A number of years ago I took a road trip up the California coast. I’d heard and read about Coastal Redwood trees and I’d seen numerous pictures of them. I’d seen a picture of a tree so big in diameter you could drive a car through it – and in fact, redwoods can have a diameter of up to 22 feet and can weigh over a million and a half pounds. All the facts I’d heard and the pictures I’d seen couldn’t prepare me for the majesty, the power, and the sheer immensity of my first experience in a redwood forest. I remember pulling to the side of the road and even though it was snowing gently, I got out of the car and just stood in silence – trying my best to absorb the magnificence of the sight. I felt I was standing on sacred ground.
Redwoods are the tallest plant species on earth – the very tallest tree measuring 367 feet. Lets put that into perspective. Imagine a 35-story skyscraper or a football field tipped up on one end and you’ll begin to get an inkling of the awe one feels when standing in a redwood forest. Redwoods are not only the tallest living things on the earth – they are also the oldest. The average life expectancy of a redwood tree is six centuries, although a count of growth rings on one particular specimen revealed the tree was 2,200 years old! Fossils indicate that redwoods have been around for about twenty million years. Redwoods are older than the Rocky Mountains!
The reason redwoods grow to be this tall and live for centuries is still somewhat a mystery but as I researched this phenomenon, I believe I found some clues…
Interestingly, the root systems of redwoods are very shallow. The roots grow no deeper than about ten feet and yet they support a tree that is the height of a football field. It seems impossible but in reality, the roots of the redwood tree graft and interlock with the systems of the trees surrounding it, creating a vast interlocking root platform. This prevents the toppling of even the tallest and most massive trees when soil layers become fully saturated and soggy during prolonged flooding.
The redwoods’ ability to out-compete other trees through rapid growth has been a key to their survival. Redwoods literally race for the sun – growing up to two feet a year in order the get the light they need to survive.
Another successful strategy is their dependence on fire. Redwoods actually need fire to survive. The bark on the redwoods is very thick – up to twelve inches and contains tannins, chemical that resist burning. As fire sweeps through a redwood forest, it burns other plants and debris, enriching the soil. This provides nutrients for the redwood seeds that by the way, are the size of a tomato seed. Because fire has been so suppressed on public lands for so many years now, few of the seeds have been able to sprout. So, the trees have adapted.
I love the fact that baby redwoods actually sprout from the roots of the parent tree. This is a very common sight in a redwood forest. The baby tree gets its nutrients from the parent tree until it’s root system has spread and intertwined with the root systems of the trees surrounding it.
One more interesting fact, redwoods have their own unique self-watering system. On most mornings the coastal fog condenses on the redwood’s flat, waxy needles. As water builds up, it drips from the needles onto the soil beneath the tree. Amazingly, the root system I explained earlier soaks up the water as it falls.
Redwoods reach their incredible height because they grow very close to each other. Let me repeat that…the only reason redwoods reach their incredible height is because they grow in a redwood forest. Redwoods are always surrounded by other redwoods! Because the 100 plus inches of annual rainfall leaves the soil with few nutrients, the trees rely on each other for their vital nutrients. Only redwoods have the strength to support other redwoods.
Well, can you begin to count all the parallels I can draw from redwoods that relate to building powerful teams in USANA? Let me share a few:
- We must hold onto, support and nurture each other.
- It is easier to build your business fast than to build it slow. Race for the sun.
- Challenge is a good thing. The refiners fire helps us discover who we really are.
- Baby redwoods sprout from parent trees. USANA for all generations!
- Self water. Attend convention, listen to LifeMasters, become a student.
Finally, and perhaps the most important…you never see a redwood standing in an apple orchard. I’ve surrounded myself with giants – people who have mentored me and who have helped support me on this amazing journey. And like a redwood forest, I believe USANA will be around for generations to come.