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Submitted by Craig Campbell. 2014 PRSA-MD President

“Mary, Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row.”

This is an old nursery rhyme and trust me, you do not want to check into its origins. But at this time of year when gardening is in the forefront it is appropriate to the thoughts I wish to present.

As I look out at my raised strawberry bed and my scraggly looking, but promising, raspberry and boysenberry canes, I look forward to a bountiful harvest.

My question to you is “How does your PR garden grow?”

Is it dormant? Is it full of weeds and old plants that need to be cleared out? Is it dying? Or, is it thriving, producing plenty of blossoms, with the promise of a good harvest if given the necessary attention and care?

The difference is up to you.

Most people are pretty good about initially weeding gardens, and they get the ground prepared, seeds planted and everything goes well until shortly after the first sprouts appear. That’s when life gets in the way.

As with gardens, in our careers, we often do very well preparing our ground, planting seeds and the initial removal of old plants, debris and weeds. We have all the best garden (career) tools and skills, the future looks bright, and then life gets in the way.

As with a great vegetable garden, to use an old cliché, “an ounce of prevention prevents a pound of cure.” To maintain a great garden, all that is necessary (unless you have a huge garden) is about 30 minutes of care every other day, or 15 minutes every day. That is plenty of time to keep the garden weed free, well watered and well fed.

One year I planted a larger garden and everything was going well. The green beans and corn had reached a height of six inches before the first weeds appeared. I kept up with it using just 10-15 minutes a day. Then my workload got heavy and I was gone before sunup and home after dark. My two older children promised to tend the garden for me.

Three weeks later when I had a chance to look at the garden, it was apparent that they had not. Weeds were thick and more than 18 inches tall, smothering out the corn and green beans. I managed to recoup some of the garden and we got a smallish harvest.

I do not blame my son and daughter. It was my garden and my responsibility. So it is with our careers. It’s your career and your responsibility.

We prepare by getting an education and the rudimentary skills. We plant by starting out as an assistant or on the first rung of the ladder and as we gain stronger skills, solid experience and build networks our PR garden grows stronger and healthier.

However, we need to give our careers constant care, daily and weekly weeding and feeding. Sometimes we need to thin out the plants. In other words we need to weed out those character traits, habits and activities that hold us back.

Too often we have too much to do. All of it good, but no way to get it all done. This is where we need to thin out the plants. Keep the “best” plants, the best skills, talents and activities. And as painful as it may be, leave the good and better activities and demands for your time behind while focusing on the best.

I promise you that you can only reap the best if you give your best; besides, the best things in your life and career will more than take up the available time you have.

Do you want to get ahead, then 20 or even 10 hours of television and movie watching a week isn’t going to cut it, and video games hour-after-hour are not the choice of the highly successful. Even social media, taken to extremes, will become a roadblock in your journey to success.

Bluntly put, to be successful with life, your family and your career (and with a garden) you don’t have time for anything that is a distraction and takes you away from your best efforts.

And, just as with my berry canes—I need to remove last year’s canes to make way for this year’s growth—so in our careers, we need to keep up with new methods. What produced success for us five or 10 years ago, or even last year, may need to be removed and replaced with new skills, talents and activities if we want to have a great PR garden.

So, how does your PR garden grow? …It’s your choice; it’s up to you.

Your servant,

Craig Campbell
PRSA-Maryland 2014 President

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