What do you need to prune from your life or your business? That may seem like an odd question, but please read on.

Recently I attended a conference and Henry Cloud was one of the keynote speakers. Henry Cloud is a leadership coach to CEOs and business executives, and a clinical psychologist with an extensive background in both the clinical and professional consulting worlds. He has written over a dozen books…suffice it to say, he is an authority in his field.

Henry published a book a few years ago titled Necessary Endings – The Employees, Businesses and Relationships That All Of Us Have To Give Up In Order To Move Forward. I remember reading it when it first came out. During this conference, Henry spoke from this book and it has prompted me to read it again.

In his book, Henry discusses the practice of pruning and relates it to the necessity of a gardener knowing that a rose bush will never be all it was meant to be unless some of the buds and branches are pruned. He points out the rose bush naturally produces more buds than it can bring to full maturity, so pruning is necessary. In life, we humans produce more of many things and as a result, we actually limit our effectiveness and success because we are producing too much!

If we don’t prune, we deprive ourselves of the maximum amount of nourishment available to allow the healthiest of our buds to really flourish.
Henry referenced Jack Welch’s wisdom of having all the GE businesses strive to be number one or two in its market. Any business that was struggling or sick would be fixed, closed or sold. He also would require the bottom 10 percent of performers in the workforce to be let go.

In life and in business, we all have examples of relationships, products or services that must be examined on a regular basis to determine if they still serve a healthy purpose. When was the last time you pruned the items in your garage? When was the last time you seriously assessed the long standing relationship with a vendor that is just no longer delivering what is needed.

Don’t get me wrong – I am all for having loyalty in my relationships. I am thankful to say that many of my current client organizations have been clients for 10 years or more!

This doesn’t mean it is healthy for me to hang onto business relationships that take more nourishment to just maintain the status quo. Doing so will actually limit what my company can provide to our clients, and I don’t want to be in this place.

Henry says in his book, “The very nature of people is that there are some good ones who are not right for you, some sick ones in denial who are not going to change, and some who are adding nothing. Always. So, if no one ever leaves your organization or your life, then you are in some sort of denial and enabling some really sick stuff all over the place.”

This may sound harsh; yet it is a reality. As a leader, one of your focuses must be on the continual growth and development of those who follow you. If some of them are not able to embrace their need for growth, it just doesn’t make sense for you to continue to pour your nourishment into them if they are not willing to grow.

This applies to products and services as well. A particular product may have been a killer discovery 20 years ago, but realistically is a drag on company resources today. A careful and factual examination may be in order.

I highly recommend Necessary Endings – it has been eye-opening to me. Let me know if you agree.