Are You Stimulating or Stunting GrowthAre your houseplants stunted? Are you limiting their growth by keeping them in a small pot?

BBC Nature reports a fascinating story entitled, “‘Stunted’ Pot Plants Cannot Reach Their Full Potential” from the Society for Experimental Biology’s annual meeting in Salzburg, Austria. Researcher Hendrik Poorter with the Julich Research Centre in Germany found that houseplants “sense the size of the pot” and grow accordingly. As soon as he saw the results of this study he immediately repotted all his plants. “I thought, you poor guys, what have I done to you?”

Poorter and his researchers used MRI scans to see root development and correlated that with plant growth. They found that a plant’s roots quickly stretched out when first planted or repotted. But “when they reach the edge, they sent some kind of signal to the shoots to say, ‘there’s a problem — stop growing.'” Their experiments on 80 different species showed that doubling a pot’s size caused the plant to grow 50% larger. “The surprising thing is that there seemed to be no end to the pot limitation,” Poorter reported.

The same thing happens in leadership and coaching. People respond to the size of their perceived boundaries — real or imagined. Extraordinary coaches help “coachees” endlessly repot themselves and keep growing.

Tomorrow we publish all my February blogs into the March issue of The Leader Letter . Many of these grew out of the audience surveys and questions from our Building Extraordinary Coaching Skills webcast. The issue also includes my blogs on growing our next generation of leaders, Valentine’s Day reflections on love, leadership, and productivity, and a quiz on doubling learner motivation with strengths-based leadership that you can complete to enter a draw for a copy of How to Be Exceptional: Drive Leadership Success by Magnifying Your Strengths.

Gotta run! My poor houseplants need a few coaching sessions to grow their boundaries.