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Senior Correspondent

I come from a long line of great vegetable gardeners. Gardening contests have always been a source of friendly competition in the Gladden family for as long as I can remember. Although I am not a particularly gifted gardener, I sure love the process and the bounty. My dad loved to garden just about as much as anyone I have ever known. He couldn't wait for the seed catalogues to arrive in January. In the dead of winter, he would hatch his plan. Visualizing and planning his spring garden got him through many long dark and cold winters. He loved to sit by the fire and share his garden plans for the new season with his kids and grandkids. We would catch his vision and get just as jazzed.

He loved gardening so much that eventually he and my mom started a little family business called Gladden Garden Center. Our motto … "Great Gardens Begin at Gladdens."

As grown-ups, we worked with Dad and Mom in the Garden Center every chance we got. During high season, everybody had a job or two, including the grandkids. Dad played lots of roles, but I think the one he most enjoyed was when customers would come to him for advice about planting and cultivating their gardens. While he was always full of tips and such, he allowed that he was not an expert by any means, that he was always learning something new. He thrived on the hustle and bustle of the Garden Center while tilling, planting and tending to his own garden in whatever free time he could find.

This is the time of year I miss him the most. I am reminded of how much I learned from him along the way about another kind of gardening. And, I am not the only one. Since Dad's passing many young people have spoken to us about the positive impact Dad had on them when they worked at the Garden Center, and how their life has been the better for it.

I have observed many similarities between growing vegetables and developing employees. There is one main difference, however. Plants generally come with a set of directions about planting, feeding and watering. Employees do not.

If employees did come with such a set of directions, what might they include? I was attracted to a book by Erika Andersen, entitled "Growing Great Employees." Andersen systematically compares growing employees to growing vegetables and flowers. Her first chapter is entitled "Preparing the Soil: Or, There's No Such Thing as a One-Minute Gardener." Right off the bat, she playfully takes a swipe at a popular management book entitled "The One Minute Manager." I knew I was going to like this lady.

At the Quality Coach!®, we believe that it is nearly impossible for companies to reach their full potential, unless their employees are systematically reaching their potential. What is your organization doing to create the optimum conditions to allow employees to grow? 

Whether your organization provides a systematic way to tap into your talents and grow your professional skills or not, your growth is ultimately your choice and your responsibility. Often growth opportunities come disguised as big old piles of doodah that place us in extremely uncomfortable situations. If you happen to be facing such a situation now, how might you use it to fertilize your own growth and development?

No matter what was happening in the moment, Dad was really good at expecting the best from his kids, grandkids and employees, and he generally got exactly what he expected. He was great at visualizing the harvest before planting a single seed.

Who, in your life, could benefit from a dose of can-do expectations? Why not consider giving them that little jolt of "miracle grow" and then watching what happens? I'm confident that it can't do any harm and will probably do lots of good for them … and for you.

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