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Think Like a Ginkgo

Living fossilImage via Wikipedia

Great leaders share attributes with the great Ginkgo, the oldest tree in the world. Ginkgo trees have been around more than 200 million years, undoubtedly providing shade for the dinosaurs at some point. These trees can reach 50'-80' in height, with a spread of 30'-40'. Their uniquely fan-shaped leaves start out green but morph into a golden fall foliage. They are elegant, beautiful trees.

Where's the closest Ginkgo tree to your home? Find it. Pay attention to it, season by season, year by year. Learn from it.

Like a great leader, the Ginkgo is tenacious, a survivor. They hold on when they need to hold on.

  • They adapt well to an urban environment, tolerating pollution and confined soil spaces. They rarely suffer disease problems and few insects attack them.
  • Some live to be 2,500 years old. Darwin called them "a living fossil."
  • In Hiroshima, Japan, four Ginkgo trees growing between 1-2 kilometers from the 1945 atom bomb explosion were among the few living things in the area to survive the blast. Though almost all other plants and animals in the area were destroyed, the Ginkgoes, though charred, survived and were soon healthy again. Those trees are alive to this day. In Russia, a Ginkgo was the only plant to survive the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl.

Like a great leader, the Ginkgo is also flexible, adaptable and unique. They let go when they need to let go.

  • It is said that the Ginkgo's trunk is always warmer to the touch than the temperature around it. Even in the depths of winter, most other trees feel cold to the touch, but not the Ginkgo.
  • Though they are huge trees, they can be grown as Japanese bonsai; they can be kept artificially small and tended for centuries.
  • A Ginkgo's leaves usually change to a golden color all at once in the fall, hold for a short time and then all fall from the tree together, creating brilliant showers of sparkling yellow leaves, and then a lovely soft golden carpet.

In what respects are you like the mighty, elegant and resilient Ginkgo? Do YOU exemplify the dichotomy of tenacity and flexibility?

It's interesting to note that the Ginkgo does not grow in the wild. It grows only in places where caretakers and gardeners have recognized the special excellence of this plant and have honored the connection it offers us to a history beyond memory. Hmmm...I wonder what that says about nurturing the legacy of great leaders?

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Comments

This is a great analogy! It really made me think.

Ginkgo does not grow in the wild. It grows only in places where caretakers and gardeners have recognized the special excellence of this plant and have honored the connection it offers us to a history beyond memory. That statement can best sum up my feelings about friendships...recognizing the special excellence and honoring the connection!! Thank you for this meaningful blog.

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