Gary the Gardener

July 6, 2022 by in Leadership Blog

A year ago we were able to get our garden done. Neither Emily nor I are keen gardeners and to be really honest, to me, mowing the lawn often feels like way too much of an effort. In the old garden we had what I’m sure gardeners would call beautiful opportunities, with some well-made flower beds behind some lovely railway sleepers. The rest of the garden was an uneven rectangle of grass, a dangerous concrete path and a horrible attempt at making a 2×2 metre “platform of concrete” look nice, with some rough fake grass on top of it. It’s fair to say it was a lot of effort to keep “nice” and a risk to anyone who may be unsteady on their feet; tiny humans learning to walk and older folk (our grandparents) whose balance may be deteriorating. So, with some help, our garden was transformed into a much safer and low maintenance garden.

My plan when the work was done was to stay on top of it, make sure that it always looked nice and well kept. The aim was to have a lawn that the groundskeeper at Wembley would be proud of. Yet, by the end of the summer, I was already fed up of the maintenance. The grass was getting long and I was fed up of looking after it. Fast forward 6 months and we hit the spring. The garden was ok but definitely wasn’t the dream and there were many reasons I could give for it: a busy work life, parent of a young, needy child, a wife who deserves my attention once Harry is in bed, and much more. But in reality, I just couldn’t be bothered and it really wasn’t something I saw as being a priority in my life.

Cue a conversation that Emily had with her Grandad Mike, or as he is known in this context – Gary the Gardener. Mike loves gardening, he has an annual plan that will give you the perfect lawn, in which there is 1 month that you can “let it be”. He gave us the plan and I laughed with Emily when we considered if we would do it. A conversation between Mike and myself a week later brought about his offer to maintain our lawn for us. 2 months since the TLC started and our grass is green, the patch in the corner of the garden that looked a little bare now looks as good as the rest and Mike has himself a successful little project.

This experience has emphasised something to me that isn’t new but is definitely a great reminder. If you want to see something really flourish, find someone who knows what they’re doing and ask for help. If they then have the capacity, ask them if they would do it for you. When I think about the “way that I am”, I will put so much energy into things I am passionate about because I want it to be as good as possible. Sometimes, me putting that much time into it myself is actually detrimental – maybe you have found this too? What’s the solution?

I am learning, continually, that there are times where I am the best person for the job – I care about it, it fits my skillset and I have the capacity to invest into it. There are also times where there are people better equipped, who genuinely care about it more than I do and have the capacity to do it – I have to step aside and let them run with it.

We as leaders probably all find ourselves in that position where we think “ah I’ll just do it” and in reality it could have been done better by someone else, or potentially worse than that, we rob someone else of the opportunity to find where they fit really well and are effective.

You may find yourself carrying some things right now that others are desperate to pick up from you if you’re willing to pass these on. A person who may feel they are stepping on your toes by offering to help but can genuinely see a better way, a more effective way or simply a more efficient way of doing that thing that if you are willing to release, will see you released to do your thing better.

Whilst it would be great to have the perfect person for every job, I am very aware that it’s not always the case. So to finish, if you don’t have the perfect person for a job and you find yourself carrying it for now, please can I encourage you: keep serving faithfully, find someone who can give you the advice (Gary the Gardener) and ask God to help you identify the right person.


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