Pitching Lessons. Leadership Lessons from the Pitcher Plant.

Photo Courtesy of Sarracenia Northwest

The pitcher plant is a fascinating and unusual plant to say the least.  It grows in very poor soil, but that doesn’t stop it.  It’s been created to gather its nutrition in other places.  It eats things.  Mostly bugs, but pretty much anything that moves and falls into its trap is food.  The leaves are rolled into cones (pitchers) to hold the prey.  Special hairs point inward to to keep the poor creatures from coming out once they’ve fallen in.  At the base of the pitcher awaits a pool of enzymes to slowly digest the victims.  From there, the leaves absorb the soup that’s created by the dissolving dinner, and that is how it makes up for the poor nutrition of the soil it is anchored into.  You would think that this bizarre plant would be found in remote jungles.  Well, it is.  But the species pictured here is quite comfortable growing in the Southeast United States.  Many varieties call the Southeast U.S. home, and at least one variety will grow as far North as Canada.

So, what does this have to do with anything related to technology or leadership?  Well, part of the purpose of this particular post is show you that life lessons can be pulled from almost anywhere.  The lowly pitcher plant can teach us things.  Today I am going to offer up three lessons we can take from this unique plant.

1. The pitcher plant is resourceful. It grows in soil that is so nutritionally poor, most other plants simply cannot grow there.  It thrives in very soggy soil, also a condition that most plants find unacceptable.  It found a niche that other plants wouldn’t fill and it filled it.  Likewise, if we can find an area that others find uncomfortable, we can seize that opportunity.   We may need to adapt ourselves to this new arena, but if others won’t go there, we’ve just eliminated most of the competition.
2. The pitcher plant is patient.  Under the hood that covers the pitcher it secrets a sweet smelling nectar that lures insects to it. This nectar has a paralyzing effect on its prey.  It essentially drugs the hapless victim and it winds up falling from the hood into the deathtrap below.  The pitcher plant isn’t flashy.  It doesn’t scream “Look at me!” in a puffed up self promotion campaign.  It simply sets out the bait and waits.  It knows it has something that its food simply cannot resist.  The strategy works.  Many of the pitchers on the plant become so full that it can’t support the weight any longer and they lie on the ground, full of bugs.
3. The pitcher plant is relentless.  It never quits.  The pitchers are always open for business.  It doesn’t get discouraged when it has been releasing nectar for a while and has no ‘customers’ at the door.  It stays the course and doesn’t give up.  When you know you are on to something that is right, stay with it.

So you see, life lessons are everywhere.  Always be ready to learn from them.  If you stop learning, you stop living and you can never progress further than where you are at the point you stop learning.

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