What Forestry Can Teach You About Success in Business

“A candle loses nothing from lighting another candle.” - James Keller

That quote reminds me of my eccentric Dominican entrepreneur friend named Samuel and a story he has from when he was learning English.

He and I were doing economic development work in the Dominican Republic when he once told me this beautiful story about when he first heard the word ‘grove’. (As in, “The secret to success can be found in that grove of trees.")

Apparently, there isn’t a direct and specific translation in Spanish. It took some explaining for him to conceptualize what the word meant. And in this explaining lies the best bit.

You see, a grove is more of a technical or content-specific word in English; so in order for him to understand it, someone really had to explain its meaning. As he has come to understand it and re-illustrated to me, a grove is far more than "a planting of trees."

In a grove, with time, a trees' roots get so intertwined and interconnected with others that it becomes indistinguishable where one set of roots starts and another ends. Over time, this root network creates a shared foundation and gestalt which is so strong that it's nearly impossible for one tree to fall. The solid foundational strength of the group raises the bar and foundational strength of each individual tree.

We found this to be a powerful metaphor for business (and community). It fits with the essence of our philosophy and our general approach to our work. 

At some level we all desire to cultivate this strong grove in our work and lives—seeking the prosperity of the larger community, one business at a time, and in turn creating a shared value and raising the standard for the entire industry. To operate in a world where when one of us wins, we all win. A space where the game is not zero sum.

Benjamin Zander, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra knows what we're talking about. He's realized that "the conductor of an orchestra doesn't make a sound. [His power depends] on his ability to make other people powerful."*
What can you do this week to cultivate your network into an unstoppable "grove?” To give gifts and fortify your foundational network to where it's almost impossible for you to fail?


*Quoted from EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey