Sunday, December 7, 2008

Are You a Hollow Tree in the Corporate Jungle?

What can Hurricane Ike teach you about getting stuck in a job rut?

My family and my business is based in Houston. Hurricane Ike came through this past weekend and rattled and rolled our city and our lives. It will be hard to forget the devastation that occurred to our neighboring coastal cities.

When we awoke Saturday morning, we found our home intact, but several small trees and a fence between our home and our neighbor's house had fallen. We were very fortunate.

As the rain started to subside, many of us ventured outside to see if others were in need around us and to survey the damage in our neighborhood. Many trees were down and some had destroyed homes.

Wham, bam, thank you m'am (mother nature)!

As the days passed and I continued to see more of our neighboring streets, I noticed more and more trees down. What surprised me about many of the trees I observed, was that they were hollow and had shallow roots.

Yet, days earlier who would have suspected that these apparently strong and functioning trees were like shells; hollow on the inside?

In this example, Mother Nature's actions are a great metaphor for what often happens in the Corporate Jungle. You see, Mother Nature understands the need for pruning to promote growth. She has a way of weeding out the debris that can be stifling and impeding growth.

Are you a Hollow Tree in the Corporate Jungle?

Kevin and Jackie Freiberg, authors of "Boom! 7 Choices forBlowing the Doors off Business-as-Usual" refer to this phenomena as "Dead People Working". Like the seemingly strong, functioning tree-when it falls, it is obvious that there was nothing inside holding it intact to the earth. was just taking up space in the Corporate Jungle.

You see, the Corporate Jungle, like Mother Nature, understands that pruning can promote growth. I am not trying to sound callous, but if you are a Hollow Tree in the Corporate Jungle, it might just be time to re-root yourself somewhere else, or Corporate Mother Nature will do it for you.

Re-rooting yourself requires finding your passion again. You see Hollow Trees are just "hanging out" because the sunshine and water is good where they are, because they feel safe, but they aren't producing fruit, flowers or seeds any longer.

If your life blood isn't pumping and your roots are growing shallow; you've lost the passion for where and what you are doing. Do yourself and others the favor and re-root yourself, or others will do it for you!

I was re-rooted, initially unwillingly, by others. I was starting to become a Hollow Tree. When my job scope began to change and my company wanted me to pursue other opportunities in Atlanta....well what do you think? It was time to go.

Hollow Trees in nature don't hang on to deadness; no they just fall when Mother Nature pushes them. Well, people like you and I, we love to hold on to deadness, holding on to stuff that isn't working for us any longer in our lives. That could be a relationship, a job, a habit. We get stuck in a rut.

Don't be a Hollow Tree in the Corporate Jungle or anywhere else for that matter. Find your passion, your life blood and grow deep roots. It will be good for you and for everyone else around you. It will promote growth in you and in everything you do.

Laura Lopez is a performance strategist, leadership specialist and branding expert with more than 20 years of corporate leadership experience. Most recently, Laura Lopez was a vice president with The Coca-Cola Company. Laura's book, The Connected and Committed Leader, is available via her Web site at, at your local bookstore or on As the owner of her own business, Laura helps companies and business associations achieve more sustainable business results through the power of leveraging diverse talent with effective leadership and branding. She is available for speeches, workshops and customized programs. Laura can be contacted via her Web site at:

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