AmericanHort Cultivate’18 Keynote Follow-up

Cultivating Your Mind For High Performance

Thousands of horticulture professionals descend upon Cultivate each year looking for new tactics to grow their business. While they all learn the same best practices, results will vary dramatically. Why? Why do people running similar operations under similar circumstances get such different results? What gives high performers their edge? These are the questions we explored during my presentation at Cultivate’18.

Horticulture professionals aren’t just growing plants. They’re also trying to grow their businesses. Three factors impact their ability to do this:

  1. Circumstances. These are all the outside elements directly impacting our operations. These include the economy, the weather, government regulations and other factors over which we have no control. It’s tempting to blame these factors when things aren’t going well.
  2. Operations. This is all the stuff that keeps us busy. It’s our sales, marketing, horticulture methods and the other tasks that occupy our time. These are the best practices we believe are the secret to success. Really, they’re just the prerequisite. Everyone’s doing this stuff. Operations just allow us to compete.
  3. Mindset. This is the human side of our work. It’s our emotions, our psychology and the philosophy that informs how we approach operations.

If there’s one common denominator among high performers, it’s their mindset. They maintain a clear head when things get tough. They remain focused on their business mission. They act with courage rather than fear. They’re resilient. They inspire their employees, rather than just direct them. They focus on relationships rather than transactions. High performers execute best practices more effectively not just because of what they do, but because of how they think.

In my presentation, we discussed five ways horticulture professionals can enhance their mindset for higher levels of performance:

  1. PULL YOUR WEEDS. Just as we need to rid our garden of everything that doesn’t belong, we also need to clear our heads of counterproductive thoughts. “Cognitive Distortion” is the way we interpret our circumstances and lose objectivity. We need to dispense with our fear, pessimism and negative self-talk in order to see our circumstances for how they really are. Only then can we make smart decisions.
  2. KEEP FERTILIZING. Continuously improve. Our businesses either grow or shrink. There is no maintaining. Complacency or thinking your business is good enough leaves you vulnerable to all the competition and changes happening in the marketplace. Keep changing, growing and pushing.
  3. CARE FOR YOUR WHOLE GARDEN. Focus your team. Your employees need as much cultivation as your plants. They need regular, ongoing care. Compensation isn’t enough. They need support, inspiration and guidance. They need feedback. They need coaching, individually and as a group. They need help with their mindset – the human side of their work. Be the gardener they need to thrive.
  4. SEND FLOWERS. Work on behalf of others. Think of yourself not as a boss, but as a servant. That requires losing your ego. Work for your employees. Train them to work for your customers. Create a workspace that’s all about service to others.
  5. SMELL THE ROSES. Practice gratitude. While we need to grow, new goals shouldn’t be prerequisites for satisfaction. Feeling good about what you have and how far you’ve come will energize you to move forward. Stop occasionally to appreciate what you have.

So much of the horticulture business is out of your control. Fortunately, the factor that matters most is something that’s completely within your power. Take a few moments each day to reflect on your mindset. There’s no better practice for cultivating a flourishing operation.

I’d love to answer any questions or read your comments below. I’ll also stay in touch with additional tips for effective business leadership. Please let me know if I can be of more help!

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