The right inner stuff

tree crosssectionWe and the trees have got a lot in common—especially when we compare our inner resources! Working together for our overall growth and development, these intrinsic assets can produce high value in the marketplace:

Heartwood. In the very center of the tree grows the heartwood:  hard, dense wood, usually dark in color that gives strength to the tree.

  • Internally, our “heartwood” is our core integrity and inner strength, often formed through years of growth experiences. It’s a flexible stiffness, just like the tree, that overcomes storms and may bend—but not break—from external stresses. What are your unchangeable, core values?

Sapwood. Surrounding the heartwood is a layer of light-colored wood called the sapwood, which carries water, minerals, sugar food, and other nutrients upward in the tree from the roots to the twigs.

  • Our personal “sapwood” is our flow of concepts, ideas, notions, and perceptions, which is the fuel for our personal development and growth. What nutrients for improvement have you got circulating?

Cambium. Encircling the sapwood is the cambium, a microscopic layer of cells specializing in producing new sapwood to the inside and new inner bark to the outside.

  • In us the cambium represents our particular areas of growth reacting to the nourishment of education and training. Such progress can be either miniscule or magnificent—depending on the quality of nourishment. What are you learning? What skills are you practicing?

Inner bark. Surrounding the cambium, the inner bark transports sap laden with sugar food from the leaves downward to the branches, trunk and roots. In early spring, however, this flow reverses to help nourish swelling buds and leaves.

  • Our ability to direct sustenance to areas of special need can be considered our inner bark. How willing and able are you to change the way you work to enable the greater goals in your life?

Outer bark. The outside of the tree is clad with outer bark—woody tissue that protects the tree from disease, injury, temperature extremes, and pests.

  • Our “outer bark” is our outwardly recognizable traits and interaction with others and the world, clad with our attitudes that either prohibit or permit attacks on our psyches and mental wellbeing. How well are you protecting your flow of concepts, your areas of growth, your integrity?

Medullary rays. Radiating outward from the heartwood to the bark are medullary rays—specialized cells that store food and conduct food and water radially.

  • In us, these rays represent our networking and sharing of our inner resources among all aspects of our being for balance and well-roundedness—physically, psychologically, and spiritually. How are you balancing and integrating your vocation with your pastimes? Your career with your health? Your aspirations with your habits?

Annual rings. Comprised of two types of wood, the annual rings consist of wider bands of lighter-colored wood called springwood, which forms in the moist springtime when growth is faster; and narrower, darker bands called summerwood, which is grown at a slower rate in the drier summer. One light and one dark band together account for one year’s growth.

  • Well now, some of us have got a lot of rings, don’t we? And I’m not necessarily talking about age or girth! Yet we do have seasons and cycles of growth. But unlike the trees, whose expansion is greater when the livin’ is easy, most of our virtuous character traits develop during the more challenging periods in our lives when we must thrust our roots ever deeper, strengthen our resolve, expand our reach, and stretch to grow and change and adapt and strive to survive and thrive.

Both Tree and Self reveal that the healthier the nourishment, the stronger and more capable the life. How conducive or accommodating is your current environment to your physical, mental, spiritual, and professional growth and health? And if it isn’t all that, remember this additional great distinction: unlike the tree, we have the ability to change our environment. Go plant yourself in a properly cultivating climate. And grow and prosper!

MasterPoint: Nourish your assets to flourish your worth.