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Do It Your Way

Last week, on our honeymoon (!) on Vancouver Island, my husband and I visited an old rainforest where gigantic cedar trees—some a few hundred years old—stretched into the sky.

It felt a bit like a Harry Potter movie, or something out of a J.R.R. Tolkein novel. The forest was magical…mystical…other-worldly.

Along the paths, biologists and botanists had posted signs, explaining the history of these multi-century old trees and how they grew.

All of it was fascinating, but one item really stuck with me: the concept of “nursing trees”.

Many cedar trees began by growing ON TOP of an old log – the remains of a tree that had fallen decades ago.  While one gigantic tree was decaying, it was giving birth to new life.

Here are two images of a nursing tree. You can see the roots growing around the other trunk, using it for stability, shape and in some cases, nutrients.

The concept here, of course, is that the old gives way to the new and helps SHAPE it.

Years ago, when I was studying performance and jazz dance in NYC, I had an exceptional teacher named LUIGI.

Luigi was a master teacher and a master dancer. He’d worked with the likes of Liza Minelli and Gene Kelly and even in his 80s, he was still teaching. His famous tagline: Never Stop Moving.

In class one day, I said to him, “I want to be like you.”  He stopped what he was doing, came right up to me, and held his finger up to my nose.

No. Be YOU.

Take what I teach you; then do it YOUR way.

I’ll never forget it.

Great masters give us grounding, stability, vision and tools.

And then, if they’re true masters, they let you do your work your way.  The worst thing you can do for your own growth—whether you’re a company or an individual—is imitate someone else.

The best thing you can do: learn the key principles from the masters. Then, grow your own roots—sideways, downwards and whichever way you must—and 

reach for the sky.

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