Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “Don’t Try to Walk before You Can Crawl” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/17/08)
TITLE: The Potted Plant
By Esther Phillips
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The wife of my boss came in my office and yelled, “You are just going to have to do this the way I say.” It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I picked up my things and walked out. Earlier that day, I gave my boss three week’s notice in my resignation letter. He said, “I don’t like this one bit.” I answered, “I don’t like it either.” Then he asked if I would give him time to talk to his wife at home that evening before I made the final decision. I answered, “Yes”.
Let us step back from this fateful day to see how we arrived there. Our company was a struggling small business in the petro-chemical industry that employed about 30 people. On special projects, we would employ up to 100 people.
I started working for this small company eight years earlier as a temp. I rose in the ranks to Chief Financial Officer. I was responsible for all aspects on the financial spectrum.
Then one day we hired Earl, an engineer. Earl quickly became a financial authority in my boss’s eyes even though he admitted to me that all the accounting he had was one year in college. Earl was setting us up on the computer and the boss’s wife came in to help him.
Earl called meetings to discuss the different aspects of the accounting process that he was setting up. Somehow, they didn’t remember to include me in those meetings. When I discussed it with Jim, my boss, he said, “Oh, there is plenty of time for you to get involved later.”
I argued, “With accounting, everything has to be right from the beginning or we will have a real mess on our hands.”
Prior to getting to this accounting fiasco, Jim would dream of a new market, and in no time, we were expanding. I talked to him about the need to go slower until the money caught up. Jim said, “Well, we need to keep expanding or the business will die. “
I agreed that expansion was a good thing assuming that we had the proper resources. He said, “If you put a plant in a pot, it will stay the same size. If you want it to grow, you have to put it in a bigger pot.”
I argued, “Yes, but if you put it in a pot that is too big; and it doesn’t have the proper amount of sunshine, fertilizer, and water, it will curl up and die. You simply have to have everything in proper proportion if you want it to grow.”
In the Bible in Psalm 1:3 are these words, “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” (NIV)
Yes, I left the job that day long ago. I talked to Jim several times after that. He told me they were struggling and he had taken over the financial end rather than hiring someone else. It soon became apparent that they were in over their heads so he closed down three sites across the country. He said they had to put their plant in a smaller pot.
Today, several years later, they are a solid company. They are prospering. I couldn’t be happier for them.
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