, instructional themes, plot strategies, building improvements, facility upgrades, building partnerships, and even …landscaping. This summer I found myself working on my “Friday “project of improving the front entrance landscaping to make it more visually appealing to our guests, staff and my students.  I made many trips to the local Lowe’s and Home Depot (and made a few friends at both stores). I hauled many, many bags of mulch, gravel, soil and trays of flowers. I spread the fresh mulch, added all the gravel, added edgers, remove dead shrubs, cut tall weeds, and planted new colorful flowers.  And like most principals and teachers… I spent a lot of my own money to make the project happen just right.  Anyone who has ever planted a flower garden, or any garden knows that it is now an easy task …no matter what you may see on television or in a magazine! It is hard work. It requires a lot of thought, planning, effort, countless hours of labor and maintenance. The work can be demanding, tiring, lonely, frustrating but when done correctly it is very rewarding in the end.

As I worked, planned, and watched the vision take shape, I thought to myself that this is a perfect analogy of what being a school leader is like. The leader is the lead gardener and the garden is your school: all of the people, students, strategies commitments, missions and visions. It is the job of the school leader to create a beautiful garden, maintain it, and help it grow to its full potential. The school garden must be carefully planned cultivated, nurtured, and worked to create a garden which everyone can enjoy and benefit.

 The leader toils and works during school breaks and after hours to make sure that their school is ready and growing. The leader continues to nurture their school once the seeds have been planted and school year begins.  They make sure that all the members of their school are supported and cared for so that they can bloom. The leader also recruits help when needed, researches better techniques, and brings in additional material when needed. It is hard work and tedious work, but the leader believes in the garden and knows that the work is worth it. The benefits and rewards are great and are for all. Are you the lead gardener at you school? 

  • Are you the lead gardener for your school or organization?
  • Does your garden need some help or is it prospering?
  • How does your garden grow? Is it healthy?

Read my blog posts and reflect to see “How your garden grows.” Please leave comments so that I can “grow” too.