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High Performance: The season of stress

May 12, 2015 -  By
BrokenTreeBranch Image: iStock/Allkindza

Image: iStock/Allkindza

My first spring in the green industry was in 1985. I was a co-assistant manager for a large regional lawn and garden retailer. With only a few months of training under my belt and no prior experience in the green industry, I was completely unprepared for the onslaught of the spring season and the stress it would create.

There have been many changes in the green industry over the course of the last 30 years, but one constant is that the spring brings stress. Stress comes from every angle in the busy season. It’s unavoidable. What is avoidable is the result of stress. In some situations stress is tolerable, while in other situations it causes failure.

Picture a large shade tree with a weak branch and a strong branch. On a windy day, there’s stress on both branches—the exact same amount of stress, in fact. The strong branch tolerates the stress, while the weak branch cracks under pressure. The same thing happens to people and processes when it’s busy and stress is applied. The strong survive, while the weak are unable to handle the stress and fail.

What makes a person or process strong enough to withstand the pressure of the busy season? Experience and preparation are two important factors. Unfortunately, experience requires enduring one or more springs in the business. My first spring was just a blur—a mad scramble every day. As I gained more experience, each spring became easier, more predictable and more fun.

Preparation is the other important factor. In the heat of the battle, those who are prepared stand tall. They may not be unblemished, but they’re in the fight and positioned to be victorious. Those who are unprepared are demoralized or already defeated. Observe any person or company in the green industry during the peak season, and it will be immediately obvious who’s winning and who’s losing.

‘Tis the season of stress. What are you learning this spring that will better prepare you for next spring?

Now go forth.


This article is tagged with and posted in Blog
Phil Harwood

About the Author:

Harwood is a Managing Partner with GrowTheBench and Pro-Motion Consulting. Reach him at He is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager, NALP Trailblazer, NALP Consultant, and Certified Snow Professional. Harwood holds a BA in Marketing and Executive MBA with Honors from Michigan State University.

2 Comments on "High Performance: The season of stress"

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  1. Maddi says:

    What is your definition of fail? You say those who become too overwhelmed become weak and fail. I am just curious what your definition of fail means? Does it mean they quit their job? Go home and cry? pull their hair out? I am just wondering! This is my first year working in a Landscape company and I feel like I am enduring the stress, but I could be failing?

    Good article. So true. Stress season.