Nurturing Corn Stalks Among the Soybeans

A few years ago I was walking along the road near our summer home in Northwestern PA when I crested a hill and saw the scene pictured here.  Now in case you don’t have a farmer’s crop-savvy eye, I’ll tell you that this field was planted as a field of soybeans.* And soybeans in this part of the country don’t typically grow above waist high.

Yet there they were. A few rowdy-looking corn plants popping up among all these otherwise sleepy-looking soybeans. Like giant exclamation points, these guys randomly punctuated what should have been a uniformly short collection of soy plants.

Since I sometimes wax philosophical on these walks, I was particularly receptive to the story they seemed to be telling me. The theme was simple. Dare to stand out. Dare to reach for the sky. Go ahead and be different, if you’re feeling it. And most importantly, be true to yourself and don’t be afraid to stand a little taller than everyone else.  And as this theme crystallized in my mind, I found myself opening up to their energy.

I thought about how it must have been when they first poked their budding longish leaves above ground, surrounded and shaded by the chubby soy leaves. And I thought about how they somehow managed to catch enough sunlight to stir them to life… to encourage them to reach out and start their comparatively excessive journey toward the sky. And I wondered if the soy plants were a little surprised to see these ones-that-don’t-belong-here rocketing up far above them just a few weeks after they invaded their otherwise all-soy spaces.

And then I began thinking about how new ideas are sometimes like these seemingly out-of-place, rowdy-looking corn plants. At first they just seem like some sort of weird accident. Something that will go away if we just ignore it. Then the existence of one stimulates another one, followed by the growth of still more. And the first thing you know, there are a whole bunch of voices supporting an idea that was entirely unexpected. And after all, aren’t most creative breakthroughs, at first,  unexpected surprises?

All things considered, I decided that there was something beautiful and inspiring about these gangly, out-of-place, wildly sturdy plants that managed to thrive despite their surroundings. And I resolved that I would be on the lookout for gangly, out-of-place ideas on my project teams. And when I find such ideas I’ll be careful not to fear them as freakish invaders, but instead nurture them to see what surprises and creative leaps they may have in store for us.


* Want to see more pictures of soybeans? C’mon… you know you do! If you eat soy products, you should pay your respects to the amazing plant that produces the beans!  See my Google Plus album, Soybeans [Yep, Soybeans!  (Go to )


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