There's a Tree in the Road! - American Rural
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There’s a Tree in the Road!

08 Aug There’s a Tree in the Road!

A few years after moving to Montana, sometime in 2005 or 2006, I was in Washington, DC, my prior home base, to attend a meeting.  I’d stayed involved with some boards and other business on the east coast so a trip to DC wasn’t particularly notable for me.  But this time something small occurred that was a big awakening.    

As yall know, traffic is a big deal in most large cities.  It’s an especially big deal in DC, where you can spend an hour driving two or three miles.  So every morning, there are frequent traffic reports on television and radio, alerting local drivers to the delays they’re going to encounter as they drive to work.  On this particular trip, the traffic reporter, like clockwork, came on and said, “There’s a tree down across the George Washington Parkway.  Traffic is backed up for miles while we wait for the county to arrive to move the tree.”  

…My first thought was – I’m so happy to live in Montana! Yes, I was thrilled not to deal with traffic like that anymore.  But, I was also happily surprised for an unexpected reason.     

When I tell this story around the country, the reaction of folks from small and rural places warms me.  First, there’s the knowing chuckle.  Then, someone will say, “Nobody had a chain saw?”  The next question, still incredulous, is also more serious and more telling, “You mean folks didn’t just get out of their cars and work together to get the tree out of the road?”     

That’s the kind of “get it done now” culture that I’ve had the privilege now to know well.  And I’m so grateful. 

When I build a team or take on a new project, I look for partners and colleagues who are willing to do what it takes to get the tree out of the road.  I also look for those who know when they might need help and are willing to call on others to assist (I’m not always good at this, so am especially sensitive to it.) 

It reminds me of the old prayer, “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  

These past few months have been tough on the world.   It seems like instability and pain are increasing in so many places.  Whether you’re an entrepreneur, raising a family, trying to save a small corner of the globe, or all of the above, there seem to be more trees every day blocking our way into a bright future.

I’m proud to know so many who have the spirit to get out of their cars, work together, and get the trees out of the road.  Those folks live all over, but it was those of you from rural and small towns who taught me the most about it.  You inspire me.  Thanks for clearing the way.         

**I have written about this and tell the story often, but we couldn’t find the written version, so this is kind of a rewrite.  If you’ve seen it before, sorry for the repeat. 

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