Never Stop Playing

Rachel Mumau | February 23 2016 | 0 Comments

 Above: My cat Chirp who was helping me prune fruit trees last night.

Yesterday morning I read an article on “The Power of Creative Cross Training” by Srinivas Rao.  The main idea of the article was to do something creative outside of your normal line of creative work. Similar to the idea of a swimmer lifting weights to get better at his primary skill.  Makes sense to me.  It’s important to work different creative muscles so that you can actually do what you already do better.  Rao suggested for example, that a writer can really benefit from learning how to draw.

Following that, I read an email from Grace Kang, founder of Pink Olive School, about the importance of always being a sponge as an entrepreneur. Her business tip #1 is as follows:

“Tip #1 is at the heart of the #neverstoplearning mindset: be a sponge. Every new experience, exacting test, or tricky business decision offers something to be learned. Always keep an eye out for the hidden lessons, and soak in every little one..."

Both of these things together reminded me of the importance of always being a student.  When I had graduated from my educational career, one of the first things I did was turn my brain off!  It wasn’t until years later when I consciously realized the learning can never be over.  If I wanted to grow as a person and in my career, I needed to become a full-time student, preparing my mind to be ready to learn new things.  A person has no excuse in today’s information age: the information is out there, you just have to take the time to get it in your head!  More than ever, our generation has to learn the art of teaching ourselves.

So yesterday evening, inspired by those morning thoughts, I decided to do some creative cross training.  I decided to work on my artistic skills as a fruit tree pruner. Last year, I had read some books and taught myself the basics of pruning.  I fell in love with the craft. On our small hobby farm we have planted about forty fruit trees in the past seven years, and pruning in the early life of a fruit tree is so important. By snipping off the correct branches, you can mold and sculpt the future shape of the mature tree. It takes creativity, artistry, knowledge, and the ability to make a decision! I found myself last night saying over and over again “That branch is useless.” (snip!) “That branch is useless.” (snip!) “That branch is useless.” (snip!) You want to take off any branches that are unlikely to produce fruit. The hardest part (for me) is continually making decisions about who stays and who goes.

So what did I learn from my cross training activity? That if you have a tree that is supposed to produce fruit, it’s going to need some working on. Trees that do not produce fruit, for example, maple and birch trees, don’t need worked on because you aren’t expecting much from them but shade! It made me think of a business.  If you want your employees to produce fruit, they are going to require working on: manicuring, training, shaping. If you want an employee who is not very profitable, sure, don’t do any honing of skills!  It takes extra time and effort, especially in the beginning, but the effort that is taken when the tree or person is young, can make all of the difference later on.

My cat Chirp, pictured above, also taught me a lesson.  As I was clipping branches Chirp was climbing the tree to capture my pruners!  Without words, Chirp reminded me: #neverstopplaying.