Happy Little Ferns
Lately, my nephew, Maddox, has been working on his art skills.
With the confidence of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel, he will take his trusty crayons or markers, grab some scratch paper, and begin wildly scribbling until the page is full. While the want is there, the masterpieces seem to elude him sometimes. It is at these moments he will become frustrated, crumple his paper, and throw the would-be prized piece in the garbage.
I told Maddox he should check out some Bob Ross videos.
When it comes to art, Bob seems to have it all figured out. His version of painting is not just frantically adding color to a canvas but, more so, conceptualizing his desired landscape, and then painting it. And he does not let a mistake stop him.
In fact, it was Bob Ross who said, “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”
Are you scratching your head yet? Wondering why the Wedgworth Wire is reflecting on Bob Ross and his happy, little trees?
If so, the answer is vision. Bob Ross succeeded in creating great works of art by having a vision before putting paint to canvas. Then he executed. And when something went awry? Rather than dwell on failure, he chose to pivot.
And this brings us to David Register and his happy, little ferns at FernTrust.
Our tour started at the FernTrust office in Seville, FL, which, for those who do not know, is the “Fern Capitol of the World.” I could overwhelm you with the intricacies and details revolving around the production, harvest and processing of these ornamental ferns but this could evolve into an even lengthier article.
Our group was given an interesting recount of the evolution of the family fern business, with details ranging from natural disasters, diversification, industry consolidation, and even the rise of the internet!
Truth be told, I am quite the sucker for a great origin story when it comes to the history of old, Florida farm operations. Mr. Register’s story did not disappoint in that regard. Although the family operation had begun as a predominantly citrus-producing business, a bad freeze disagreed with the long-term viability of their citrus groves. When faced with this obstacle, they needed an alternative.
Cue the pivot.
That is when the family turned to fern production for the floral industry. The reinforcing of this niche fern market was further solidified years later after hurricanes dealt a blow to local producers, driving some to exit the market. Mr. Register claimed it was at this point the remaining, larger-scale producers decided to form the FernTrust. Together, the cooperative allowed for the streamlining of the fern industry and for a small collective of like-minded growers to drive the market with a shared vision.
There is that term, again – vision.
Mr. Register spent a fair amount of time discussing his vision of the fern business with us. He expounded upon trends and fads that impacted the domestic and global floral industry. It was clear he had spent a fair amount of time considering the future to stay one step ahead of the curve. Essentially, he helps steer the entire direction of the ornamental fern industry. His organization has refined and improved the production and processing of fern crops, has continually strived to optimize yields and minimize shrink, and has even transitioned into new, value-added offerings for florists.
While our visit allowed us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the “fernacular” of this specialty market, there were much broader messages to be extracted from our day at FernTrust.
Again, I reiterate concept of vision.
As our personal and professional lives continue to feel the repercussions of Covid-19, we remain in a strange state of flux. Our daily lives have been utterly shocked and, while this could seem intimidating to many…what if we were to capitalize on this as a chance to reimagine the landscape of our lives and businesses?
Mr. Register certainly provided a continuous supply of anecdotes and pieces of wisdom throughout our time together. However, on the concept of challenging the current status quo, I will leave you with one comment that stood out to me.
“You were chosen as the new class of leaders. You are the group that will shape the future. How do you want it to look?”
I would extend that same sentiment to, not only our class, but to our entire alumni group. Amidst all the current turmoil and change, what does that future look like to you?
If you find yourself struggling to answer that question, I would point out a concept from The Truth About Leadership by James M. Kouzes and Barry S. Posner.
“It is your job as a leader to lift people’s sights and lift people’s spirits. You must remind others…that there is a larger purpose to all this doing. You and they are working hard in order to build something different, to make something new, to create a better future” (Kouzes, Posner).
While most, if not all, of us are guilty of trying to survive one day at a time right now, we can not neglect this opportunity to reevaluate our vision and reimagine the futures of our lives and organizations. If you are not already doing so, I would strongly encourage you to spend a little time in the future. Set aside a few minutes to consider your long-term plan.
Is everything on track? Or could this be the time for a pivot?
Once you answer those questions, I would also suggest proactively communicating that vision with your families, associates, employees, and any other stakeholder. Keep them in the loop so they understand the shared goal toward which you are all working.
We may have no crystal ball but proper planning and forward-thinking will, at least, lay the groundwork for the direction in which we ought to be heading. And, with the right vision, hopefully we can avoid any major mistakes along the way and just run into happy, little accidents here and there.