May 15, 2008
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director

Years ago (as a college student) I was sitting outside the library contemplating what I was going to do in life. At the time the future looked very cloudy. As a high school student, I thought I wanted to become a musician. Reality began to set in after trying it out for a year. I then enrolled in the Landscape program at Humber College. I did not have clue about the landscape industry. My girlfriend’s father happened to be the sales representative for Ball-Superior (a major supplier of seed to the horticultural trades) and I happened to glance at some seed catalogues. The only reason I chose the landscape program was because I was attracted to the pretty pictures. After one year of college, I was beginning to have second thoughts. Was this really a career I would enjoy? Have I made the right choice? Will I be able for find suitable employment? At that apprehensive and unsettling moment I had an epiphany: Make a choice and then choose to do well. What I discovered by accident is that we have the ability to respond and make choices, no matter what conditions you find yourself in.

Sounds like a simple discovery, but it sure changed my direction.

We all have the ability to choose and respond to our conditions, no matter how bad or good they are. We all have the power and freedom to make positive choices. Unfortunately we also have the power and freedom to choose the negative. But even the consequences of negative choices can be reversed through the ability, freedom and power to choose again.

I find this simple truth so enriching. You might not be able to change a “client from hell,” or the callous bank manager, but you sure have the ability to choose your response. We have power to make huge positive changes in society by looking in the mirror and making the right personal choices in any given circumstance. It is always up to us to make the change we want. We have the freedom to choose our response.

A remarkable story

Last month I came across a little book called Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. Frankl had a promising career as a psychiatrist when World War II broke out, and he found himself in a concentration camp. His world was turned upside down. He lost his wife and family. He was subjected to horrific conditions where starvation, death and suicide were part of daily life. The book is a chronicle of his life and observations. He marvelled at how even under such terrible conditions, with total lack of freedom, many chose to respond in ways that inspired hope and meaning. They had the power and freedom to choose their response — even in the concentration camps. This is a remarkable story. After reading the book I performed a Google search of “Victor Frankl” and found some video clips of his lectures. In one clip he was explaining what he had learned when, at the age of 65, he decided to take flying lessons. His instructor told him that in order to reach the desired destination it was necessary to chart a course that accounted for weather and wind. In other words, a direct course would not reach the desired destination. The pilot was required to aim beyond the destination in order to reach it. He then related this to his own work as a psychiatrist. In order to help people he had to help them see the meaning and significance of life by showing them they have the power to make choices that would get them to desired health.

So what does all this have to do with the landscape industry?

Our association community has benefited from the many members who have made a choice to help improve each other’s knowledge, competence, professionalism, prosperity and public trust.

LO is comprised of many members who are daily enhancing people’s lives through their work and positive interactions. Let’s keep improving quality of life by looking in the mirror and making the right choices.

Have a great season!
Tony DiGiovanni may be reached at