I first noticed the tree in the heat of a summer day. The expansive branches provided welcoming shade as I moved from meeting to meeting. There was a bench next to the tree, and on any given day, couples, friends and others would be sitting on the bench enjoying the shade. 

As seasons change, so does the tree. It changed from a lush green to a golden hue. The tree no longer needed to provide shade for the cooling fall days; now, it provided beauty. As I paused and looked at the tree, I thought it looked like the sun had reached down and gave it a kiss of pure gold.

One day, an older woman was sitting on the bench when I stopped and paused to look at the tree. She smiled at my expression of wonderment. It is so beautiful, like liquid gold, I pronounced. She smiled and said it was lovely. As the days went onward, I would see the older woman more and more. Leaves were now on the ground, gently falling. I mentioned to her that it was sad to see the tree changing. She smiled and nodded but said nothing further.

One day, after a storm, I noticed all the leaves were gone. The tree was barren. I stopped and stared up at the tree with a feeling of sadness. The older woman interrupted my thoughts. She was calling to me to look at something. She pointed to the tree and said, that is what I have been waiting to see.

Looking up again, I saw the nest that the squirrels had made. They were scampering along the tree branches, busy at work, preparing for winter. The older woman stood next to me and quietly said.

“It is easy to look at something and only see what you want to see. You saw the leaves. I saw the workers of the tree. They were far more interesting to me”.

As I walked to my meeting, I replayed her words in my mind, “It is easy to look at something and only see what you want to see. You saw the leaves. I saw the workers of the tree. They were far more interesting to me.” I was not curious beyond what was in front of me. I did not see the workers of the tree.

As I thought about the tree, it dawned on me that it was symbolic for leaders. The tree gave me the following:

  • Refrain from allowing yourself to see only what you want to see. Be curious and ask others for their insight, for their views. Keep curious until the complete picture is genuinely understood.
  • The workers of the tree are the most interesting. Employees are an organization’s greatest asset, yet many times are taken for granted. Sight unseen until they leave. Don’t let them go. Be engaged with employees. Be interested.
  • I saw the leaves and color, she saw the workers of the tree, and together, we saw the tree … it takes different viewpoints to discover what is true and what is real.

Today, as I walked under the tree, it swayed in the light wind as if to say, “Wait for what I will share with you next!”

 Martie L. Moore, MAOM, RN, CPHQ, is the President/CEO of M2WL Consulting. She has been an executive healthcare leader for more than 20 years. She has served on advisory boards for the National Pressure Injury Advisory Panel, American Nurses Association, Dean’s Advisory Board at the University of Central Florida College of Nursing and Sigma, International Honor Society for Nursing. She was honored by Saint Martin’s University with an honorary doctorate degree for her service and accomplishments in advancing healthcare.

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