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Strength in Numbers

by David DeFord

In October 1997, Omaha experienced a devastating early fourteen-inch snowfall that damaged over 85% of the city’s trees, according to the National Association of State Foresters. Since the trees had yet to shed their leaves, the added surface area allowed more of the heavy, wet snow to accumulate on the tree limbs. The weight proved too much for the limbs, causing them to splinter.

Clean up crews labored for a year to clear out the hundreds of thousands of tons of lost limbs. Seven-feet-high walls of lost limbs lined the curbs.

I helped lead a volunteer group that worked for over a year helping clear damaged trees for the elderly and disabled. Many of those we served wept at their terrible loss.

In the course of assisting these stricken people I observed that the trees that stood alone suffered much more damage than those that stood in clusters. Their limbs had to bear the full weight of the wet snow. But the trees that stood in groups deflected much of the snow from each other. As limbs rested on their neighbors, they shared the weight. Their combined strength allowed them to survive.

Most successful people have learned the same lesson—as the challenges of life and business strike us, we weather them best when we surround ourselves with strong associates.

Some entrepreneurs limit their growth by refusing to “play well with others.” They proudly stand alone against the storms thinking that greater glory and riches await those who earn solitary success. Gates, Dell, Wosniak, and Jobs have shown that the surest path to incredible success is by surrounding oneself with strong staff members. No one can excel in every aspect of business or life.

As we strive to overcome our obstacles to success in family, career, and our personal lives, we can make greater strides by including our spouses, our extended families, and our supportive friends in our efforts. We can run our ideas past them. We can rest our weary heads on their shoulders when the storms deliver more heavy snow than we are prepared to handle alone.

We also gain strength when we share our associates’ heavy burdens. We all go through tough patches. Our associates help us through ours and we help them past their’s. The exercise of sharing the burdens of others helps us build our own muscles. This practice helps us prepare for our own stretches of challenge.

Also, an effective way to network with powerful associates is to participate in conferences and associations. We can gain energy from such groups, and we can discover creative solutions to our challenges.

Professional associations, churches, civic clubs, and mastermind groups will enhance our effectiveness and make our journeys to success richer.

Omaha looks different than it did before the 1997 snow storm. The cooperative trees have flourished—as can we.

Related Quotes

To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart, and to sing it to them when they have forgotten. Thomas Chandler

Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity. Billy Graham

Life is a competition not with others, but with ourselves. We should seek each day to live stronger, better, truer lives; each day to master some weakness of yesterday; each day to repair a mistake; each day to surpass ourselves. David B. Haight

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great. Mark Twain

In God's eyes, nobody is a nobody. We should never lose sight of what we may become and who we are. Marvin J. Ashton

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