The Coaching Gardener: Diversity, relationships and builders

December 22, 2015

I sign up to the idea that for a relationship to work you have to invest before you expect anything in return. It’s an approach I use when working with builders who, I confess, scare me a bit. They talk ‘three be two’s’, ‘RSJ’s’ and ‘DPC levels’. I talk about harmony and flow. It’s a weird mix.

Take my recent job:

Day 1. Me, the Merry Gardener, meets the less than merry band of Lithuanian builders who are going to build my design.  There’s no common language between us. Roaring start! At this stage of the game I need them more than they need me, so it makes sense to make the first move.

First stop: organise regular rounds of coffee.

Next: show appreciation of their work. My universal thumbs up at their dry stone walling melts a few frozen faces.

And then: I get dirty. Welly-deep in cold earth, the builders on one side of their rising wall, me on the muddy plains of an emerging garden, I commit to hard graft.

Day 2. Unnervingly, little more than half-nods and muttered greetings pass between us.

Day 3. Something magical happens. 500 plants arrive on the back of a lorry and it’s my job to off-load them. I grab at a huge plant and suddenly there are two more hands beside mine. I turn around. The opposition have scaled their wall to help me!

I’ve paid in, now we can trade. It’s my version of the game of the festive football in the Somme.

Could this principle resolve our world differences right now?  Perhaps not!  But as it’s Christmas please allow me a healthy dose of seasonal sentiment. Make the first move, show respect and pay something in; maybe to an estranged neighbour, an absent family member or a difficult boss.  Who knows, you may just create something unexpected in 2016.

Andrew Morris



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