Life Lessons From A Longleaf Pine

Managing land and trees has always been a passion of mine. Over the years, I've planted thousands of trees of many different varieties. In that time, I have become particularly fascinated with the longleaf pine. The mature longleaf pine has the most valuable wood of any pine species, which led to heavy harvesting throughout the twentieth century. For years, everyone wanted to harvest the mature trees, but no one wanted to replant any because it is extremely difficult to get them to survive. On top of that, the trees experience extremely slow growth in their first few years. This combination resulted in near extinction of the longleaf across the United States.

At Swift Straw, we have spent an inordinate amount of time dedicated to reintroducing longleaf pines back into the ecosystem and creating long term plans to preserve them. My knowledge of the longleaf pine has taught me a few things about life.

1) The first and most important thing when reintroducing a longleaf pine is to start with the right seedling which is healthy and strong. In business, this relates to a company or team having the right people, without which you are doomed before you begin. 

2) The seedling requires a strong foundation which includes the right soil, the right preparation, and the removal of any competition. This is very similar to creating the foundation for a new business.  The right business plan requires a differentiated strategy that decreases vulnerability from more established competition.  

 3) The longleaf pine requires a willingness for deferred gratification. Other species of pine are easier to plant and initially grow faster, which works well for short term thinkers. But, much like the tortoise and the hare, the value of the longleaf pine will far surpass the other species if given enough time to grow.  

4) Watching a longleaf pine tree grow is a testament to the power of perseverance. It does not grow in big spurts, but rather a little bit each day. If you were to measure the tree's height every day, it would be easy to get discouraged thinking you weren't making much progress.  However, much like success in life, if you make a little progress each day you will eventually look up and be amazed by how far you have come. 

The longleaf pine requires a vision, a plan, a strong foundation, a willingness for deferred gratification, and perseverance. The next time you are thinking about doing something great, think of the longleaf. 

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