By Rusty, Tue, 11/28/2023 - 19:22

As we approach Thanksgiving, a time when many of us reflect on our blessings and give thanks for the abundance in our lives, I wanted to share a different perspective on gratitude. While it's easy to be thankful for the good things, the sunny days, and the moments of joy, I believe that true gratitude also includes our ability to appreciate life's challenges in addition to the victories.

Imagine hiking through a valley, surrounded by towering mountains. The path is rugged, and the climb is steep, but as you struggle through, you can't help but look up at those peaks in awe. It's the challenging work of the climb that makes the mountain views that much more beautiful. This analogy holds true in life as well.

One of those valleys for me was on my journey to fatherhood. The path included six years of grappling with the emotional rollercoaster of infertility—marked by prolonged waits,  the hopefulness of positive pregnancy tests, anxious doctor visits, and the crushing heartache of loss. Those days stand as some of the most emotionally taxing moments in my life. Even now, as I write about them, the emotions resurface.

However, all of the pain made my gratitude of finally becoming a father immeasurable. I am thankful for the journey, not just the end result. 

I recently came across Jocko Willink's talk about the concept of "good." He discusses how we often label experiences as "good" or "bad" in the moment, but it's often the "bad" experiences that lead to growth and greater appreciation for the "good" in the long run. It's a powerful reminder that life's challenges are not obstacles; they are opportunities for growth and a deeper sense of gratitude.

So, this Thanksgiving, let's not only be thankful for the obvious blessings, but also for the valleys we've travelled through and the strength they've given us to appreciate the mountain tops. True gratitude is born not just from the good times, but from the entirety of our life's journey.

2023-november-rustys-corner-hero image.jpg
By Rusty, Mon, 10/23/2023 - 18:41

One of The Master's Core Values is "Own it," emphasizing the importance of treating tasks, equipment, and even mishaps like an owner. Think about how differently you might drive a rental car compared to your own vehicle as a simple example.

While the ownership mentality is valuable, I'd like to introduce the idea of stewardship, which has challenged me a little more than even ownership.

The definition of Stewardship is the careful management of something entrusted to your care.

Whether that's in relation to time, money,  family, business, or even natural resources - I want to steward all of those well. 

The most obvious is time - I don't and can't own it, because it comes and goes without my direction. Most times, it goes much faster than I could want, reminding me I'm not an owner of time, but merely a steward of the little bit I'm entrusted with. 

While my 6-year-old son currently relies on my guidance, it's crucial to recognize that his future isn't entirely dependent on me. As he continues to grow, from now until he is a young adult, he'll make more decisions independently, beyond my control. I have no desire to assert ownership over him or his future.

Instead, I've been entrusted with the responsibility of caring for and guiding him, with the task of preparing him for his unique path to success. We've all observed instances where parents attempt to live vicariously through their children, pursuing their own desired life through them.

The Master's Lawn Care, a business turning 20 years old this spring, was named in such a way that I would always remember it's about something larger than myself. Contrary to popular belief, the name is not alluding to the Golf tournament or being a Master Gardener. It's a personal reminder that I'm not the owner - but a steward. 

At some point, the hope is that The Master's impact for the clients, team, and our community will far outlive my time of stewardship.

This concept has the potential to resonate in many aspects of life, including marriage, finances, and your positions of influence.

So, I leave you with a couple questions: Where might embracing stewardship in your life become a catalyst for change?

Is there something you're currently clinging to as an owner, instead of a steward?

2023-october-rustys-corner_hero image.jpg
By Rusty, Tue, 09/19/2023 - 18:53

Life's most profound treasures often lie in the lessons we learn along the way. In our fast-paced world, it's easy to get caught up in the daily grind and overlook the immense value of continuous growth and learning. This month, let's pause and reflect on what it means to be a lifelong learner and how this mindset can enrich our lives.

For me, the pursuit of knowledge is a journey that lasts a lifetime, and I've taken several tangible steps to make lifelong learning an integral part of my life:

  • Attending Conferences: Regularly participating in conferences not only expands my professional knowledge, but also inspires me to continue growing and improving. The exchange of ideas and the thrill of discovery at these events fuel my passion for learning. Whether business, religious, or personal conferences - they always motivate me to do better.
  • Connecting with Like-Minded People: I've joined various peer groups and networks, enabling continuous growth. These connections provide a platform to share insights, challenge one another, and foster a sense of community. The Rule of Five is a proven fact.
  • Exploring New Hobbies: In the past, it has been training to become a private pilot, a scuba diver, or more recently, starting CrossFit. The last one is very much still a work in progress - as my coaches can attest. Each new endeavor stretches my abilities, teaches me perseverance, and adds a rewarding dimension to my life.
  • Diving into Compelling Books: I've made reading a daily habit, focusing on books about everything from faith to accounting, parenting to personal habit improvement, politics to leadership, and much more. These subjects have become gateways to growth, inspiration, and positive change in my life.

These actionable steps have not only opened doors to new horizons but also fostered curiosity, understanding, and wisdom. The more I engage with the world around me, the more enriched my life becomes.

The benefits of embracing lifelong learning extend far beyond professional success. They reach into the very core of who we are, enhancing our relationships, boosting our confidence, and helping us navigate life with insight and empathy.

You might be wondering about empathy - how does it tie in? When you engage in learning something new, it serves as a gentle nudge to practice patience with others who may also be in the process of learning, whether it's a student driver or new co-worker.

In an ever-changing world, lifelong learning stands as a beacon guiding us towards personal growth and fulfillment. Where are you learning right now?

By Rusty, Tue, 07/25/2023 - 19:32

As the warm summer winds down over the next couple weeks, I find myself reflecting during a cherished tradition that has pause and insight into my summer routine. 

When my son was born, a close friend shared a tradition he did for his children that I have embraced and taken as my own. Every year, on Griffin's (my 6-year old son's) birthday, I take the time to write him a letter, reflecting on the past year.

These letters document his growth, milestones, and challenges he faced, creating a long list of memories that he will receive on his 18th birthday. Surprisingly, in spite of being meant to be a gift for my son celebrating his progress into adulthood, it has turned out to be more of a gift for myself of reflection and pause.

As a business owner in the green industry, life can become a whirlwind of activity during the summer season. Between increased lawn and plant growth, rising pest and weed pressures, navigating the Florida heat, and managing the normal demands of business, it gets challenging. In the industry, it's even been nicknamed as the 'hundred days of hell' referencing the 3 months of summer. 

Then, additionally, the typical summer challenges of school being out, summer camps, and travel can just pile on the stress. It gets really easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. 

But these annual letters have a way of grounding me, compelling me to slow down and relive the precious family memories we've created over the previous year. The act of penning these letters forces me to pause and contemplate the journey we have undertaken as a family. 

These letters remind me every summer that time passes swiftly and the little moments we often take for granted are the ones that shape us the most.

Moreover, this tradition of reflection carries over to my role as a business leader as well. As I relive the impact my decisions have on Griffin, I'm reminded of the profound impact we all have on those around us - our team members, clients, vendors, and community as a whole.

The choices we make today ripple into the future. It's a profound realization that guides me to be more mindful of the  legacy I am leaving behind.

Now, as the end of summer approaches, I am filled with gratitude for the moments of respite it offers. Amidst the hectic schedule of summer; it's essential to pause, step back, and appreciate how far we've come.

The end of summer encourages us to reflect on the growth we've experienced, the memories we've made, and the steps we need to take for the future.

So, as I complete my annual letter of looking back, I extend an invitation to each of you to find moments of reflection in your lives.

Whether you're a parent, a business owner, or someone seeking purpose, taking time to look back and plan ahead can infuse your journey with deeper meaning and intentionality.

Create A Great Day,

Rusty Thompson

2023-july-rustys-corner_hero image.png
By Rusty, Tue, 05/23/2023 - 18:55

Ever since ChatGPT was introduced, it has sparked a lot of debate and interest. Some people are genuinely thrilled about artificial intelligence’s potential to enhance our lives. On the other hand, there are valid concerns about the risks associated with this technology. 

The more I’ve played with the tool, the more I’ve noticed a parallel principle between getting the best feedback out of artificial intelligence and getting helpful answers from our own intelligence as well.

That parallel in both forms of intelligence is that the quality of our questions determines the quality of our answers. 

For artificial intelligence like ChatGPT, the way we phrase our questions significantly impacts the accuracy of the responses we receive. By carefully wording the questions, we can guide the AI towards providing more helpful and meaningful information. 

An example could be asking, “How can I improve my speech” as opposed to asking “Provide tips and tricks on improving my speaking and presentation skills for a public demonstration that is only two weeks away.”

Vision. Detail. Clarity.

The interesting parallel is that the same can be said of our self-directed questions, as well. When we have clarity in the questions we ask ourselves, it's like flicking on a bright light that shines the way into our thoughts and emotions.

It's pretty amazing how asking the right questions can help us go deeper, gain fresh perspectives, and really get to know ourselves on a whole new level.

For instance, asking ourselves, “Why is this happening to me?” in a challenging circumstance is natural. However, asking “What can I do to improve this situation?” empowers us to take action and find actual solutions.

Similarly, shifting from “When is John going to learn to….” to asking, “How can I help John learn to…” opens the door to being part of the answer rather than just stating the fact that there’s a problem.

Both sets of questions can be asked in similar circumstances, but each leads to very different outcomes. 

Whether we’re dealing with Artificial or our own personal Intelligence, remembering that the quality of our questions determines the quality of our answers is an essential nugget of wisdom to keep in mind. It's like having a secret superpower that can make all the difference in how we learn, understand, and make decisions.

By Rusty, Thu, 04/20/2023 - 22:11

Every morning, as I stare at the man in the mirror, I'm faced with a gap that I’m not necessarily proud of. That gap is the space between the person I aspire to be and the flawed person staring back at me.

Some days, that gap is barely noticeable, but on others, it can feel as wide as the Grand Canyon.

I may have fallen short that day in my role as a husband, father, employer, or as simple as my workout. I may have made mistakes, lost my temper, or just failed to meet my own expectations of myself. It's in those moments that guilt, frustration, and even shame can creep in, and I question whether I am truly living up to my own standards.

However, I've learned that I am not alone in this struggle. The more transparent I am about it with others, the more I realize that many people experience the same internal battle. It's a reminder that we are all humans, and no one is perfect. We all have a gap between our ideals and our reality. It's not that the gap is there; it's how we choose to fill that gap that makes the difference.

I've come to realize that dwelling in frustration or guilt doesn't lead to growth or positive change. It only weighs me down and hinders my actions to narrow that gap. Instead, I choose to fill that gap with renewed energy to try again tomorrow. I use it as an opportunity for self-reflection, learning, and growth. I acknowledge my mistakes and shortcomings, and I strive to make amends, improve my actions, and align them with my ideals. I seek forgiveness and extend grace to myself and others, knowing that we are all on a journey of growth and transformation.

Whether it's through trusted friends, business mentors, my church’s community group, or prayer, having a support system can help us navigate the challenges of bridging the gap between our ideals and our reality.

In short, I've come to realize that what matters is not that there is a gap, but how I choose to bridge the gap. I choose to fill it with grace, a community of support, a commitment to do better, and renewed focus and energy.

What do you fill your gap with?

2023-april-rustys-corner-hero_hero image.png
By Rusty, Mon, 03/20/2023 - 19:08

As a landscape business owner, I have spent years working with plants and trees, studying their growth patterns, and learning how to optimize their health and beauty. However, I have come to realize that pruning is not just a crucial practice for trees and plants, but it is also a valuable lesson in leadership and life in general.

Pruning is an essential task for maintaining the health and beauty of a garden, but it is much more than just randomly trimming branches. It involves a long-term vision, cutting back unhealthy or unproductive branches, and then even cutting back healthy portions to for the long-term goal.

  1. Long-Term Vision

Just as our landscape technicians need to have a clear vision of what they want the plant to look like, a leader needs to have a clear picture of what they want long-term from their life. Having a long-term vision means knowing where you want to be in 3,5,or 10 years and working towards that goal with every cut. This involves making intentional decisions about what you need to do to get there, including what commitments to prioritize and what to let go of.

  1. Pruning Unhealthy Branches

Pruning unhealthy branches is crucial for the growth and health of any plant. Similarly, in life, we need to remove unhealthy commitments that drain our energy and resources, preventing us from reaching our long-term vision. It can be hard to let go of things that are familiar, comfortable, or enjoyable, but we must prioritize our long-term goals and take the necessary steps to achieve them.

In my past, this has involved pruning habits, hobbies, and even certain friend groups. The good news is that the clearer the long-term vision you have of where you want to go, the more these choices become obvious roadblocks standing in your way. 

  1. Pruning the Healthy Branches 

Sometimes, the hardest part isn’t creating the vision or pruning the unhealthy branches away - but pruning healthy branches seems counter-intuitive. Sometimes, we even have good commitments that are not aligned with our long-term vision. We must recognize that it's okay to let go of these commitments and activities, even if they are not harmful or negative. 

Jim Collins says that “Good is the enemy of great.” What he means by that is when your calendar is filled with “good” things, there will be no room for greatness.  Pruning out healthy branches that won't lead to your vision is not a no forever; but it is a no for now. For any worthy long-term goal, we will need to prioritize our time and energy on what's essential and let go of the things that don't take us where we need to go.

In Conclusion

The goal of pruning is not to leave the tree as-is; it is to create a better future. Pruning allows us to prioritize our energy and resources into fewer overall branches, leading to an improved future that mirrors our long-term vision. Having a long-term vision, pruning unhealthy branches, and pruning out healthy branches that won't lead to your vision are essential steps in creating a better future. Remember, just as pruning a plant is necessary for its growth and health, pruning in life is crucial for our personal and professional growth.

By Rusty, Tue, 02/21/2023 - 19:10

As a big fan of "Yellowstone," I've spent far more hours than I care to admit watching the story about the Dutton ranch. It's a fascinating look into the world of high-stakes ranching, politics, and family dynamics. But as someone who's also interested in leadership insights, I've found that the show offers some valuable wisdom on the topic. Here are three takeaways I've gleaned about leadership from "Yellowstone."

Lesson #1: Balancing leadership and friendship can be tricky

In season 3, there's a scene where John Dutton tells his son Kayce, "I never had much luck leading men and being their friend." This quote really stuck with me because it highlights the difficult balance that leaders often face. On one hand, you need to be able to earn the trust and respect of your team, which can be challenging if you don't have a strong rapport with them. On the other hand, you also need to be able to make tough decisions and hold people accountable, which can strain even the closest of relationships. Finding the right balance between leadership and friendship is critical for success, but it's not always easy.

I learned this the hard way early on in my professional career. I became close friends with a direct-report, and that allowed me to put off difficult conversations about his job performance. As a result, entitlement slipped into the organization, and I ultimately lost both a close friend and a previously solid team member.

Lesson #2: Live Up to Your Brand

The Dutton family takes great pride in their ranch and brand. John tells his son, “A brand isn't something you earn, it's something you live up to.” This quote highlights that a brand, whether it's personal or organizational, is a reflection of the values and reputation that you have built over time.

As a leader, you need to understand that your personal brand is a key part of your identity, and it can be an incredibly powerful asset if you cultivate it carefully. Living up to your brand means being consistent in your actions, your words, and your behavior. It means showing up every day with the same level of passion,  dedication, professionalism, and integrity that you expect from others. Ultimately, the lesson of "Yellowstone" is that a brand is more than just a logo or name. It's a reflection of who you are and what you stand for.

By living up to your brand, you can earn the trust and respect of others and build a legacy that carries on long after you're gone.

Lesson #3: The Law of the Harvest

The slow and methodical pace is one of the things that stands out most about the ranching lifestyle. When it comes to farming or ranching, you can't rush it, and the same principle applies to leadership.

You can cram for an exam or put in extra hours to meet a deadline, but when it comes to leading people, there are no shortcuts. Developing a team, building trust, and creating a strong culture take intentional action and effort over a long period of time. As a leader, you need to plant the seeds of success and then patiently nurture them, waiting for the right time to harvest the rewards. This "Law of the Harvest" is a powerful reminder that effective leadership is a perpetual, long-term game - not a quick fix.

In our on-demand culture of Amazon Prime and Get Rich Quick schemes, patience appears to be a lost art. A few years ago, I wrote about Jocko Willink's quote, "Discipline Equals Freedom," and that quote reminds me so much of the importance of patience in leadership. 

When I look back at the times when my lack of discipline to be patient has cost me both in influence and dollars, I realize just how crucial this quality is in leadership and in life.

In conclusion, "Yellowstone" is much more than just a TV show, and that helps me feel better about the countless hours I've spent watching it as "learning" purposes. The show offers a wealth of insights into leadership, and these three lessons from the Dutton family are just the tip of the iceberg. As a fan of the show and a student of leadership, I find these lessons to be incredibly valuable and inspiring, and I'm excited to continue investing time watching Yellowstone, 1883, and 1923.

By Rusty, Tue, 01/24/2023 - 18:07

This time of year is typically all about resolutions or goals, as my team and I set milestones we hope to achieve this year. In preparation for the new year, we also review last year’s goals and analyze what we did well and what we could have done differently, as we set action steps to move us into the next season. 

How can we improve A
How do we reduce B?
Why did we stop C?
You know the drill.

However, after several years of writing about goals, this year I wanted to focus on a tool I found a year ago that had a profound impact on me and a peer group that I’m a member of. 

Last year, a mentor mentioned the impact of writing a letter to your future self and writing about things you hope will be true when you open that email. 

Although any time frame can be used, I used 1 year in advance for my letter.

I started out with the things you will not be surprised with if you’ve read my corner for long—goals I wanted to have hit and habits I wanted to have kept/quit, — but it also led me somewhere I don’t go very often.


Ever tried to journal? I’ve heard of many that use it as such a great tool for self-analysis, but I’ve never committed to it long enough to really develop the skill.

However, this act led me deeper than any journaling prompt I have ever tried.

As I put myself in the shoes of my one-year-older self and opened this letter, I realized some unavoidable truths that weren’t so clear until I took a moment to fast-forward time.

Some were about my family. Some were about my faith. Some were about memories I wanted to create. 

Most of all, it led me to look at things from a different vantage point than I had ever considered.

Writing a letter to your future self can be a powerful tool, and I will use it much more regularly from now on. The act of putting your thoughts, feelings, and aspirations onto paper can help you clarify your values, identify your priorities, and create a sense of accountability to your future - of which no one has more interest in than you.

For more information, or to use the tool I used, visit It’s a free service that is worth every moment you put into it. 

By Rusty, Thu, 12/22/2022 - 18:31

Does Christmas ever get messy with your family?

Maybe you have that sibling that’s a black sheep….or that in-law with the backwards politics….or that cousin who is just hard to be around...

Most of us have that family gathering over the holidays where we can’t help but find ourselves looking at our watch counting the minutes till we can leave because of that person.

Almost every family has that person who makes the holidays…well…messy.

Whether the messy comes from a topic as polarizing as politics, as unimportant as football teams, as pivotal as major life choices, or as simple as arriving on time - when I’m honest with myself, it all comes back to a choice I’ve made, and a choice I’m not proud of.

It’s generally me choosing to not give grace - grace that’s been so abundantly given to me.

When I really pull back the curtain further, it’s me projecting my perceptions and preferences onto another person. And not just anyone either - a family member.

Grace is going out of the way to give compassion and kindness to someone -  even if they don’t deserve, appreciate, or return it. It’s also something I need a lot of - because my list of mistakes is LONG. Just ask my wife!

When it gets messy this holiday season, here’s to giving a gift that no one will open, but everyone should feel: Grace.

Here's to a Merry - not messy- Christmas.