Do You Have Cars In Your Trees?

2015-12-07

This isn’t an edited photo. That’s really a car virtually encased in trees. After my wife’s brother-in-law purchased some land in North Dakota he discovered this car and “tree cage” was part of the deal. If you were to walk around the car, you would see that it is trapped on all four sides by trees. This wasn’t staged or planned. It is a result of neglect.

At some point in the past, the car was parked on that spot…and then left alone. So were the tree saplings that, at the time, were no more than big weeds. Judging by the size of those once-upon-a-time-saplings, this occurred 20 or 30 years ago. Today, retrieving the car would require cutting down the trees. Unfortunately, the car probably isn’t worth the effort.

At one time, the car may indeed have been an asset worth maintaining. At that time, it would have taken little effort to move the vehicle to a location for repair. If the car had been moved, some beautiful trees might have grown there. Both were assets that could have been protected and developed with minimal effort. Today, their value is merely the intrigue of this picture.

Do you have cars in your trees?

Do you have an asset that might be in disrepair? One that might need a little bit of effort and time and investment? One that if repaired could be a tremendous gem? One that if, conversely, left alone would become a bigger headache as other problems grow and become intertwined with that asset?

What are your cars?

As I think through the various organizations I interface with regularly, assets that come to mind that might be described as “a car in the trees” include:

  • A forgotten or poorly-implemented growth strategy
  • A languishing succession plan
  • A once-popular product or service that needs refreshing and updating to bring new value
  • A personnel development program that hasn’t been fully leveraged or embraced

I’m sure you can think of various “cars” in your organization, too.

The car, though, that is most important for all of us is relationships.

Everyone of us has at least one relationship that is in disrepair. For whatever reason, the relationship today isn’t as effective as it once was, or as much as it could be. You and the other person aren’t able to fully trust, share, and/or communicate. As time passes, the trees continue to grow larger making it more difficult to remember the potential that the car, that relationship, once had. The trees become gnarly and thick. Cutting them down becomes a major effort requiring experts and special tools.

There are three approaches to consider:

  1. Do nothing. (We know where that leads. Read on.)
  2. Leave the car in place and get rid of the trees. This prevents further damage to the car, but it doesn’t do anything to fix the car.
  3. Move the car. Take it somewhere for repair.

The third alternative requires cutting down the trees, but I’m sure you agree that relationships are more valuable than the trees, the problems, that have damaged them.

The solution is to cut down the trees and move the car.

Whether your “car” is a program, product, strategy, or relationship, I encourage you to take bold steps to cut down those trees, move the car, and focus on getting it repaired.

Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.

Credits

Photo by Becky Thibert. Used with permission.

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