Pruning Tactics

Posted: July 20, 2011 in articles


Chapter 2 of the book Necessary Endings by Dr Henry Cloud is titled ‘Pruning: Growth Depends on getting rid of the unwanted or the superfluous.’ I found this chapter both insightful and challenging.

Dr Cloud refers to the art of growing rose bushes. The Gardener who is skilled in growing healthy rose bushes intentionally and purposefully cuts off branches and buds that fall into the following 3 categories:

Healthy buds or branches that are not the best ones

Sick branches that are not going to get well, and

Dead branches that are taking up space needed for the healthy ones to thrive.

Dr Cloud refers to this metaphor as a means to encourage us to look at these 3 categories of necessary endings in our own professional lives. What really struck me from the metaphor was the fact that a rose bush has only enough resources available to it to bring a certain number of buds to bloom – not all of them! It simply cannot bring all of them to full bloom. In order for the bush to thrive, some of the buds have to go. Dr Cloud says: ‘the caretaker constantly examines the bush to see which buds are worthy of the plants limited fuel and support and cuts the others away… He ends their role in the life of the bush and puts an end to the bush’s having to divert resources to them… in doing so, the gardener frees those needed resources so the plant can redirect them to the buds with the greatest potential to become mature roses.’ (page 16)

We have resources which are both precious and limited. Are we treating them this way?

Where are we directing our resources?

If we had to examine them through the knowledge that our resources can only bring a limited number of ‘buds’ to bloom which areas would we put them into?

Which areas would we take our resources away from?

Dr Cloud goes onto say that without the necessary endings of these buds we simply don’t get the best rose bushes. If we are aiming at the maximum potential of what we are putting our hand to, we need to examine everything else that we are putting our hand to as well.

Personally I found a few areas that probably need to be cut away so I can direct my resources into the best ‘buds’. It is hard to do this but as Dr Cloud says… absolute necessary.


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