It’s been ten years since I purchased and starting the practice of Bonsai. This art is the effort to transform any tree into a small version of itself. The origin of Bonsai goes back thousands of years when the emperor of China wanted a smaller version of his kingdom in which he may look upon.

For me it was a way to bring some of nature into the home. The practice has taught me persistence, patience, and consistency, but taught me the one of largest lessons of my study of this art and leadership.

Simply this has been a busy year for me with job changes, challenges, and some health issues. I simply drifted away from my bonsai. Not in large chunks of time, but would forget to water for several days, not rotate them, trim them, and just took advantage of the fact that they are trees who are strong and resilient, so I pushed the capabilities of these gifts until they started dying.

The most heartbreaking was the loss of my first bonsai ever. A fifteen year Chinese Elm, which was bad enough, but also lost my Silver Maple, Juniper, and Cherry Blossom.

The deaths did not take place quickly, but slowly while I thought they could hang in there a couple of more days without care.

This is similar to the impoverished leader. One to takes for granted the associates who are always there, do their work, can be relied upon. I think we like to call them our “go to people”. But sometimes we forget to take care of them: compliment them, express appreciation, reward them.

Not all at once, but over time our best efforts slip away, until the day they leave or no longer remain that high performer or sometimes sink into poor performance.

So for this entry, think about those who you really rely on. This could be a spouse, child, friend, employee, co-worker, service provider; even your pet. During this time of gift giving and expression of appreciation and love, don’t forget those who have been there for you and provide to you the best they have and make your life better by being there; just like my bonsai. Show, as well as tell them what they mean to you and watch them sprout and bloom for you to witness them become greater and you to be there see them grow.

-Rick Baron