root n. the portion of a plant that serves as support and draws minerals and water from the soil.
The Root. A business starts out as one lonely root. It heads down into the dark recesses of the earth looking for water. It’s not sure where it’s heading, but it sure knows what it needs. It knows its purpose! Nothing else matters, and this singularity of purpose defines the root. There are no philosophical contradictions, no conflicting strategies: just find some water – it is better to be fit than to be right. It takes more courage than virtue.
Grow or die. Once it initially succeeds in its search, the root begins to grow. It won’t grow in just one direction – instinctively it knows better than that. It sprouts new roots in all directions. Some find water and repeat the process, others find nothing and atrophy sets in. Grow or die, succeed or perish. The root never rests, it never stops searching.
Adapt. The root is not stuck on one path, it does not resist change. It welcomes the opportunity to intertwine with other roots, knowing there is strength in this union. It is ready to adapt. It knows its job and it sticks to it. It is the search that gives the root meaning, not the success. It is the skills developed and used [to grow] that give it substance and character. Like the root, we are not here to collect and admire, we are here to build and grow. We measure the quality of our life by the effort given to our journey, not by our ephemeral success. It is the struggle that defines us.
We are always at risk. Our business knows its purpose, it’s been taught well. We have strong roots. We do not resist change, we welcome it. We must grow or die. It would be nice to say that we have arrived at the journey’s end, but that doesn’t happen to a root. A root goes on searching, the journey continues unabated. The challenges that can destroy us are right around the corner, lurking behind this veil of success. We must be ready, we must be prepared. Who knows when the next storm will hit? We must stay strong. It is not enough for the root to find water, it must have the ability to store enough water to survive the eventual drought. No root is so bold or so arrogant as to think that it will avoid drought. The key is to survive. Luck has nothing to do with it, preparation does. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. We have our water stored and we continue on.
Stand together. This business is a seed of opportunity. Properly cared for it will grow strong and prosper forever. It must be able to withstand the vagaries of life. It must be supple and pliable enough to change with the demands of a dynamic world, yet strong and firm enough to stand tall against all challenges. But, just like the mighty Redwoods of California, it cannot stand alone. The roots of the great Redwoods do not run deep and alone, rather, they spread out and intertwine with each other. They stand together. A storm doesn’t take on just one, it takes on a hundred, and the Redwoods have been standing tall for thousands of years.