Are You A Lightning Bolt?

"Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work" - Mark Twain

Picture courtesy of  MRHSfan via

One of my favorite things about summer is the spectacular thunderstorms that roll in off Lake Michigan where I live. There’s nothing like the slow approaching sound of thunder, the darkening thick clouds drifting in, the warm breezes picking up momentum, a smell in the air, and the lightning.  I love to watch Mother Nature’s symphony in the heat of the summer. Every element of a good storm plays their part with the lightning often being the conductor – in more ways than one.

After a strong storm passes through and all is calm, have you ever noticed how healthy and green everything looks in the garden? The air smells fresh and cool. Raindrops glisten like tiny diamonds off plant leaves. If you think that everything looks greener and fresh, it does. You can thank the lightning from the storm for leaving a gift in your garden – nitrogen.

As destructive as lightning can be, it has some magical qualities. Lightning works with rain to clear up the atmosphere of dust, pollen, and other pollutants. A lightning bolt can be 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit releasing up to a billion volts of electricity! All this power produces 100 million tons of nitrogen compounds a year worldwide. The valuable Nitrogen that lightning produces is like a power drink to your garden. Nitrogen is the key nutrient that gives plants their rich green color and leafy growth. It needs to be continually renewed for plants to use it. Nitrogen is like a giant fertilizing machine.

Nitrogen is all around us in the atmosphere but it’s not in a form that plants can readily use. In order to green up and grow plants need Nitrogen at the soil surface or in the dirt in order to take up Nitrogen to grow. This is where lightning comes in.  Our atmosphere is about 79% Nitrogen. When we get a strong storm the lightning provides energy that converts the atmospheric Nitrogen into Nitrogen Oxide which just happens to be the prime ingredient in fertilizer. Once this takes place, the Nitrogen is in a form that plants can absorb and use it to green up and flourish. As with any fertilizer this isn’t an instantaneous process after a lightning storm. The plants still need to draw up the nitrogen from the soil, but the rain does immediately help perk things up.www.myproductivebackyard.wordpress

Next time the storms come rolling in be thankful for the rain but hope for some strong bright lightning bolts of thunder – your plants will love being struck by lightning!

“I seem to be some sort of lightning rod. I really irritate people, you know? I really do. “– Howard Stern

There is no question regarding the power of a single lightning bolt in a turbulent stormy sky.  It has the power to inconvenience, destroy, and yes, even kick start plant growth. As bright and powerful lightning is, it can also be very silent. We know that lightning travels through the atmosphere turning nitrogen into usable Nitrogen Oxide which our landscapes gobble up producing green growth. We don’t see the process, but it’s there and it delivers a punch of growth.

Guess what? Every team has a lightning bolt as well. Is it you?

Team dynamics can really impact productivity and success. Most of us have been catapulted into teams where there is a disconnect or lack of partnering and focus. Some of my experiences still make me cringe to this day. Often the key to changing the negativity and dysfunction of a group is a lightning bolt. The lightning bolt that I am referring to is that one person on a team that has that special “something”. This person is a catalyst for new ideas, change, building consensus, and jump starting people into action. Although we see lightning bolts as dramatic and bold, that’s not always the case with the lightning bolt on your team. Often they are the quietest, steadiest, yet energetic person in the room. Look around you today at work and ask yourself who electrifies your group and has the ability to jump start change. Is it you?

The key drivers of a lightning bolt

·         He or she is the go to person on the team. This person has the knowledge, skills, and guts to jump in and contribute.
·         Not only does a lightning bolt know what others don’t, he jumps on problems and even has a sense where they will pop up. They can smell a problem a mile away.
·         Lightning knows exactly where to strike and is drawn to particular things. Those bolts on your team are equally as decisive and easily make key decisions. Decisiveness is powerful.
·         Are you flexible and open to change? In a storm it’s critical to have the ability to change direction on a dime and go in another direction.
·         The sky is a big place. So must the view be of a kick starter on your team. The ability to see the big picture is critical to leading teams.
·         Lightning is full of electrical charge. To be a lightning bolt, you must be positive.
·         Lightning bolts know how to get people moving and challenge them. They strike to bring out the best in others.
·         They are disruptors. They bring creativity and innovation which can intimidate some people.
·         Key players have the courage to strike and learn from their mistakes.
·         Lightning bolts have strong intellectual firepower - they know when to use it.
·         They have the courage to show their passion in everything that they do.

Next time you are caught in a strong storm at work, peer through the clouds and look for the lightning bolt of energy in the room. Is it you?