Every now and then in my executive coaching or workshops I hear someone describe some really unpleasant, fear based management practices.
And some managers who take this kind of style and approach complain that people are too sensitive and should ‘toughen up’.
Now, as you may already know, I take a lot of learning from nature – which can be a pretty tough environment.
But what I know from growing trees is that they can survive in a harsh environment, but they are never going to fulfil their potential or thrive. And a tough tree is not necessarily a strong tree.
Usually the people who take this ‘toughen up’ approach have had some pretty hard knocks themselves. They’ve been hurt at some point and have learned how to protect themselves by developing a tough exterior.
But that doesn’t mean they are strong inside; actually in my experience it means the opposite.
A strong tree is not rigid – it has flexibility. With rigidity comes brittleness. Strength is supple.
A strong, nourished tree can support many other living things; a tough tree in a harsh environment can give much less.
So create a nourishing environment for yourself, and for those around you, and see the difference in how everyone can grow strong and fulfil their potential.