“What I remember most from George Schultz’s remarks and responses to questions was his metaphor of “gardening” for the conduct of foreign affairs. His point was that national interactions, like personal one, are relationships that need to be carefully tended. Watering and weeding are particularly important, he noted: ensuring that you pay enough attention to keep them flourishing and to observe and remove any problems that might arise early on.
“I have heard other leaders and entrepreneurs describe leading as gardening, in the sense of growing talent, but the Schultz view was far broader. I can just imagine him sitting in the grandeur of his office and reception room on the seventh floor of the State Department, surveying the world and tending U.S. alliances, friendships, and even rivalries with care.”
Anne-Marie Slaughter, “A Personal Tribute to a Public Man,” Princeton Alumni Weekly, April 2021, p 49.