The Law Of Arrogance

[3-Minute Read]This week didn’t end well for my ego. As smart as it was, the know-it-all inside me didn’t have a hope of defying Newton's fourth law – The Law of Arrogance.

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My ego got too big for its boots

This week didn’t end well for my ego. As smart as it was, the know-it-all inside me didn’t have a hope of defying Newton’s fourth law – The Law of Arrogance.

PHOTO: A massive pruning occurred in Sean’s tomato patch this week, and my ego wore the brunt of it.

I’m No Tomato Expert, But…

My list of achievements as a tomato grower is short. I’ve grown Tiny Tom tomatoes in balcony pots maybe five times and in-the-ground varieties thrice. So, you’ll understand my surprise when this week I discovered I am a tomato aficionado.

The tomato patch is Sean’s zone. Tomatoes create more joy for him than me. They evoke memories of gardening alongside his grandfather, and he loves the smell of the growing plants. In contrast, my enjoyment of tomatoes comes at the stages of cooking and eating. As we planned and planted the tomatoes, it seemed appropriate to let Sean lead the way. Mentally I cordoned the tomato patched off as “Sean’s” and did my best to give him total control.

Trouble started brewing when the first seedlings emerged, but I did my best to keep my mouth shut. Sean was eager to plant the young seedlings into the bed, which is a bad idea. As any tomato-growing expert knows, they must be root-bound in the punnets before planting out. Otherwise, they will grow a lot of leaves and no fruit. 

Then the tightly packed planting in the garden bed annoyed me. The directions on the seed packet stated the gap between plants should be at least 75cm, but Sean planted the seedlings at 30cm gaps. It irked me so bad that I pulled out a couple of the plants and set them further apart. It was a kind gesture of support, offering an example of best practices for Sean to follow. He didn’t take the hint.

The Fear of Failure Grew Too Powerful

Each time I walked past the tomato patch, the muscles in the back of my neck tensed, and the know-it-all voice in my head chimed in.

There won’t be enough air circulation!

Grubs and mould are going to love it in there!

Just because he is an agronomist doesn’t mean he knows what he’s doing!

 When we returned from our holiday, those little seedlings had grown into a feral hedge. Branches from once-separate plants twisted with others. Early-set tomatoes lay smothered under thick mats of leaves. In my mind, the tomato patch stood on the brink of disaster, and my dream of rich pasta sauces was along with it. 

For a couple of days, I pretended to be relaxed about the situation. I prompted Sean with gentle suggestions and lessons in tomato growing. All of which Sean artfully acknowledged and then allowed to pass through to the keeper.

By Sunday, the fear of failure grew too powerful, and I scampered to the garden shed to fetch my sharpest secateurs. For an hour, I tip-toed between the tomato plants, untangled branches and assessed the usefulness of each. Those deemed excessive got chopped, and I looped the others onto stakes with bailing twine. The whole time the know-it-all voice in my head narrated the scene like it was centre stage in a TV gardening show.

After snipping and tutting my way through three-quarters of the tomato patch, I drew breath, and my secateurs fell silent.

PHOTO: Phase one of our veggie garden under construction, all the materials are recycled from other parts of the property.

Newton’s Fourth Law – The Law of Arrogance

It was at that point the voice-of-reason decided to make an appearance.

What if this isn’t the right thing to do? Maybe I’ve been too heavy-handed with the snipping?  Perhaps I should check my facts before going any further? 

I wandered inside and picked up The Practical Australian Gardener from my bedside table. Peter Cundell, the book’s author, is the Grand Poohbah of tomato-growing. More than 40 references to tomato growing pack into the book’s 200 pages. I flicked to the index to find black and white answers to my dilemma.

The first few references offered only simple directions such as the time to plant. My furrowed brow scoured the pages back and forth until it reached paydirt on Page 153.

How To Make Tomato Plants Yield Earlier and Better

The know-it-all voice in my head stirred from its lull.

Ha! Here we go…

My eyes followed my pointer finger as it separated each word to ensure there was no chance of misreading. The know-it-all voice in my head started narrating again.

…another reason for late fruiting is the moddy-coddling of young plants…


…if tomato plants are planted into a soil too rich in nitrogen…they quickly go fat. They produce masses of leaves at the expense of flowers and fruit.

I told you so!

The know-it-all hunted for more words to inflate its pride, but the glory was short-lived.

…Excessive pruning of tomato plants reduces yield. Strong growing varieties…can be restricted to four main stems…after flowering. Smaller bush types…can be left unpruned.

…One reason why tomatoes are subject to leaf removal is the mistaken belief that fruit must be exposed to the sun to hasten ripening. This is not so.

I closed the book.

What would he know!

The know-it-all left the scene in a huff. As smart as it was, it could never defy Newton’s fourth law – The Law of Arrogance. That is, for every absolute truth, there is an equal and opposing exception.

I put the secateurs back in the shed and brewed a cup of tea.

Activities to Expose Your Fears

Fear triggered me to overstep the mark in the tomato garden this week. Seeing that fear is present and driving behaviour is the first step to conquering it. These activities The Route to Unstoppable to strengthen your ability to see the fears deep inside.

9 – Scary Stories

When you attach scary stories to risks they are immediately transformed into debilitating fears. That spells GAME OVER for your ideas and dreams. Here’s what to do about it.

10 – Seeing The Fear

First, see fear then you can manage it. One of the powerful disciplines you can develop in spotting fear is to…SLOW DOWN! Create some time and space when you feel derailed into procrastination, overwhelm, distraction etc.

11 – Fear Thrives In Dark Corners

Fear is like poisonous fungi in our minds. It thrives in dark corners where we never bother to look. It feeds on vagueness, generalisations and myth.

Discover more about your bold mind every Monday

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