I'd like to talk for just a moment about one of my long term customers. She does something that I really admire. She spends time talking with every person in her organization about their sparks, about their personal passions and interests. She asks them about the work that they're doing and whether or not that work is igniting their spark. And when the answer is no, she helps them to find other work, maybe even to change jobs so that they are doing work that sparks their interest, that fuels their passion, and that is a very close match to the difference they want to make in the world.
Now, of course, realistically, sometimes that doesn't happen immediately. Sometimes they're very tied to a project, a deadline, a deliverable that requires them to continue in the work that they're doing. But you see people in that business know that it won't be a life sentence. They won't have to go somewhere else to find the fulfillment that they're looking for. Oftentimes, they work faster and harder to get through the work that they don't personally enjoy, so that they'll earn that opportunity to be redeployed in something else that they'll enjoy more.
This customer, she's very smart. She knows that maximizing the potential of every individual involves sometimes redeploying them. Sometimes it involves re-evaluating what they're doing. When an individual can't find anything in the organization that is igniting a spark for them, they often self-select to go elsewhere and that's okay, too. Work ought to be enjoyable. People should feel personally fulfilled in the work that they do as often as is feasible and possible.
What are you doing to maximize the potential of every single employee in your organization? on your team? If you've never thought about that before, it's a healthy exercise. Don't be afraid of it. Dive in and see what those possibilities could be.
Sometimes, we fail to notice the good in the things that aren't what we were after. We have a mental picture of how things are supposed to be and anything that differs from that, well, we can easily dismiss it and miss out on the opportunities within it. That's true in my straw bale garden. There are actually some really good things in that garden, but I didn't recognize as such. The first year that I had a garden, one thing that really surprised me is that about a month or so after I'd conditioned the straw bales, all these mushrooms started popping up a wide variety of them.
These interlopers right there in the bales of straw where I had planted my crops! So every morning I'd go out, frustrated and it was time consuming and I'd wear gloves, I didn't know how poisonous these mushrooms were and I would pluck out each and every one of them, only to come back the next day and see that more had grown to take their place. It was so frustrating. By year two, I had done some research and I knew that there might be some ways that I could prevent mushrooms, but more importantly, I had learned that actually, mushrooms are very beneficial in a garden like this.
For one thing, they're an indicator that your straw bales are extremely good as a medium for growing. Secondly, the mushrooms do no harm whatsoever, they dry up just as soon as the sun comes up and a little heat hits them. And when the sun hits them and they shrivel and shrink and decompose, they are in and of themselves a compost that's feeding your other plants. So I've learned to love my little mushrooms. I'm not going to eat them and take any chances, but I'm perfectly happy to let them come in on their own and help to fertilize my little plants.
In a similar way, when it comes to to maximizing what you do, it's easy to think about the fact that some things that could be wasted don't have to be. You've probably heard me talk about how I dehydrate a lot of foods. I have a dehydrator and I dehydrate things not only from my garden, but other things that I used to throw away. Once upon a time, orange peels went straight into the compost heap. But now I use the orange peels, I dry them and I grind them into orange powder. It's a wonderful way to perk up just about any dish that you ever want to cook. It goes into shrimp, bang, you just put a little bit in your shrimp fettuccini and it brightens up the flavor. It goes into oatmeal, it goes into any other kind of cereal, whatever you want to brighten up the flavor with, just a pinch of orange peel goes a long way.
I do the same thing with other citrus peels and with tomato peels. There's a lot in our food that we throw away and don't need to. It might be the very best part of the food, if you use it in a new way. When you're maximizing, it means that you're making the most out of everything you've got, even when you have an abundance.
I had an abundance of celery last year, so I maximized it by learning how to freeze it. And so you can't use frozen celery in everything. It's no good, for example, if you want to have some peanut butter and raisins on a piece of celery, if you want that crispy bite. But if you want to use celery in soups or stews or other prepared dishes, frozen celery works just fine. So don't throw it away when you have too much. Maximize it!
If you're looking for new ways to use yellow tomatoes, for example, and I had a lot of them, those little cherry golden tomatoes, I found some good recipes and was able to do some very interesting things with golden tomatoes. The same with cucumbers, although I will have to tell you that I am absolutely sick of cucumber soup, cold soup. I froze some cucumbers and that's about all you can do with frozen ones. So I've had more than my lifetime's fill of that. But I also made some beautiful jams. Cucumber lime makes a great marmalade. I've got other flavors of jellies and jams that I invented because I had to use up these cucumbers and I was unwilling - It's just a promise that I made myself -I was unwilling to do all the work of growing something if it wasn't going to be used by me or by someone else.
Now, one of the things that we maximize are the straw bales themselves. When we first moved into our new home, there was a lovely snowball tree and some beautiful peonies and some area in the backyard that were not all that healthy. And I was bound and determined to find some ways to bring those plants back to life, in that area, back to life. I think one of the big secrets that helped us to do that was that at the end of the growing season with all this straw bale that had these beautiful nutrients in it because we had amended it to help with growing the other plants that grew there all season long.
We took the mostly broken down straw bales and we used them as mulch in our flower beds and around our house and these plants have flourished because of it. So think about ways that you can more sustainably use every single aspect of what you're growing or every single aspect of what you're doing. Your time is precious, you've got to use it wisely. The products that you build, the work that you do, it has more that it can deliver than the obvious end result.
So look for ways in everything that you do to completely maximize and get the most from your efforts.