The Metaphor of the Rotten Tree

Imagine this – you’re driving home on a windy Sunday evening, ready to relax and end the night. But as you drive up, something’s not right. A power company worker jogs from his truck into your back yard, clearly in a hurry. Then you get to your drive way, and… what?!… a massive tree is lying on the power line. They have to get it off to avoid further damage, and once they do, there’s a lot of cleanup to get all the branches and logs out of there.

When something big topples over in one moment, we’re often stunned. The post-mortem quickly reveals the cause, and it seems so obvious after the fact. In the case of the tree, the outside looked great–it was still growing branches and had bright green leaves. Yet the most critical part of the tree was not healthy. Its core was rotten. When the wind storm came, it couldn’t hold up.

I’ve found that in any field, excellence is found by those who are willing to perfect their core disciplines. Excellent musicians know their scales, chords, and progressions. Excellent hockey players have their skating and puck control skills nailed. Excellent business owners know delegation, decision making, and communication. Consistent effort put in to maintaining your core skills will make you far more resilient to stresses and make day-to-day work a lot more enjoyable.

What core disciplines do you see practiced by excellent players in your field? How and when do you plan to practice them?