Rain In Death Valley

Rain In Death Valley

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There’s a place in California called Death Valley. It is the hottest, driest place in America—300 feet below sea level in fact and nothing grows there. Nothing grows there because it doesn’t rain. The mountains nearby suck up all of the weather so moisture never lands in the valley.

Yet, something curious happened a decade ago. In the winter of 2004, it rained in Death Valley (NBC news story & a video). Seven inches (18cm) of rain fell over a very short period. Great, so it rained in Death Valley—who cares?

Well, in the spring of 2005, there was a phenomenon—the whole floor of Death Valley was carpeted with flowers for a while. Beautiful colors burst from the desert floor—purples, pinks, yellows. People flocked from all over the country to see this curious sight.

What it proved is this: Death Valley isn’t dead. It’s dormant.

Right beneath the surface are these seeds of possibility waiting for the right conditions to come about, and with organic systems, if the conditions are right, life is inevitable.

It happens all the time. You take an area, a business, a city, you change the conditions, give people a different sense of possibility, a different set of expectations, a broader range of opportunities, you cherish and value the relationships between employees and employers, you offer people the discretion to be creative and to innovate in what they do, and organizations that were once bereft spring to life.

Ken Robinson says this in his enlightening talk. He goes on to remark:

"Great leaders know [this]. The real role of leadership…is not and should not be command and control. The real role of leadership is climate control, creating a climate of possibility. And if you do that, people will rise to it and achieve things that you completely did not anticipate and couldn't have expected."

As leaders, we shouldn't seek ultimate control, but climate control. In conjunction, seek to find the people who can help you build this climate. Your organization too may flourish and rise from its dormancy, but only if you cultivate a culture for those who have grown dormant to flourish. If it can rain in Death Valley, we can inspire our teams to flourish.

(photo via c.abbe)