Prune AggressivelyPrune aggressively – to get a fruit tree to grow differently and in the long run produce more fruit you need to prune it aggressively. You have to cut off high producing limbs in order to allow for a higher quality fruit in the next year. I have a friend who is an arborist and watching her prune my peach and nectarine trees is almost painful but, year after year she tells me it hurts now but it will pay off in the long run and she is so right.

This year I faced the same pruning in my own business and many of my clients continue to face the same need to get clear about their goals, what needs to change to meet those goals and then prune what is not going to reach those goals. Almost a year ago, I realized that while I have had a successful consulting business, blessed by many wonderful clients, I was at a crossroads.

I personally desired more creativity, even greater collaboration with clients, and a deeper exploration of true service. I wanted to work with people who truly cared about their businesses, their communities, and making a difference, but were stuck in the grips of over-abundance. And true to the nature of the Universe, in answer to this desire I was given the opportunity to face my own businesses mortality. I reached the point of over commitment and had to reevaluate my client portfolio and commitments.

It was a painful hit to my ego but, so necessary and upon reflection so beautiful. I can say that even with the passing of time, I can still feel the sensation of wet tears of humility on my cheeks. I can still feel the imprint of the grip of fear around my larynx and my heart. And at the same time, I see it’s blessing.

That experience reminded me of the need to prune aggressively in our businesses in order to allow for the full richness of our services to ripen fully with our clients. Without the pruning, we produce a lower quality and stressed out service or product. Moreover, our market becomes too broad and diversified and our message becomes muddy. Come back for Part 2 on pruning for business success.