What's Your Taproot?

taproot small

Regardless of the season, your career needs Nourishment

Have you ever thought about where your career nourishment comes from? That part of what you do that gives you an amazing feeling of success and accomplishment? The part of your responsibilities that make work feel like you are going to fun and leaves you feeling proud of what you are contributing?

I hope you have. Because by thinking about these questions, and answering them, you will enable yourself to better see and experience your edge.

I've come to describe it as something like the root system of a young tree that is maturing and growing over time. I'd like to tell you a story of a career, as if it were a tree.

When I graduated from college and began my career I was little more than a seedling and a very young tree. I wanted to line up with the bigger more established trees, but I was told I wasn't ready. My trunk was small, my bark was thin, my limbs spindly, flexible and not suitable for climbing. My root ball was small and round. It was easy to plant me just about anywhere, and I relied on others to assist and nourish me. I even needed some support stakes and wires to make ensure I didn't tilt when winds blew. I certainly didn't cast much of a shadow back in 1975 when this all started.

Over the years, without much notice or fanfare, I started to grow in the spot where I was planted. The small root ball of marketing experience was expanding and reaching out to all sides. It was forming a foundation that allowed my stature to grow and my limbs to strengthen... increasing my shadows presence over more ground.

After being carefully transplanted a time or two, my root system was becoming more massive. One particular root, the taproot that continued down from my trunk and penetrated the soil most deeply, was taking shape. It was pulling out the nourishment I needed to sustain my passion for marketing, advertising, communications, and all the rest.

Above ground, my limbs were stretching out and growing. Some continued to hold up the organizations brand promise and cast familiar marketing shadows. Others took on the needs of merchandising, sales, business development, and product management. After 35 years of growing, the trunk of the tree was large, strong and protected with a thick and resilient bark that showed the scars that come with learning hard, yet valuable lessons.
And that's what people saw.
But below the surface, invisible to everyone was the trees taproot. The root that sustatined the trees posture, presence and vitality. It had grown deeply into the rich career soil and had balanced the tree as it took on new responsibilities and faced strong and challenging storms.
Everyone knows that it takes more than one root to sustain a great tree. The same is true in this story. The entire root system was essential for the tree to diversify and grow in value.
And still, when I step out of the story and look at the tree I just described I know that what I see is me. An executive, proud of my ability to effectively lead multiple departments and strategic initiatives, and at the same time recognizing where my real source of energy comes from.
My career taproot is marketing. Connecting the wants and needs of people in the community with the reasons a company exists. Knowing that, and understanding where my source of energy and fulfillment comes from, has made the difference in my career... a major part of my life.
What's your taproot?

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The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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