The Benefits of Pruning in Business: Lessons Learned from Tree Trimming

May 12, 2023

Recently, a local tree trimming company came to trim up a few trees in our backyard.  One of the trees is my absolute favorite.  I look at it every time I pass our living room.  It is so beautiful and blesses me every Mother’s Day with clusters of dainty white flowers.  With this in mind, I was a little nervous when the tree trimmers (who did a fantastic job by the way) started up the chainsaw, and I saw limb after limb being fed to the shredder and turned into mulch.

When they were finished, I went out to talk with them.  They reminded me that the smaller limbs and branches needed to be removed if the tree was going to thrive and flourish.  

This made me reflect on a must-read book by Dr. Henry Cloud entitled “Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward”. If you’re not familiar with this concept or if you haven’t read this book – I highly recommend it. In the book, he likens the pruning of a rose bush (in his example) to the natural endings that need to happen in life and in business.  Pruning is the “cutting away of what is unwanted or superfluous, and thereby reducing its’ reach”.  Dr. Cloud says that it is crucial to cut out, let go of, and prune those areas of your business that are good - to make room for the best areas. Sound familiar?

What could my business do if I were to prune it?

What could your business do if you were to prune a client that is holding you back by wasting your energy, talent and time?

How much could you grow to your full potential if you were to let go of a division of your business that may be chugging along but isn’t letting you reach your full potential?

How productive could you be if you were to prune unnecessary paperwork from your workspace?

Don’t get me wrong, I know first-hand that pruning can be painful and sometimes even paralyzing.  Believe me – I’ve been there, and I still contemplate some areas to prune.  But when you get to the other side, it’s exciting!  Removing what is unwanted will allow your business to thrive and flourish into something even more beautiful. Pruning is not the only way to cut away what’s unwanted. Decluttering your workspace, shredding unwanted paperwork, setting up systems that serve you better and generally cleaning also count as pruning. Any task that purposefully lets go of the unwanted and unneeded prunes away allowing for creativity and growth. 

The thought of pruning in your business can bring up those same feelings of nervousness I had for pruning my favorite tree. Nervousness can also show up as: 

  • Nervousness shows up as trouble concentrating, restlessness, feeling tense and so on.
  • Procrastination can ultimately lead to missed deadlines.
  • Overwhelm affects us to the point where we lack productivity. 
  • Embarrassment in realizing that we’ve let our workspace “go” and has become difficult to manage.
  • Changes in breathing reflects a stressed nervous system.

Pruning in your business essentially causes change and change can bring up feelings like those noted above. But change in business is important, and while it can be uncomfortable, is essential and positive. It allows us to learn new skills, encourages innovation and allows us to set up new systems, discard what no longer serves us, stimulates creativity, leads to better business opportunities, and so on. 

When the tree trimmers cut away the limbs on my favorite tree, they were cutting what no longer served the greater good of the tree. Now, the tree is super productive and grows abundant and healthy flowers that last longer every year. In our business when we prune the areas that no longer serve the greater good of the business, we become productive and gain a clear direction. Our business can bloom just like my tree after it was pruned because we reach goals, our self-esteem skyrockets, we gain energy, clarity, and focus. 

Ready to prune?

A very important word to learn is “No”. The word “No” can be very scary but it is the best and most effective way to begin pruning. “No” is a boundary word that can be very uncomfortable. But saying “no” to new opportunities that come your way is the best way to prune before you even need to. 

In 1997, Apple Inc was struggling. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he said “no” and pruned their product offerings by 70 percent. By pruning down to four products, Apple was able to focus their energies and begin to grow into the company they are today.

Saying “no” in your business does not need to be as drastic but it will give the same focus and energy. But by setting this boundary, decluttering and saying no to alllllll of the paperwork, saying no to old systems that no longer serve you and taking even small action all counts as pruning. 

Is it time for you to prune in your business for growth? Follow me for more tips on decluttering and organizing in your business.

Virtual Office Advantage provides administrative and workflow solutions for business professionals who are seeking to live well in all areas of their life.


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