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“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – proverb

I’ve used that line for inspiration many times: when starting my business; when talking to people in my company; and I just used it, in a very literal sense, at my house.

We’ve done a decent amount of landscaping and gardening at home, but there’s this one spot that was always just sparse grass and dust. It’s too sunny and hot there in the summer, so the grass can’t grow well. It’s not a pleasant spot for the rest of us, either, for the same reason.

Many years ago, we thought about planting a tree there. A tree of the right species could use that sun. It would look pretty and its roots would stabilize the soil. Its branches would shelter birds and protect shade-tolerant grass or other soft ground cover (my editor put her self named “botany geek” touch on that sentence!). My kids would have a cool spot to hang out—to read a book, nap, play games, or just sit in the shade. The dog would dig a dog-hole and nap in it beside them.

Nice, right?

But for whatever reason, we didn’t plant the tree. We invested elsewhere, there were other things to do, that tree wasn’t a priority, so we didn’t get around to it. Recently, I heard myself wishing we’d planted that tree, as if we’d lost our chance.

But then it hit me—that old proverb! It’s not too late! Sure, we should have planted this tree ten years ago, or five years ago, or last year. But the next best time to plant the tree is right now.

So we did it.

Plant that Tree! Proverb - for business, life, and planting trees - entrepreneur perspectives blog

Hurricane Florence came a few days after, but our tree hung tough! It’s a bit young today. It’s a bit small. It’s not giving us a lot of shade yet, but it’s there. And 20 years from now, 60 years from now, someone will be enjoying its cool shelter.

In business there are so many things we could have started yesterday—there’s that idea we could have put into practice, that extra training we could have picked up, that new venture we could have started, that book we could have read. But all of those ‘should haves’ can still be done. They can be done right now. “The present is the future’s past”

As I finish this article, I think about all the things I could I have done in the past and how great that would have been. And then I think about what I can do today.


Oh, and while you’re planting that tree… listen to our podcast: Entrepreneur Perspectives.

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