Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Go Deeper

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Go Deeper

Article excerpt

The spring storms that recently hit central Oklahoma and uprooted trees in my neighborhood reminded me of a life principal I learned many years ago: To grow tall and strong you must grow deep.

I first learned this principle in a forestry class. Trees with shallow root systems (like a Bradford pear) get uprooted by strong winds during a storm. In contrast, trees with deep root systems (like an oak) withstand the storm. Bradford Pears grow quickly and look pretty, but they never put down deep roots. A spring storm in Oklahoma often makes short work of them. But oaks grow slowly and dig deep; they're built to weather the winds. After the storm in our neighborhood the oaks are still standing while the Bradford pears are becoming fuel for next winter's fireplace.

What's true for trees is true for men and women in business. If we want to go higher, we must first go deeper. While it's true there are some shallow souls who experience a meteoric rise to fame and fortune, they are like the Bradford pears. They flourish and look great for a while but when the storms come, they often fall. By contrast, those in business who go deep with their moral and ethical beliefs are like the oaks. Their rise may be slower but they withstand the storms and their roots are deep and solid. High standards Kenneth Lay, chairman and chief executive officer of the largest natural gas company in the United States, Houston-based Enron, said it this way: "In my own case, I grew up the son of a Baptist minister. From this background, I was fully exposed to not only legal behavior but moral and ethical behavior, and what that means from the standpoint of leading organizations and people. I was and am a strong believer that one of the most satisfying things in life is to create a highly moral and ethical environment in which every individual is allowed and encouraged to realize their God-given potential. There are few things more satisfying than to see individuals reach levels of performance that they would have thought was virtually impossible for themselves." Robert Marlott, retired chairman of FMC in Chicago, had this same perspective. He knew the higher he went, the deeper he needed to be. …

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