Entrepreneurs Must Be Flexible

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If you had a choice which would you rather be; an Oak Tree or a Palm Tree?

(There’s a moral to this entry if you get through the “science-y” part of it.)

Oak trees are known for being massive in size and height. These trees mature greatly over a many number of years. They have strong sturdy roots that run deep into the depths of the earth. Anyone who is head strong, brave, courageous, and attacks a situation head on would associate themselves with an Oak tree.

Palm trees on the other hand are known for their beauty, long slender structure, and always associated with warm climate environments. Their leaves are quintessential to religious traditions, as they are a part of the resurrection celebration every Easter holiday. Someone who stands tall with their head held high through the hassles of each day, and yet still remains strong would choose to be a palm tree.

How Each Tree Responds to a Storm

Their Trunks

Both trees are beautiful to look at, but when confronted with strong winds, the two trees respond differently.  An oak tree’s robust trunk can support a huge weight of branches, but has very limited flexibility which allows it to be uprooted and blown down if the wind is strong enough. Contrast this with the palm tree who’s trunk can bend over 40 or 50 degrees without snapping.

The Leaves

Oak trees rely on their beautiful canopy of branches, twigs and leaves to spread out and grab as much sunlight as possible. This creates a canopy effect which can also grab a lot of wind and water. In a bad storm, the canopy can act as a sail and pull the tree over; branches can easily be ripped off, as well as the detachment of the whole canopy.

Meanwhile, think of a palm tree. They have no wide-spreading branches, rather huge leaves with a central, flexible spine – like enormous feathers, notes Metcalfe. In nice weather the fronds spread out and make a fine canopy, but in instances of strong wind and water … what do the fronds do? They fold up! With less resistance against the elements they are much more likely to make it through intact. Of course some leaves may suffer and palm detritus is part and parcel of storm clean-up, they are much easier for the palm to replace than a whole canopy of branches the oak would have to replace.

How Do You Respond to a Storm?

Are you one that is big, strong, and can stand tall through any type of weather or situation? Those who associate themselves with the Oak have an “I shall not be moved” temperament.

Are you one that is tall and linear in size, and has the ability to be very limber in the midst of a storm. Those who associate themselves with the Palm, have an “I adjust to my surroundings” temperament.”

Being an Entrepreneur

Associating yourself with either one of the trees is neither right or wrong.  We all are who we are and God wasn’t having a bad day when he made any one of us. The takeaway here is to appreciate the strengths each one of them has and see what if any qualities we can borrow.  The oak tree’s strength is a marvel, but so is the palm trees durability & flexibility.  Be strong, but be flexible. As an entrepreneur, we all have a plan-until we’ve been kicked in the gut.  Learn to adjust your plan and still stay strong and focused on your long term goal.

There will be times in life when you will need the oak tree’s “I shall not be moved” mindset.  Entrepreneurship is hard, both physically and emotionally. Doubt, anxiety, despair–along the way, every entrepreneur struggles with those feelings. You will need to be physically strong, but more often then not-you will need to be mentally strong.

There will be times in life when you will the palm tree’s  “I adjust to my surroundings” temperament. Don’t let every uprising situation and circumstances break you. Lean and sway in the direction the wind pushes you. Go with the force instead of against it.  You cannot control the circumstances around you-but you can control how you respond to them.

I can guarantee you will never meet an entrepreneur who doesn’t have great self-belief. With so many risks to take, so much money to invest and so much time to spend, do you think all that would be easy if they weren’t confident in their ability to transform their idea into a profitable business? Entrepreneurs definitely don’t see themselves as invincible, but what they do see is that a job – no matter how difficult or challenging – can be done with the right attitude, work ethic and expertise.