To quantify excellence is not self-evident. How can we quantify excellence? How can we accurately distinguish excellence from mediocrity and inferiority? To illustrate the method by which to quantify excellence the following passage uses a striking analogy “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit” (Matthew 7:16). Though this is not an attempt to impose religious order to shade the topic, it does offer insight on the method through which to objectively view ourselves and see whether we fit in the class of the excellent, mediocre, or the inferior. The meaning of the passage is simple: the quality of the fruit that a tree bears is a merciless reflection of the quality of the tree. The question that may arise is the following: what of the tree who bears poor fruit that wishes to bear excellent fruit? In the example of the passage, they get thrown into the fire to be burned into eternity, for we all know that trees cannot change without the help of a person trained in the caretaking of such trees. Luckily the same is not true for people, due in no small part to the dignity of choice that we all possess. Unlike trees, we can change the quality of the fruit we bear ourselves. The question remains: how to change from bearing poor fruit to bearing excellent fruit?
One answer to this question would be to bear better fruit. Although the fruit is indeed a reflection of the tree that bears it, this answer does not help with the transformation that needs to occur to go from bearing poor fruit to bearing good fruit. It is important to remember that the fruit is a reflection of the tree and not the other way around. In other words, for the fruit to change, the tree must change first. Once the tree changes, the fruit will reflect the change, whether it be for better or for worse. How do the fruits begin to change to reflect the tree? Nature herself has the answers to these questions. The more useful question is, what must the caretaker of the tree do to entice nature to reflect their work in the fruit of the tree? In answer to this question, this paper was written.
To care for a tree several requirements need to be met, including adequate exposure to sunlight, deep watering, and daily check-ups. The technical requirements are the responsibility of the person who has decided to care for the tree, and they are important. However, all the care, equipment, and advice in the world will be rendered completely useless if the person who cares for the tree does not do it in a disciplined manner, for the tree needs continuous care for nature to work desirably for the tree and the care-taker of the tree. The more diligent, disciplined, excellent, and careful the care-taker is in the nurturing of the tree, the more favorable the tree will be to nature, and the better care nature will take in growing the tree. By the same token, the more negligent, heedless, and sloppy the care-taker of the tree is concerning the nurturing of the tree, the less favorable the tree will be to nature, and the less effort nature will take in the growth of the tree if it manages to grow at all. In other words, whatever the care-taker of the tree puts into the nurturing of the tree is exactly what the caretaker will get out of it.
As human beings, we are blessed with the role of being both the care-taker and the tree, and this role is granted due to the dignity of choice that sets us apart from all other life-forms on Earth. Unlike the tree that bears poor fruit that gets thrown in the fire because it cannot help itself when we bear poor fruit, we can help ourselves. We can change. In the words of the late Jim Rohn “If you change, everything will change for you.” A thinking person may ask: if we can change, why do so many people miserably live their lives? The reason in part is change is caused by the development of new habits, and habits are not easily formed. The second part of the reason is to develop the right habits we must define the objective of the change, and defining success is simultaneously defining failure, which is not easy to face. If a care-taker decides he wants his tree to bear excellent fruit, he must develop the habits of care-takers whose trees develop excellent fruit and adopt the disciplines that they adopt. Should the care-taker neglect these disciplines he will surely see the reflection in the tree, for it is not sufficient to perform the tasks of an excellent care-taker once, twice or any number of times that does not turn the tasks in a sort of habit. Furthermore, if the care-taker does not define what he wants of his tree, the tree will surely grow to be poor if it manages to grow at all, for he has not decided otherwise, nor adopted the disciplines that would ensure the tree’s prosperity. What this care-taker did not understand was that the default of human behavior is neglect, and neglect does not work well with Mother Nature at all.
In brief, the message is clear: to change our fruit, we must change ourselves, for if we change everything around us will change to reflect this. How they change is not the point, we can leave that to a force far greater than ourselves. The principle is that we can achieve anything we can conceive and believe if we adopt the disciplines necessary for its acquisition, and have enough patience to persist until it’s realization.