I remember a time when I was a young adult and the art work I was doing wasn’t going smoothly. I spoke to fellow artists about it, and my friend Lila said something very wise. She told me to surround myself with beauty and creativity and to look at as many wonderful things as possible. “All I know,” she said, “is that if you put enough in, something good is going to come out.” In the years since I’ve learned that this advice doesn’t just apply to art.

In preparation for several upcoming talks on the promotion of gardening, plants and those in the green industry, I’m reading many business related books. Knowing that everything is connected with everything else, these books ignite sparks of inspiration that I know will be useful to myself as a garden communicator, and to anyone who wants to grow what they are passionate about. I’m putting inspiration in, and connections are made that lead to growth.

Books such as and  are most thought provoking. I’ve enjoyed thinking of the ways that gardening, writing and the horticultural industry at large are connected to ideas and examples in these books. And in the way that everything is linked, a recent email from Moss Mountain has me thinking about Lila’s advice and environments where ideas and intentions can be nourished. In The Human Brand authors Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske begin by talking about how people are hardwired to look to others for warmth and competence. Our ancient ancestors needed to make instant judgements about other Homo sapiens, sizing them up to see if they were an immediate threat. People who projected warmth were probably less likely to do you in, and those that were competent were less likely to bring you down with them, to put it bluntly. Survival of the fittest.

The Human Brand goes on to explain the importance of these qualities in the present day, for businesses as well as individuals; anyone who wants to grow a company or profession is wise to consider these traits and behaviors since we are still, centuries later, responding to others based on the competence and warmth that they project.

Given these books and my thinking about how they apply to those who are growing a business or personal interest,  it’s not surprising that when this graphic arrived from Moss Mountain, I made an immediate connection.

An invitation from Moss Mountain and P. Allen Smith.

An invitation from Moss Mountain and P. Allen Smith.

I can’t think of a better example of both warmth and competence (although he goes way beyond competence) than Allen Smith. Simply and truthfully stated, he does it up right. He and James Sumpter have created a first class, gracious environment and operation at Moss Mountain. It is the perfect setting for any business that seeks a place to cultivate the qualities of warmth and competence, not to mention excellence, in their employees or their company as a whole. To be at Moss Mountain is to be steeped in beauty and generosity along with thoughtfulness and an understanding of the ways that business and a congenial life are linked.

Not everyone can afford to bring their group down to Little Rock for a meeting/retreat at Moss Mountain of course. Yet we can all remember that when we want to cultivate particular behaviors, values or talents in our lives, it makes sense to put ourselves in the environment where such characteristics permeate the surroundings. If you put enough in, something good is bound to come out. And since I am a garden geek, after all, I do believe that the perfect place to grow beauty, abundance, and other life-affirming qualities is in a garden. Be it your own landscape or the lush splendor of Moss Mountain, life, business, and creativity (not to mention warmth and competence)  are all nourished and connected in the garden.

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