Several small but significant tornadoes tore a path through our community. No one was killed, but a number of homes were severely damaged, many by trees that had been uprooted and tossed into the houses. This event reminded me of a Japanese businessman’s comments after observing the aftermath of a hurricane.
The businessman said numerous beautiful trees had been ripped out of the soil and scattered, like weeds in a garden. Other stately trees had remained standing, unaffected by the storm. He noted one difference: The trees torn down had shallow root systems, so when the rain and winds came, they fell with relative ease.
I think this has clear application for all who work in today’s turbulent business and professional world. Without question the global marketplace often experiences tumultuous, often unexpected shifts. Economic upheaval has caused hardship for individuals, companies and entire industries. Constant and escalating technological change has left many organizations reeling. Many have not survived these storms of uncertainty and the unknown.
So how are we – as individuals and as corporations – to withstand these winds of change? How can we avoid becoming uprooted and cast aside to perish?
The key is a solid, enduring “root system.” Corporately speaking, this includes a strong sense of mission, one that has been clearly articulated to staff, customers and suppliers. In essence, “Why are we here, and what do we do?” Equally important are the values you and your company embrace. These answer the question, “How do we do what we do?” In other words, what are your ethical non-negotiables – what are the standards you will never compromise, no matter what?
Another important part of your root system can be vision – where are we now, and where do we see ourselves headed into the future? As one translation of Proverbs 29:18 states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
We can adopt our values from the surrounding culture; we can choose our mission from any number of sources; our vision can take many forms. But even in the 21st century, one root system seems beyond compare – the Word of God. Here are some of the principles it offers:
A solid foundation stands strong. Speaking to his followers, Jesus Christ offered a construction analogy. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).
An unstable foundation is quick to fall. Jesus then warned of the folly of knowing what is right to do, but failing to implement it. “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the wind blew and beat against the house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:26-27).
An eternal foundation can endure every storm. The most secure root system of all, the Bible declares, is anchored in a growing relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It establishes mission, defines values, and clarifies vision. “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith…” (Colossians 2:6-7).
Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today's Workplace; Tufting Legacies; coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous other books, including Advancing Through Adversity by Mike Landry. Bob's website is www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com, and his biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.