Root Access: The Benefits of Gardening for IT Professionals

Many years ago, I read a couple of quotes in Stephen Covey's book, First Things First. He wrote: If there is no gardener there is no garden. This is a powerful statement in that in points out that a garden does not tend itself. You cannot pu...

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Many years ago, I read a couple of quotes in Stephen Covey's book, First Things First. He wrote: If there is no gardener there is no garden. This is a powerful statement in that in points out that a garden does not tend itself. You cannot put a bunch of plants in the ground and walk away. Gardens require frequent care to maintain their appearance. Without care, they become an overgrown mess.

Later on in the book, Covey uses a farmer analogy to illustrate the importance of prioritizing and managing time effectively. He argues that, just like a farmer can't neglect their fields all summer and expect a bountiful harvest in the fall, we can't neglect important tasks and relationships in our lives and expect to achieve our goals. The important part of this is that you can't cram a growing season into a couple of weeks. Plants have their own timetable that can't be forced. Similarly, IT requires a great deal of analysis, research, planning, and preparation before introducing change into a system on which so many people rely.

I have recently discovered gardening, which has surprised me with how methodical it requires you to be. I noticed that gardening requires vision to guide your work. But gardening also requires little daily routines that are not greatly impactful in themselves, yet they contribute to long term success. Most importantly, and this is the key, I realized that plants have a life cycle in the same way that certain aspects of IT have life cycles. For optimum results, you need to dedicate the time and resources needed. Otherwise, you won't get the best results.

In this blog post, we explore some parallels between gardening and IT work, two fields that at first glance may seem worlds apart. The principles of planning, execution, patience, resilience, and reaping rewards apply equally to both, offering valuable lessons for IT professionals.

Just as a gardener carefully plans their garden, considering factors like season, sun exposure, soil type, and watering schedule, so too must an IT professional meticulously plan their projects in advance. This includes considering factors like the organization's needs, the capabilities of the technology used, and potential challenges that may arise.

In the execution phase, both gardeners and IT professionals need to be diligent and thorough. A gardener nurtures their plants, ensuring they have what they need to grow and thrive. Similarly, an IT professional must implement their plans with care, thoroughly testing and monitoring their systems to ensure they function as intended.

Patience is a virtue in both gardening and IT. Just as a gardener must wait for seeds to germinate and plants to grow, IT professionals often need to wait for code to be tested, systems to be deployed, and user feedback to be received. This patience can lead to more robust and effective systems in the long run.

Resilience and adaptability are also crucial in both fields. Gardens can be affected by a wide range of problems, from pests to weather conditions, and gardeners must be ready to troubleshoot and adapt their strategies accordingly. Likewise, IT systems can face a host of unexpected issues, and IT professionals must have the skills and knowledge to troubleshoot, adapt, and learn from these challenges.

Finally, both gardening and IT work offer the potential for significant rewards. A well-tended garden can yield a bountiful harvest, while a well-designed and implemented IT solution can bring substantial benefits to an organization. In both cases, the quality of the results is directly related to the effort and care put into the work.

In conclusion, the principles of gardening offer valuable insights for IT professionals. By applying these principles to their work, they can improve their effectiveness, resilience, and satisfaction in their roles. So why not try your hand at gardening? It might just make you a better IT professional.


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