That Tree Won’t Dig Itself

That Tree Won’t Dig Itself

I have mentioned in a previous blog that most of my adult working life was spent growing trees. Large trees, small trees, shade trees, as well as ornamental trees and shrubs; I grew hundreds of varieties of them. There are literally thousands of varieties of them (just look at any on-line catalog for a wholesale nursery), grown in sizes that range from less than a small twig to trees that take huge cranes to move. Frankly, moving trees is an industry unto itself. So you plant your trees and grow them from three to as many as 20 years before you sell them (typically about seven years). You plant more every year using your “crystal ball” to guess what will sell and plant your farm accordingly. 

As you can guess, there are lots of discussions about what will sell, what wont, what the economy will be and what it will lack, what designers will use and what they won’t. And yes, as in fashion, styles and desires for trees change. (Just ask the growers of the poor “Bradford Pear”). This all happens before the angst of selecting the buyer’s tree ranging in value from $45 to $25,000. Imagine the stress there; you haven’t even met the buyer’s client and you’re picking his trees. Then of course you have to dig the tree; it won’t dig itself, load it on the appropriate transport, and deliver it to your client. Each step along the way is filled with options, concerns, and decisions. Each is an opportunity to re-analyze what is happening. It makes me weary just thinking about it.

After a lifetime of growing trees, one of the things that I learned is that you can worry yourself into analysis paralysis. People easily take simple situations and over-complicate them. Tell me you haven’t done that at some time in your life. You do it out of tension, worry, or arrogance, or all combined. You figure that because something feels difficult, it must be that you lack the proper knowledge to do it, not that it’s psychologically difficult. Let me tell you, selecting $250,000 worth of young trees to cultivate and groom for seven years can be nerve wracking. It is like placing a bet and not knowing for seven years if you won. It is easy to over intellectualize the whole thing if you aren’t careful.

Sometimes minds and brains are distracting

and divert us from our goals

rather than helping us

achieve them.

But how do you rationally explain to someone that their over-intellectualization only results in avoiding their anxieties and/or emotional problems? They work to avoid their real problems. How do you get them to understand that when they perceive everything through an intellectual lens it can be erroneous? How do you demonstrate to them that past a certain point, their preparation and examining and organizing has been a means to avoid their ambitions instead of a means to realize their goals? How do you determine that delicate line of just enough preparation and planning way too much? How consistently can you find that line yourself? Sometimes minds and brains are distracting and divert us from our goals rather than helping us achieve them.

In my experience, you find the delicate line concerning analysis and over-analysis when you reach the point when more planning actually makes action less likely rather than more. But a certain internal awareness is required to recognize this.

Intellectualizing situations often distracts us from the difficult truths: that someone crapped out on you because they simply don’t care enough about your concerns to make time for them; that there’s no guarantee that your new tree will sell; that no matter what you say to someone when you visit their office, there’s always the chance they will send you packing; that they won’t like that new variety you spent years developing; that no matter how much you plan every minute of your precious time off, you won’t enjoy all of it; that losing your wife/husband will be excruciating no matter how it happens.

You find the delicate line concerning analysis

 and over-analysis when you reach

 the point when more planning

 actually makes action less

 likely rather than more.

Analysis paralysis allows us to avoid a difficult situation while feeling like we’re accomplishing something by analyzing it. Our minds lead us into an illusion of progress and effort without actual real progress or effort.

The best answer to most problems is usually the simplest one. They’re really not playing head games by not answering your quotation; they just don’t want to buy from you. The only way you can know if your tree will become a hit in the market is by trying it out on other growers. The only way to get that tree out of the ground is to dig it. You won’t know if someone will like your tree or not until you send it out. You won’t know if you like your holiday until you go on it. There’s no easy way to recover from the loss of a spouse, but just living through it.

Stop thinking and act. Sometimes, you just have to dig the tree. It won’t dig itself.


Frank Hopkins is a life coach in Baton Rouge who is certified as a Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). Frank has helped numerous people to go through emotional change in a way that is positively transformative.