In case the title leads you to think you've dropped into some gardening advice, let me reassure you. The only time I have green fingers is after cleaning the lawn mower!
But even as a non-expert, I do find nature fascinating. For the past eleven years, a strip of my garden has been left to itself. It has always grown a great crop of nettles and hogweed. It dies back each winter and then repeats the performance each spring.
This year I have mowed it from the earliest growth onwards. Sure, there are still some nettles but alongside there are a variety of plants that, amazingly, were not there before. Simply cutting the growth every few weeks has changed the harvest.
There is a clear analogy here with the general observation on life -- 'if you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got'. For fresh results, do something different and see what flowers.
Many of us aim for full life. We'd like it packed 100% with good things to give us a sense of fulfillment. But even things in our life that are not really fulfilling, we tend to pack in anyway -- better full than not. In fact we rather pity someone who has an 'empty life' and we hope they discover a way to fill it.
This outlook misses a crucial point -- if our lives are full, there is no room for anything new.
Think of a forest planted for timber. The saplings are first positioned near each other to encourage them to grow straight. After a few years there comes a time for thinning, when the forester fells some trees to give the others more room to develop. At intervals during the life of the trees, more thinning will take place to allow the forest to reach full maturity.
In winter travels in the country, you may have seen a traditionally laid hedge. This harsh pruning is the best way to rejuvenate it. Even when an old trunk has been cut off at ground level -- just a stump -- it will make fresh youthful growth in the spring.
There is an amusing side to this ability of nature. In many areas of waste ground and alongside railway tracks, there are buddleia bushes -- very popular with butterflies. Land owners see the plants as weeds and send men to cut them down. The thing is that the pruning stimulates even more growth!
The recognition that sometimes we need to make room in our lives has spawned a service industry of de-clutterers. They will help you 'prune' your domestic environment, and some offer a similar service for offices.
But the scope for pruning goes well beyond our physical environment. For example, we may have goals that have passed their sell-by date, dreams that no longer serve us, and relationships that choke our growth.
However busy and successful we are, we can create some space, a degree of emptiness for new growth.
Pruning cuts down competing influences that smother fresh shoots. When we have the courage to prune, the pile of 'cuttings' are not seen as 'what might have been', but the inspiring step towards 'what can be'.
About the author: Trevor Hill publishes his Inspiration at Work newsletter for employed and self-employed professionals. If you want to boost your energy and motivation, and get more job satisfaction, then get your free tips now at: Inspiration at Work.