Legacy – my shade tree

There’s a rule in San Francisco that when a new building goes up it must pay for a certain square footage of park space next to it.

And as more and more buildings go up around my home these days, I’ve come to realize there are 2 kinds of growth:

  • Brick by brick – mechanical, from the outside in
  • And as a tree- organic, from the inside out, with more complexity

A lot of times I feel I’m building my company the way a pile of bricks grows – one project at a time, solely profit oriented with the goal to be the king of my fiefdom.

Why? Because my company is a toddler and it’s still in survival mode – bootstrapping my way to generate enough business to start hiring a team around me.

But my purpose goes much deeper than profit. I realized long ago that I could flip the hierarchy of goals…that money can be the beginning and not the end goal.

That I can use money, to hire the right people in the right seats, who deliver the product or service that creates the impact and change I desire to see in the world.

Cash/Profit -> People -> Product/Service -> Delivery -> Impact

I’ve come to realize that although buildings are taller and look much sturdier than trees, they will at some point waste away – they will crumble and collapse through old age or be demolished.

But a tree will sprout roots and continue to burrow deeper and wider. A 350-foot-tall Redwood tree has a root system only five or six feet deep, but extending up to 100 feet away from the trunk.

A tree will bear fruit and from that fruit produce new seed that will scatter and take root and grow more trees. So it is with Redwoods that thrive in groves, where the roots intertwine and fuse together giving them tremendous strength against the forces of nature.

Dr. Kalu Ndukwe Kalu said – “The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.”

Why am I working 70-hour weeks to grow my company?

Am I doing it for me or am I doing it for others?

What will I leave behind? Is it just a pile of bricks or a living, growing, movement that will change the world?

Elton Trueblood said, ” We have made at least a start in discovering the meaning in human life when we plant shade trees under which we know full well we will never sit.”

Here’s to creating many shade trees…

Today, we’ve barely scratched the surface

Whatever stage you’re at in business, you need to be all over the numbers. In posts like this, we aim to offer bite-size food for thought – but in a few hundred words, we can only do so much.

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