< Back to all Tips< Back to all Better Together Community Events< Back to all Self Improvement Sit Down Interviews
April 24, 2024

Spray Painting Leaves

Listen Now:

I’m going to tell you a story, let me know if this makes sense…

A young boy who takes an interest in nature wants to start a garden. He’s looking forward to the daily care and maintenance. One of the plants he wants to grow is a tomato plant. He digs out a hole in the soil and drops some tomato seeds in. A few months later, after watering it every day, the tomato plant stalk has grown but it’s not growing any tomatoes.

The boy asks his mother - “I’ve been taking care of my tomato plant, watering it every day, but it’s not growing tomatoes, what’s wrong?

She answers “The leaves and branches on the plant are brown, it’ll start producing tomatoes when it’s healthy and green.”

The boy, now understanding the problem, goes to the store, buys some green spray paint, and paints the plant’s leaves and branches green.

In this story it’s obvious to us why that doesn’t work… But where else in our lives are we just “spray painting leaves” rather than addressing the core issue? 

This idea is one of the biggest concerns people have with western medicine and how we’re prescribed pills and treatments to manage symptoms. If we want something to actually change, we need to address the root cause. Related to another plant-inspired metaphor - “You can’t change the fruits without changing the roots.”

If we’re feeling overworked at our job, taking time off temporarily takes the pressure off, but setting better boundaries and expectations with your manager will lead to more sustainable relief. Starting a new exercise routine might work for a while but it will ultimately fail if you don’t redesign your schedule. Telling yourself you’ll be on your phone less is different than setting app restrictions and having accountability.

The easy thing to do is just spray paint the leaves of our life and make things better in the moment. But those of us who desire true, sustainable improvement need to realize that the plant isn’t getting enough water, and we need to change something more significant about our approach.

So the next time you see something that you want to change, ask yourself “What is the easy spray paint solution for this, and what does watering it look like?

More Like This

Learn More!
Subscribe For Daily Emails!
Send Me The Fundamentals!