By Chuck Cusumano and Jillian Broaddus
As children, we are growing and learning at a rapid pace. In fact, our brains will increase in size by the time we reach adulthood by a factor of 5! Billions of connections will form between neurons from birth to early adulthood, but our bodies know that maintaining all of those synaptic connections between neurons would be very inefficient. All of those connections were used as we learned and developed. However, as we transition from late childhood to early adulthood, our brain sheds – or prunes – off all of the unused synaptic connections. Some studies say that as much as 50% of our neurons do not survive into adulthood because of this pruning process! Why would our bodies grow and then cut back all of this mammalian neurological development? More is better, when it comes to brain power – right? Well, actually less is more: our brains are designed to seek efficient synaptic configurations. The adage ‘use it or lose it’ would apply here. Therefore, what gets used gets stronger and what is no longer being used is discarded. Our bodies know what works best.
If you have ever had a rose bush or a fruit tree, you understand how ‘cutting back’ increases the health and yield of the blooms. All plants and trees benefit from regular proper pruning! Eliminating dead or diseased parts of the plant allows it to develop stronger and healthier ones. It also allows the plant to get more sunlight exposure to the trunk or core of the tree, as well as better airflow. Cutting back on the volume of a new tree or plant allows it to form a sturdier structure. It helps the plant focus its energy on the existing structure – same energy, less requirements. Therefore it can grow stronger. You can also prune to increase yield of your flowers, buds, or fruit.
So, if pruning in humans and many other organisms is considered good, healthy, and advantageous, why do we resist pruning in our lives, relationships, and businesses? One of the reasons we believe is our aversion to discomfort – or, for many, even perceived pain!
We are largely conditioned to resist pain and discomfort. We will go to absurd lengths to avoid any inconvenience or perception of discomfort. For example...
Just look at the boom in UberEats, DoorDash, and Grubhub delivery of food. Often, the delivery cost is 35% of the total bill or more!
Valet trash service at apartment complexes is now the big thing.
Cars going around and around in a parking lot just to avoid parking a little further away.
The entire alarm clock snooze system of waking up in the morning.
And why have a face-to-face conversation when it is easier and less painful to just send a text to breakup with someone or – better yet – just ghost them!
And let us not even start to list the amount of electric or automatic devices we have in our kitchens, workshops, office spaces, and our lives in general. If you lose electricity, almost all businesses would close for the day, most of us could not get up and just get out the door to work, and the entire way we do life would come to a screeching halt! (In fact, it was not until 1945 that 85% of American homes even had electricity, and not until 1960 that almost all homes could get power.) In a recent survey shared on bartend.com, one-third of Americans said they would drive rather than walk 5 minutes to get to a destination. Is walking 5 minutes now considered discomfort?
Pruning, as described above, is a process of cutting back. Of getting rid of dead, diseased, or unused parts. In the United States, 11% of all households rent a storage unit for stuff that they believe they need but do not have room for, or that they just can not endure the discomfort of getting rid of. (That is approximately 13.5 million households according to the SSA Self Storage Demand Study 2020.) The national average cost per square foot for all storage sizes per month is $89.12. That means over 13 million households pay in excess of $1,000 per year just to store stuff that they may or may not ever use. Have you ever watched the reality show Storage Wars? We would suggest a little pruning is in order...
Do less, Better!
At The Joshua Group Consulting, we are all about efficiency. We subscribe to effective use of tools and systems that will increase output, gain a higher return on investment, and allow us all to be more productive in our lives so we can enjoy all that the world has to offer. We are not saying you should live without electricity, not drive a car, not rent a storage unit, or even not have an Edlund 266 2-speed table top electric can opener from Amazon for $715 (well, maybe not that!). What we know to be true is that growth is not without discomfort. Sometimes even a little pain.
We subscribe to – do less, better! If you are trying to do too much and most of the systems and processes you are trying to do are not working well, then cut back – prune the systems and process so there is more time and energy to focus on the stuff that is working. Minimize what you do and then focus on doing it at its best. It is how you get bigger and better roses, sweeter and plumper peaches, and family lives that are richer and fuller! Cutting back what is not needed decreases drag on the operation or the human.
We did without many things during the last 2 years during COVID. Many of those things we need not bring back into our lives or businesses. It was painful, but we grew from it. How many more of us learned that we did not ‘need’ all of what we had? How many of us learned that some of the things we took for granted were much more important than we ever imagined?
So our recommendation is to embrace pruning! Make it part of your routine. Learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Because discomfort is many times the signal that tells us we are on the path to growth and renewal!
If you need help learning how to correctly prune your business or life reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will start you on the journey to becoming a Master Arborist!