What do you have in your life that is preventing you from achieving your potential? What in your life RIGHT NOW is preventing positive growth?
Maybe it’s a job that is pushing against a glass ceiling? Or perhaps a marriage that has turned neglectful and abusive? How about a friendship that has become toxic? Maybe you need to reexamine your spending habits and cut costs somewhere? Whatever it is, you won’t be able to achieve your full potential because you’re investing your energy, time, and resources into these areas that are hurting you in the long run.
Perhaps it’s time to cut some things out. In chapter 2 of Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud compares this to the necessity of pruning for the gardener. When gardeners prune, they do so for three reasons-
1. There is too much growth.
Sometimes the gardener has to prune perfectly fine flowers. Maybe these blooms have achieved all they are capable of and will soon start to whither and die, depleting nutrients that could otherwise be used for the growing, thriving part of the bush. If these fully bloomed flowers continue with the bush, they will prevent the growth of the younger buds and blooms, causing them to be blocked out and suffocate.
♦ Implication #1 – Are you juggling too many things at once? Involved in too many relationships or clubs with no time left for yourself or the things you really want to do? Do you feel overwhelmed and disoriented. I used to be a social media fiend…totally addicted and consumed. When I was in the mental institution for a week I was cut off from all social media and electronics. What a freeing feeling – I could concentrate on ME and work my way back towards stability.
2. There is disease and decay.
There are parts of the bush that have to be trimmed because they are infected or rotting. In Connecticut, my dad fought a yearly invasion of gypsy moth caterpillars on our trees. The caterpillars would eat all the leaves then make their cocoons, which looked like large spiderweb tents. After he had killed all the caterpillars my dad would try to salvage what was living on the tree by cutting off the parts that had been killed. Though he tried and tried, sometimes the tree itself never recovered.
♦ Implication #2 – Do you have relationships in your life that are dying? Maybe they’ve become toxic? There’s no mutual communication. Or there’s yelling and hostility. Maybe there was infidelity or the trust has been broken. I remember one of the things that started me thinking on this subject in my marriage was the amount of negativity my wife brought home, particularly from work. I understood I was there as her support and I listened to her faithfully but the amount of angry talk and frustration with those at work and around her soon impacted me also – I became miserable without even being miserable in the first place! This is one of the indicators that I was moving towards a necessary ending. Certainly not the only factor, but it did have a tremendous impact on my overall day-to-day attitude.
3. Some parts are dead.
This is probably the first thing you think of the gardener removing from the bush in order to keep it alive. It is of utmost necessity to remove the parts of the bush that are dead and still hanging on. Whether they were killed by a fungus, insects, or poor lighting, nutrients are still traveling to them and will be siphoned away from the living parts of the bush, ultimately hurting its growth potential.
♦ Implication #3 – A friend of mine from some time back had an alcoholic husband who had beaten and broken her for the last few years of their marriage. He had not contributed to the growth of their relationship and constantly berated and insulted her, breaking her spirit until she had nothing left to give. Once she lost all hope and became hopeless, she realized it was time to prune. No matter how long their marriage had lasted, this was a part of her garden that had died over time and was preventing the flourishing of her and her children.
What area of your life needs to be pruned? Do you have too much growth or too little growth? What is holding you back from achieving your full potential?