Monday, 4 August 2014

The Other Side

There was a young woman who took great pride in the growth and care of the flowers in her flower garden. She had been raised by her grandmother who taught her to love and care for flowers as she herself had done. So, like her grandmother, her flower garden was second to none.

One day while looking through a flower catalogue she often ordered from, a picture of a plant immediately caught her eye.

She had never seen blooms on a flower like that before.I have to have it,”  she said to herself, and she immediately ordered it.

When it arrived, she already had a place prepared to plant it. She planted it at the base of a stone wall at the back of her yard. It grew vigorously, with beautiful green leaves all over it, but there were no blooms. Day after day she continued to cultivate it, water it, feed it, and she even talked to it attempting to coax it to bloom. But, it was to no avail.

One morning weeks later, as she stood before the vine, she contemplated how disappointed she was that her plant had not bloomed. She was giving considerable thought to cutting it down and planting something else in its place.

It was at this point that her invalid neighbor, whose lot joined hers, called over to her. “Thank you so much! You can’t imagine how much I have enjoyed the blooms of that vine you planted.” 

The young woman walked through the gate into her neighbor’s yard, and sure enough, she saw that on the other side of the wall the vine was filled with blooms.

There were indeed the most beautiful blooms she had ever seen. The vine had crept through the crevices and it had not flowered on her side of the fence, it had flowered luxuriantly on the other side.

Just because sometimes you cannot see the good result of your labour, it  does not mean that it bore no fruit.

So dear friends, always look on the other side before you feel despondent about your lost labour.

Good work never ever goes waste !


  1. Learning point: Even when my efforts are not bringing good results to me, it may be doing good to others. I should be happy about it. So do not be selfish and seek happiness in the happiness of others.
    Good moral story.

  2. Interesting discussion on this post on the System Thinking World on Linked in . Have a look :

    Gene Bellinger

    Might our myopic shortsightedness often derail our efforts as we simply have not the vision to imagine the implications?

    Robert Koshinskie

    A nice and instructive fable, but I don't believe it relates to the "leadership" category, at least not in the corporate world.

    In the "real world" of leadership within an environment of capitalism if the goal was to have blooms on the owner's side of the fence then she has failed regardless the positive impact on her neighbor. The owner could try to recover her loss by harvesting the blooms and selling them, but then that's a whole other story ;-)
    Gene Bellinger

    Robert and isn't that part of the reason the corporate world is so.... ?

    Richard Wright

    Robert you are conflating management with leadership. They are NOT synonymous.

    Robert Koshinskie

    Gene, no argument. It is, however, apparently a condition of the system and the incentives appear to favor continuation of the condition to those who have the power to change it.

    Richard, no conflation on my part - refer back to the site where the article appeared and you'll see it's under the heading of "leadership." I think you may agree it doesn't belong under such a category? That was really my point.

    Richard Wright

    Robert in your example you provided a typical management reaction that sought to turn the blooms to a corporate advantage with the only concern being the bottom line. Leadership is a hard skill to define and impossible to teach. Good leaders come in all shapes and sizes, but all have the ability to inspire folks to do their best, to fully engage in a project, and to work together. How this accomplished varies wildly, but good leadership is a function of attitude, personality, and empathy. The article in question concerns the latter.

    Robert Koshinskie

    Richard, at the risk of starting a pedantic argument, I maintain that the article is an example of failed leadership. If one can take the position that every outcome is acceptable, regardless the intended outcome (as long as personality and empathy are expressed), then there are no failures in leadership. This is great news for those in leadership positions because they will never be held accountable for not achieving their stated goal as long as they can point to the "blossoms" of their failure.

  3. Richard Wright

    Robert I find it interesting that we have such different interpretations of the same article. Perhaps one of the intentions of the author was to encourage discussion by being a bit ambiguous.
    In any event, my feeling is that failed leadership is synonymous with failure to successfully complete whatever task the leader has set out to accomplish. So not is not the case that “every outcome is acceptable”, but it is the case that a successful outcome may also produce results that, while irrelevant to that outcome, may contribute to a greater good.


    Richard, it is interesting how people see things differently. I think that the fable format is particularly useful in generating different perspectives because it is so simple in form and offers very little to consider or validate outside of the moral of its story.

    lewis campbell

    The vine in all its glory sought the sun, drawing within its systems world, resources from the ground, energy from the sun, expanding in balance to the nature of its environmental limits. It knew nothing of the humans, the fence, it only sought life in balance to the boundary conditions that limited it growth.

    Its programming cascaded to the blooms of its innate desire to create, if not the beauty for man, then the beauty of what life it might throw to the winds of time. Finding its needs the same as any other, changing its world to meet the demands of those higher forms of life that are built upon its own.

    Leadership is not about goals; but a desire to create, its boundary conditions always more than we know. It draws upon those systems around it, leading not by the push of a micromanaged mind; but by providing a path to the light where all can see. Once the others see, they polarize to an emergent behavior of thought and form where nothing limits what visions can be.

    Just a thought..have a nice night...



  4. Hi all,

    Robert, interesting that people took to you for saying it how it is ;-)

    Of course, it depends on how you read the article and how you view the 'real world' - and poses the question: is leadership about maintaining what IS or aspiring to what OUGHT...or could be...?

    In this regard I would have to question your observation "A nice and instructive fable, but I don't believe it relates to the "leadership" category" but not with your qualification "at least not in the corporate world" - for I would agree that much of what I see there is NOT leadership.

    I would agree with you that "In the [so currently defined] "real world" of leadership WITHIN an environment of capitalism" then the goal would undoubtedly be to exploit the utilitarian value of whatever is the focus of attention, i.e. "to have blooms on the OWNER'S side of the fence" in this she did indeed fail miserably in inadvertently providing "positive impact on her neighbour" - i.e. OUTSIDE the bounds of the system capitalism defines. I'm reminded that the current dominant corporate model is ALL about externalising (socialising) the costs, and internalising (privatising) the benefits, definitively NOT vice versa!! Goodness, what would the 'real world' look like if people were out there doing good stuff willy nilly, outside the bounds of so called 'common sense' WITHOUT expecting immediate, personal ROI??!!

    You are also correct that "The owner could try to recover her loss by harvesting the blooms and selling them" as this would then, in the Corporate real world, bring in IP law/ property law/ commercial law and so on - all geared to exploit for private gain, not improve environments for all.

    I like the fable, not just for its simplicity, but for the fact that it caused us, here, to challenge what is good and right and viable in how we see the world, not just conduct business within the business-as-usual paradigm.

    Perhaps leadership is about not just looking for the 'planned exploitation', but also the 'unplanned explorations', that might show us the 'other side' where a broader range of values (and unintended consequences/ impacts/ cost and benefits) from the seeds we often so avariciously sow might blossom and have their impact.

    Perhaps leadership is also about having your roots in one system, but seeking to find the cracks to enable you to blossom... on 'the other side'.


  5. Really great post. I like your style to explain it. Nice, keep it up...

    Leadership Development Training

  6. I liked it.. I learned something new.. Leadership needs to look at any issue from all the sides.. More from the opposite side to understand things in their true perspective..