How fertile is the soil?
Knowing who you are is one thing. Being rooted in the right environment is another.
Unfortunately for some, they don’t even know who they are anymore as they’ve had to adapt to punishing and unforgiving circumstances, just to survive. By determining what you already have and appreciating what the environment has given you can still take up the right amounts of fertilizer to support you.
There will be times when you have to comply with laws of the pot or planter, even when you don’t want to. Not all environments are always lacking in nutrients. Too much of a good thing can also have a reverse effect. Is someone blessed with a lot of resources always better off than someone who has little? Our quality of life is not determined by how much money you have in the bank account, how big your house is or what brand of clothing you wear. The right fertilizers are genuine relationships which nourish and support your existence, whether you make mistakes or get it right. It’s about surrounding yourself with people who truly celebrate your success and accept you for who are not the version of what they’d like you to be.
What’s your growth stage?
As with timing, knowing your current stage of growth can help you make the right decisions. Use resources diligently otherwise you’ll be deficient in critical areas as you become successful in others. Usually, the more we progress in our careers, the more we negate our families, meaningful relationships, health or even faith. The Tomato Plant died not because it was difficult to obtain the right compost or pot to accommodate its growth. The Tomato Plant died because I was focusing on other things and the plant never became a priority. Too busy to go to the hardware shop. Too rushed to water the plant consistently.
Likewise, success without maintaining the right-life balance will negatively impact growth all round. The plant depended on me to make the right decisions. I had power to determine the outcome of that plant. I’ve also observed that sometimes, the people we hold in high regard can limit how far you can progress towards our calling. Family and friends may even give you the best of all the goodness they have such as; long-held values, beliefs, and other norms that used to work but which no longer apply to current circumstances. Allow me to insert a different analogy to prove the same point.
If you know a thing or two about child development and growth, you’ll probably have heard that mother’s milk is superior and offers more health benefits compared to infant formula milk. If mum is not healthy or lacks vitamin D for example (a big issue for women of colour who reside in cold climates) then the milk will not be as beneficial as it should be. No matter how much mum loves her baby and strives to feed on demand; the baby might be better off on formula milk which is fortified with vitamins and minerals even when conventional wisdom says breast milk is best. If switching is not an option, then her beloved baby or toddler might need supplements otherwise the baby could present with stunted growth or other symptoms.
You'll find that during periods of growth, what used to sustain you may no longer sufficiently meet your current needs or could work against where you're heading. You might have to prune or remove people out of your life to allow yourself to grow. These are the kind of people who consistently remind you of your past, mistakes or failures or blackmail you with so-called 'truths' garnered during your moments of weakness. The kind of people who will use underhand comments served to bring your self-belief or confidence to a lower level whilst telling you that they are keeping it real. Some people will never get used to the fact that you've changed and outgrown what was or who you used to be. The longer you entertain them, the more they could potentially poison new beginnings or plant seeds of doubt. Without pruning deadwood, there will be no further growth.
Pruning could mean forgiving people who've wronged you before you can flourish. It means weeding each and every thing that reminds you of the pain and past memories; what they did, didn’t do or what they said. I remember when I was going through stages of forgiveness and thought that I’d dealt with stuff and indeed I had. However, I noticed that when I thought that I’d forgiven, a new challenge would emerge as the person I’d been trying to forgive renewed the pain one way or another. Maybe it wasn't about them, maybe it was me feeling the pain emanating from a wound that's yet to heal fully.
You see, they didn’t even realise let alone appreciate the fact that I’d forgiven them loads of times before. I’d react with anger and needed to justify how I felt. Slowly started regressing, until a two close friends highlighted the importance of forgiveness. “Forgiveness is the key to your success,” one of them said. Immediately dropped the remaining anger as I quickly realised that those niggling little issues had the potential to re-establish themselves and grow, destroying my dreams and progress in the process. Unforgiven little grudges that you sometimes hold on to can grow into thorns capable of choking your growth as you spread yourself towards the light.
Let it GO!
Let’s diverge a little bit in order to drive a point home.
Once heard a story that shook me to the core, to the point of actively working on forgiveness. T.D. Jakes was preaching about letting go so you can soar towards the highest levels of your abilities. He told a story about an eagle. We all know that eagles were created to glide at the highest levels; unlike chickens which perk on the ground and never look up. The eagle spotted something on the ground and it looked good. It did what it does best and picked a quick take-away before flying back into the skies. Nothing big, just a small animal. After a while, the eagle was seen struggling to maintain its flight before plunging to its death. Surely, what could bring down such a mighty and majestic bird? Turned out that the eagle had swooped upon a weasel. It wasn’t the size of the eagles’ kill that brought it down, it was the weasel’s ability to go for the eagle’s heart.
To cut a long gory story short, the eagle was brought down because it wouldn’t let go of the tiny animal which was sucking the life out of the eagle's heart. The more I look at this story, the more I realise that the weasel was also doing what it does best while fighting for life. Survival of the fittest! You and I have occassionally picked a few weasels as we journey towards our destinies. We all make mistakes and make wrong judgements about people. It could be small, hurtful words or actions targeted towards where it hurts the most. Some people are specialists when it comes to serving few words with the power to bring you down. They know your weaknesses and will target those with precision, weasels in action! Let it go, even if you have to do it over and over again. If you don’t drop the negativity no matter how small, it will eventually bring you down, no matter how strong you are!
Do not be afraid to remove people out of your life when they've served their purpose. I know from experience people who comforted me during my darkest hours. However, each time I went back to them with exciting news about breakthroughs, their reactions were somewhat half-hearted, to say the least. It’s not that I expected praise every step of the way, it’s about celebrating those little steps before they turn into big strides. Sometimes as you regain your strength, remember that other people might be tackling issues of their own and might not feel comfortable to share with you. Life is all about ups and downs and your cheerleaders or close friends could be experiencing knockbacks whilst you’re on the rise. Remember that before you cut people off. It is not about using good people and getting rid of them, it's about selectively getting rid of old, lifeless branches that no longer promote your growth and sustain your well-being. On that note, let me take a moment to quote Paulo Coelho who once wrote:
It's possible to outgrow an environment and people you look up to, just like what happened to the Tomato Plant. Without exposure to the right resources at the right time, a promising individual can easily wither, never reaching his or her growth potential. Maybe you recognise where I went wrong as a planter or custodian of a somewhat promising plant. Perhaps you have been unwittingly or actively limiting someone's growth for many other reasons. It could be your own fears, beliefs or maybe you are trying to do the right thing without realising that you're suffocating your beloved plant.
Maybe you are a custodian who could do with reminding to never take the good you see in others for granted. Maybe you need to release your seedlings as a greatest show of love. Maybe you've been mentoring someone, and now they're ready to spread their wings and fly. Allow them to explore and go on grand adventures. Your desire to protect them could potentially thwart what they were created to do. I hope you'll realise that when you expect to be served by others (growers) without nurturing genuine relationships and doing your bit to sustain them, you will be on the losing end, eventually.
However, it usually takes one person to actively seek the light and grow even when odds are stacked against you. Visions are unique and programmed within each and every one of us yet we usually lean onto outsiders to validate our God-given dreams. But the vision was never theirs in the first place. In the end, most fail to thrive not because they didn’t have what it takes to be successful but because they cared more about what others thought and so they remained potted. Thinking out of the pot and actively doing something about it will take you places you never thought possible and achieve what you were created to do. When you become fruitful, you can always go back to your roots and encourage your tribe to rise and shine!
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