The eventual death of the tomato plant served as a stark warning that no matter how promising one is, the ability to be fruitful is never a guarantee.
Perhaps you were born and raised with so much promise, but at some point in your life; you didn't receive the right support you needed to develop and thrive. Maybe you faced resistance on your way to the top or as you tried to express yourself or showcase your talents. Perhaps you have allowed people to take you for granted yet you keep on giving. You're the right person. Dependable. The one who they can count on; just like the tomato plant.
The longer a person stays in an environment that does not feed or nurture their needs, gifts, and talents; the more negatively it influences the outcome. You turn up on time to serve, smile, give and keep giving. Sooner or later, you'll start dying from the inside before the effects show up on the outside. Remember needs are not always defined in monetary or relationship terms. Needs are usually the basic requirements we all need in order to thrive; nourishing food, enough rest and sleep, friendship and love. The kind of love and care that make you feel secure as a human being so you can grow without limitations. Remember how the tomato plant gave signs that something was not right yet the signs ignored? There are times when we choose to ignore warning signs which ultimately leads to undesired consequences. What does your intuition tell you about people and situations? What is your body trying to telling you yet you continue to ignore the warning signs?
Too little, too late...
Remember how the plant was placed on higher ground, elevated to window level in the kitchen? How often have you dealt with people who give just the minimum whilst they take from what you already have in abundance. Maybe you've encountered someone who showers you with praise at the beginning of a relationship but as time progresses, they want to talk about themselves and aren't concerned about your needs. They want someone to cheer for them despite their initial praise. You might even find yourself being celebrated once in a while to keep you sweet but still overlooked for a promotion. Just like the tomato plant, you keep on giving and doing all you can to be productive. Most people want to give and try their best, but problems arise when one always gives without any recognition or support. Your needs do not count no matter how many times you approach ‘planters' with proposals to grow (senior managers or leaders).
Maybe you are potted in an abusive relationship, where the other party always reminds you that without them you're nothing. They might provide the material things, buy flowers or expensive gifts as a declaration of love, days after brutally beating you up. An old friend of mine once articulated a story of an abusive husband who would go to the wifes' relatives and buy them groceries. The relatives would encourage the battered woman to go back to her husband, after all, he really was, "a very generous person." Abusive people have a tendency of placing people on window seals where you get something small to keep you in check. Eventually, your soul will die because you're not getting the right kind of input that sustains and nourishes your existence.
You might even start to count your so-called blessings; that at least you're on a kitchen window, not outside in the scorching heat and heavy rains. You may begin to be grateful that you're not outside, where parasites and other opportunistic invaders might litter your beautiful leaves. However, no matter how many times you wait upon the planter to recognise or even reward your earnest spirit of servitude, your needs are never a priority because after all, it's not about you. It's about what you can give and make others feel...
I've learnt that sometimes, givers and loyal people pay the price for being good people.
Sustainable Growth vs. Short-Term Gains
Not-so-along ago in the UK, long-serving customers used to get a raw deal compared to new ones. Switching at the end of your contract was the order of the day and highly encouraged. Loyalty or staying with a company for too long was something to be frowned upon; not a good move, some would say! A lot of companies showered deal hoppers, enticing them with vouchers, gifts and lower price deals without realising that there was value in those who stayed. Even with retention teams on board; their attempts to renew contracts were often half-hearted, more like a tick-box exercise before letting you go. It was repotting without sustainability in action.
From a tomato plant's perspective, I realised that some companies are finally waking up to the fact that there is power in genuine relationship building rather than putting someone on a mere pedestal or window seal. Most people (plants) know when they're being taken for granted even though they might not act upon it immediately. It is widely believed that lack of appreciation is the root of many break-ups. A simple act of appreciation can start a chain reaction towards building solid relationships, whether in business or personal lives. However, appreciation and flattery are completely different; most people can tell when someone is dressing up words without meaning it.
In business and marketing, there is a well-known concept called Acquisition and Retention. It states that it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than keep an existing one. Nurturing business relationships with loyal people is a priceless concept capable of sustaining strong enough partnerships that withstand internal and external challenges. The same concept applies in our relationships with others. Remember how I continued to react to more pressing issues instead of prioritising repotting the plant? How many times do we focus on 'other things' that scream for our attention while we ignore dependable spouses, family, children or friendships. We wrongly believe that no matter how little we give, they will always be there anyway. However, if you don't take appropriate action while you still can, you might wake up to the sad reality that you failed to nurture what was meant to sustain you in the long run.
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