Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Growing Products, literally

Probably the most over-used analogy is to compare almost anything which requires work - businesses, products, even relationships - to a garden (or even a single plant). You know... water it, give it sun, pull the weeds around it, rid it of pests... and one day you'll reap the rewards of the fruit. It's a good analogy usually. But the other day, I got a view of the most beautiful flowers, close up, in my kitchen, which made me think that the analogy goes deeper than the obvious.

There were about 70 peonies, cut from the garden, practically exploding in color on my kitchen counter, and I was totally frozen by their beauty (I know, too much feminine side.. deal with it). First of all, I immediately realized "that's why she does it", thinking, of course, of the hours of time and energy my wife spends planning, ordering, planting and caring for these (and hunderds of other) plants. The basic part of the analogy, about how hard work and proper caring can really bring rewards, was truly proven here... but then it occurred to me, that there is also a time limit to the reward. In this case, the appreciation of these incredible blooms could only last for a few days at most. In fact, in time, no matter what we did, the beautiful flowers would turn into crumbly, dead vegitation, rotting away in stinky swamp water vases (yuck). I quickly grabbed my camera in an effort to prolong the time I had to appreciate the flowers in their current colorful state.

So that whole analogy, including the time element, applies nicely to human relationships.... they take work to bring continuous reward and in time, no matter what we do, relationships fade and die... whether (but hopefully not) due to lack of proper caring, or just the natural aging of life into death. (that's the deep part...sorry... no more of that..)

The analogy also applies really well to Products (ah.. again.. my point... at the very end of a long post... I have to stop that). Some products take tons of work for a very brief, but powerful (or mild) reward... like a great event... a family reunion or wedding, for example... which takes lots of work, but brings great joy only for a very brief period of time. Other products also take lots of work but continue to flourish and live and bring reward for many, many years. Developing pharmaceuticals, for example, have the potential to bring great reward for as long as we can see. The Polio vaccine is an instance of that. Imagine the work involved - but the reward is continuous.

...and the key thing that I learned by looking at those flowers the other day, is to appreciate the reward as fully as possible while you have it - particularly since you know the reward won't last.

"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may, old Time is still a-flying: And this same flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying."
by Herrick, Robert
Quote Provided By Quotations Book


quote blog said...

I think for products, the best part is the satisfaction after working really hard, and knowing that the reward will just be a bonus. I think such minute rewards help to balance, and prevent complacency.

The benefits of forethought and patience have proven right time and time again (for example Warren Buffett in investment or Mother Teresa in charitable work). It's better to have lived through work/struggle than through glory, such is the fruit of a good life.

The nicest part of all is comparing this to the delicate differences between a good product/service and great relationships, and going through the epic journey that fulfils both ambitions, but without hurry. There are some things that will always last, like the sea, or dawn in the forest. I'm reminded of Walt Whitman, who slept under a tree, lapped clear water from a mountain stream under the wispy blue, and declared how beautiful the universe is with true delight! Such appreciation would last beyond time.


Anonymous said...

"Appreciate the reward as fully as possible while you have it - particularly since you know the reward won't last."

Great. No more words to say :)