Today is Arbor Day, in the United States, a day dedicated to planting trees. Coming on the heels of Earth Day and the new moon in Taurus, it’s yet another example of how nature tells us where to direct our attention.
The message is clear: Earth. Grounding. Going within. Roots.
As a culture, we typically focus on what we can see.
The shiny apples on the apple tree.
Our ability or capability, and our potential. Actions and behaviors. Results and rewards.
In most companies, trainings focus on tangible skills and actions. Sales calls. Writing copy. Filming video. Producing content. Negotiating deals.
We are obsessed with productivity, in the sense of what are we producing?
Are these things important? Of course.
But there’s something more important that we ignore:
What’s underneath the soil?
Root to Rise
A tree grows down into the ground before it grows up.
Whatever kind of tree you’re planting, it won’t bear fruit without strong roots. Strong and deep roots create resilience. A tree with strong roots doesn’t blow over in a windstorm. In fact, wind strengthens trees — but only if their roots run deep.
This isn’t only about literal trees, of course. Some places to look at your roots:
Many problems that arise in the human body can be traced to the feet or the pelvis — our source of stability.
How often do you even think about your feet? I’ve spent the past year training my feet, doing all workouts barefoot, strengthening and stretching my toes — the stuff that doesn’t really make the cover of magazines.
In the same vein, any technical or “outer” skill relies on an inner, or root skill. If you want to improve your writing, speaking or sales skills, or any other form of expression, improve your listening skills.
Look around: trainings abound for how to express yourself. When was the last time you took a course on how to listen or hold space?
We can extend this also to the fabric of our communities. This moment of uprooting has exposed the roots of our society and allowed us to see more clearly the people who work below the surface, providing the essential nutrients that make our results possible: health care workers, food delivery drivers, first responders, postal workers, grocery store clerks, among others.
In every corner of life, we can ask this one essential question:
How are we nourishing our roots?
As Above, So Below
What we see above the surface is a mirror of what is happening below the surface.
Working on the roots is not flashy. But it’s necessary if we want to move through life with ease and grace.
Stability is a prerequisite to ability. No part of nature — and that includes us, individually and collectively — can maximize its potential without strong roots and proper grounding.
Whatever trees we are planting, literal or metaphorical, we must pay attention to nourishing the roots if we want to enjoy the fruits of our labor.