Banyan Strategics and the Banyan Tree

Life is Best Lived in a Crescendo Community

The Banyan Tree 1Earth is covered with a variety of trees. Each tree is Beautiful and Majestic in its form and purpose. Each has unique qualities, and many are used to symbolize different strengths within people and communities. Forests and trees have held a symbolic meaning in many diverse cultures throughout history.

The Banyan Tree 2The mighty Oak tree is a symbol of endurance, regal power. It is often regarded as wise and humble due to extended age and sturdy appearance. The older leaders of communities are often referred to as ‘mighty as an oak’ because they have known and witnessed many things.

The Aspen tree symbolizes determination and overcoming fears and doubts.  In many communities, it also represents strength. Aspen trees cannot be killed by a fire if the roots remain alive. By human standards, an Aspen colony’s roots are nearly immortal (some estimated to be 80,000 years old)! What will kill an Aspen tree is being in a grove of trees in which they are all relatively the same age. The Aspen tree thrives in light and diversity. The Aspen tree represents strength in diversity for a very good reason. It is the diversity that keeps it alive.  It is also the diversity in a community which must exist for a community to thrive.

The Banyan Tree 3The stately Sequoia or Redwood tree is a symbol of forever, strength, and longevity. How could it be anything different? A Redwood tree can reach over 300 feet in height and live for 3,000 years! Redwoods are practically immune to termites and other pests that is why they are so desirable for building. They help to put immediately into proper perspective our own ‘life pests;’ they help us to look at the bigger picture.

The Banyan Tree 4Our own organization’s symbol is the Banyan tree. What is it about a Banyan tree that causes us to name our work after it? Why wouldn’t we name it after the Oak tree to symbolize wisdom when we work with education? Why not the Aspen tree?  It is the diversity within our schools and the diversity of what is taught in them that causes a school to thrive. And why not the mighty Redwood that symbolizes strength and longevity? Why not any other tree, perhaps one that bears fruit? What attributes does a Banyan tree have in common with a flourishing educational community that attracts us to be represented by it?

The Banyan Tree As a Symbol

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The Banyan tree is native to India. It is an enormous tree with many uses and a long history.  It also has a unique growth pattern: As a young tree grows it sends branches out horizontally away from the main trunk. As these branches develop and become heavier, they must be supported. The tree then drops an aerial root down toward the ground. These become actual roots and then become a secondary trunk to support additional horizontal growth of that limb. That process repeats itself so the tree can achieve tremendous breadth or width. These secondary trunks or prop roots are the Banyan tree’s signature attribute. Banyan trees also provide a wealth of beneficial resources in the form of materials, products, medicine, shelter and ultimately a place for community.

The Banyan Tree 6The “Great Banyan Tree” is a 250-year-old tree that covers about 3.5 acres of land near Calcutta, India. It is the widest tree in the world!  From the distance, the tree has the appearance of a forest. But what appear to be individual trees are actually large aerial roots, around 2,800 of them!

While the Banyan tree is native to India, they exist throughout South Asia. They are often found planted near homes, temples, villages, and roadsides. In those villages, these trees provide a meeting place for the community. People gather here under its cooling shade to relax, engage in conversation and make decisions. In fact, the name ‘banyan’ was given by the merchants from India called ‘Banias.’ The Banias would rest under the trees to discuss their merchant strategies and plans.

The Banyan tree, while historically providing the communal center for trading, religious and educational vitality in many Asian communities,  is ultimately valued for its central role in community life. It is considered sacred and representative of eternal life in many Asian societies. India uses it as the national tree where it’s linked roots and branches are used to symbolize the country’s unity.

The Banyan Tree 7The most beautiful Banyan in the United States was planted on the Hawaiian island of Maui in  April of 1873.  At the time, that it was imported from India it was only 8 feet tall. It now stands over 60 feet high and has 12 major secondary trunks in addition to a huge central trunk. It stretches over a 200-foot area and shades 2/3 of an acre. Caring members of the community carefully maintain the symmetrical shape of the tree. It is one of the largest Indian Banyan trees in the world.

Banyan Strategics

Banyan Strategics was created to provide non-academic support services to Charter Schools, which focus on modeling servant-leadership to their students, parents and community.

Our primary strategy for bringing a dynamic and innovative leadership culture to our client schools is through the proven talent and organizational development principles of Gallup Consulting and Covey Consulting. We assist our schools in implementing the Strengths-based development of staff and students and their consistent engagement in holistic education using the research validated Gallup Path. We also coach our schools to develop a servant-leader driven school culture based on Leader in Me, as developed by Stephen Covey, which implements the timeless principles of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People into everyday usage. Our primary role is to assist our client schools in building a Crescendo Community.

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Creating a Crescendo Community

The Banyan Tree 9Stephen Covey once told a story of living his life in Crescendo – the music concept based on the Italian verb “to gradually grow or to increase.” Great musical compositions utilize Crescendo to greatly influence the emotions of an audience and otherwise convey transitions to greatness.

Stephen Covey was asked once if he was ever going to retire. He told his audience that he didn’t believe in retirement. When he was asked ‘why’ he replied that he has a life motto, “Live Life in Crescendo!”

“Living life in crescendo to me means that my most important work is always ahead of me, never behind me. I believe that “where much is given, much is required.” I have a sacred stewardship to contribute and not to retire to leisure. Also, the greatest way to serve my 50 grandkids is not just to love them and tend to their interests and needs, but to be an example of someone who is constantly making a difference in the world.

“Start living your life in crescendo–and remember your most important work is ahead of you, not behind you! There is so much more to do, to learn and contribute.” – Stephen Covey

Banyan Trees and Covey Leadership

Banyan Strategics melds the best of the Ancient Banyan trees of Asia and Stephen Covey’s valuable contributions throughout the world.

The proven principles and practices that serve as the foundation for Banyan Strategics represent the Banyan tree in its youth. As Strengths-based and servant leadership principles and practices become a heartfelt way of life within our school communities, the strength of our schools’ teachers and their students organically grows without any compulsion or manipulation.

The Banyan Tree 10Banyan Strategics advocacy and modeling of these Strengths-based and servant leadership principles facilitates that organic growth. The continuing growth of Banyan Strategics’ advocacy in schools results in growth challenges where the ‘Banyan tree’ reaches a point in which it’s limbs become so vast that they need the support of ‘aerial roots.’ No single trunk or root holds up the spacious limbs of the growing tree. It takes a collaborative sprouting of ‘aerial roots’ together to support the life of the tree and allow it to continue its growth and to widen its influence for good. The ‘people or ‘roots’ who ultimately support and sustain the Banyan tree come from our communities as well as from within Banyan Strategics. Blessed with a growing core of practitioners that have a heartfelt vision and passion for Strengths-based engagement and servant leadership, Banyan Strategics reflects the self-directed and differentiated growth of all who benefit from the Banyan tree.

Banyan tree advocates or ‘roots’ cannot be just casual, indifferent roots. The people who best contribute to the growth of the Banyan tree, whether within our school communities or Banyan Strategics, are continuously striving to live their lives in Crescendo.

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They are doers and know the power of acting upon faith and trust. They act and are not acted upon. They understand that their most important work lies ahead of them.

The Banyan tree specifically provides a rich and diverse habitat for other organisms to thrive. The Banyan Strategics team strives to practice Strengths-based and servant leadership principles that help others to find their voice, to fulfill the measure of their creation. Their belief in people and each other, their diverse knowledge base and their continual striving to live life in Crescendo is intended to provide a rich and diverse habitat in which others may thrive and grow. Banyan Strategics is built upon the core premise that when people work together to encourage and magnify each others’ strengths we teach not only ourselves, but each other, the power of Crescendo.

Banyan Strategics derives its name from the beneficial, principle role of the Banyan tree in facilitating and supporting many robust organic communities. Banyan trees flourish only when their roots are well placed and well purposed to sustain growth. It is our core belief that enduring, vibrant and high-fulfillment communities only flourish where collaborative, heartfelt engagement in life’s worthy purposes is sought and sustained by valiant, trustworthy people. Life is best lived in a Crescendo Community.

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Definitions for growth:

Crescendo: a steady increase of force or intensity
Community: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes,interests and goals.

1 Servant leadership is an ancient philosophy – one that existed long before Robert Greenleaf coined the phrase in modern times. There are passages that relate to servant leadership in the Tao Te Ching, attributed to Lao-Tzu, who is believed to have lived in China sometime between 570 BC and 490 BCE. Servant leadership is both a leadership philosophy and set of leadership practices. Traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid.” By comparison, the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. Think of Abraham Lincoln. A Servant Leader “builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical combination of personal humility plus professional will.” ~ Jim Collins