Strawberry picking is a fun day out for all ages. This outdoor activity has it all, sweet fresh berries, a walking exercise and a family fun activity of picking various fruits from their plants.
In this innocent activity, one can also “pick” many lessons for individuals and organisations. As I walked through the various fruit lines, I started to pick many of these lessons and came across the following four valuable lessons:
Lesson 1: Sweet fruits are on branches that hang down
Branches full of fruit are the ones that hang down with the weight of their fruits. This is also true in real life. Individuals that are humble and flexible are the ones that attract people and affection like that branch full of fruits.
Individuals and leaders that are arrogant and inflexible tend to find themselves like those branches pointing in the air with no fruit – nobody likes them or entertains them. Its not the branch that matters but the fruit on it – In real life we forget this.
It’s not the person but the personality and personal conduct matters.
It’s not the person but the personality and personal conduct matters – both define qualities the person and make it so that people benefit.
Lesson 2: Size, colour, and design does not matter
Many strawberry farms, also grow many other berries as well. From strawberries to raspberries and blueberries. Each berry is different in size, colour, plant, and taste. When ripe and juicy each of them energises the taste buds and gives immense pleasure.
The key word here is “ripe” and “ready to eat”.
In real life we focus too much on size, colour, ethnicity, and political affiliations, like the farm the world is full of variety – what should matter is maximising the ability and impact of individuals and organisations.
When ready the fruit will taste the best on their own plant – it’s wrong to expect the blueberry to grow and taste good on a strawberry plant or vice versa.
Like plants, individuals are at their best in their own environment and identity – this should be respected, celebrated, and protected for them to “ripe” and excel.
Like plants, individuals are at their best in their own environment and identity – this should be respected, celebrated, and protected for them to “ripe” and excel in all walks of life and organisations. Where this is ignored, it’s the organisations and leaders that lose out from the potential talent and resource those individuals could have offered.
Lesson 3: It’s the picking that dictates the quality of the basket
The fun in strawberry picking comes with holding the basket and picking the fruit into it. The thousands of plants have thousands of fruits hanging on them at different stages of their life, some ripe and some not as ready. They hang in groups and on different branches. Depending on their position on the plant and branch – they can taste different, sweet, or bitter.
It is how and when they are picked determines, the quality of the fruit in the basket. A farm full of fruit that looks unripe may still generate a basket with ripe and colourful tasting fruit. This requires effort and time for the picker to dig deep in finding the ripe fruit.
Organisations that have good quality staff have impeccable recruitment practices – they reach out and plan carefully to find and retain the right talent. These organisations then stand out and achieve their objectives – It is then the basket of fruit gives the right pleasure and visuals.
Those that go on a “picking” spree influenced by numbers and digits (nothing more) tend to end up with the wrong mix of fruits in their basket.
Those that go on a “picking” spree influenced by numbers and digits (nothing more) tend to end up with the wrong mix of fruits in their basket. The basket will eventually cost them at the counter and the fruit will be of no use, leaving a bitter taste. I see this often in organisations, especially charities.
Lesson 4: Season and gardening make the difference
As we are walking out of the farm, we came across some berries out of season – their plants were fruitless and resembled wild bushes with no use.
We were so wrong.
Given the right season, care and effort the farmers will put into them, they are to taste better than the sweet berries in season we were tasting today.
In real life, the same mistake is made with individuals and organisations. We are trigger happy to right them off not realising that we may be meeting them in the wrong season or all they require is care and effort to blossom.
Instead of waiting for the right season or investing in care and training, we judge them and leave them with wrong labels. Hence losing out from the ability and impact they could have shown.
Like sweets berries, individuals and organisations require the right environment, care, training, mentoring and guidance to grow and bear fruits for many to enjoy.
Author: Nasir Rafiq is a widely experienced Fellow Chartered Accountant (ICAEW) and a Charity Financial Governance Expert.
He is the Managing Partner of Dua Governance, a Charity Governance specialist accountancy firm.
Nasir has held many senior finance positions within the UK charity sector and continues to advise many charities on governance and leadership matters.