Leadership Lesson’s I’m Thankful For…#2

Recently, my family came back from a trip to Yellowstone National Park.

The park is simply amazing in it’s beauty, vastness, and grandeur. It was so interesting to visit the famous landmarks, like the mud pots, the grand prismatic geysers, and namely the Old Faithful geyser. However, one of the biggest lessons we learned inside Yellowstone almost happened by accident, as we were driving our way through the park.

In fact, the lesson was all around us and yet, unless someone had pointed it out to our group, we most certainly would have missed it. This lesson comes from the Lodgepole Pine Tree. See back in 1988, there was a massive fire in Yellowstone which covered a significant amount of the park. The fire raged, thousands of trees were lost, and everyone thought the forest was gone. However, when you drive through today, you now see thousands of lodgepole pine trees. How did this happen? Well, here is what researchers discovered:

Lodgepole pine trees are created to have pine cones on them that are shut tight with an impenetrable glue like mixture. Because of this resin, the seeds are locked in tight, and cannot be released UNTIL they come into contact with VERY high temperatures–the very type of temperatures that fire provides!

So get this…..in order for lodgepole pine trees to grow, to expand, and to reproduce, they have to go through the fire! I mean, come on!!! What a leadership lesson for us!

In the same way, as much as we try to avoid it, the fires of life help us grow. They strengthen us, they prime us for new life, and they help clear away the junk. And oftentimes, it’s only after we go through the fires of pain, struggle, or hurt, that we are best able to plant seeds in others around us so that they can grow as well.

And listen, as leaders we will all have seasons where we will have to go through the fire. We will be hurt, criticized, and attacked. We will fail, make mistakes, and fumble. We will ALL go through the fire.

And the question for us when the fires rage around us is not,“Why is this happening”, but instead, “What do I need to learn?”

Because maybe, what you need to learn, will be the very thing that will help those around you and those you lead, grow and find new life.

So, the next time you are in a place in your life or leadership where the heat is getting turned up, and life is getting hot…remember that lodgepole pine, and how you too are uniquely created to grow stronger as a result of the fire.  

In fact, looking back on your own leadership journey, how have the fires of life helped you grow?


Brett Detken is a leadership expert and the Director of Marketing for The 4Sight Group. She has led in the local church for the past 20 years, and is a Professor of Business and Leadership.