As I was thumbing through a magazine recently, I came across a saying engraved in a stone that is in the garden of world-famous Vegas-based animal trainers and showmen, Roy and Siegfried. The saying was, "To Plant A Garden Is To Believe In Tomorrow."
Given that spring is the time to decide what to plant in our gardens, it is also a good time to think about what to plant in our personal and professional lives as well. That is about our "belief in tomorrow". If we believe that we should harvest potatoes in the fall, we need to plant potato seeds in the spring. If we believe that we should harvest bamboo trees this year, we would have needed to have planted some bamboo seeds seven years ago. This is easy to understand. We know that there are predictable planting cycles in nature, and that we need to work with them, not against them. We know that if we forget to plant in the spring, we shouldn't be surprised that there is nothing to harvest later. If we plant potatoes, we won't grow expensive wine grapes, no matter how much grape fertilizer we throw on the potato plants or how much we wish for wine grapes.
What is your belief in tomorrow? Do you believe that you will be healthy? If so, what are you planting? A plate full of junk food, or wholesome food that will nourish your body? Do you believe that you will have a wonderful relationship with your spouse (or have a spouse, for that matter)? If so, what are you planting in your relationship life? Do you believe that you will have enough money to retire, to go for cool vacations, and not to worry about having too much month at the end of the money? What are you planting there - debt without thought or specific strategies to take you to a wealthy or comfortable lifestyle? Do you believe that you will have friends and family when you need them? If so, are you planting "oops, I never have the time to call anymore" excuses, or do you create the time to be with those who matter to you?
I will be the first to admit that it is hard to always stay on focus and well-balanced with all the planting that needs to be done. It is all too easy to look at other people who are harvesting already and to say things like, "she was LUCKY to have found a guy like that" and "boy, if I only came from a family with money, like he did, I'd have it made as well." It is a lot harder to take responsibility for planting the right things today that are likely to give us what we want tomorrow.
If there is anything that I have learned about personal or business success, it is that there is a degree of predictability. We like to mystify this by talking about "being in the right place at the right time", genetics, and other things that are outside of our control. It may very well be that a farmer is not in total control of his harvest, either. One year, he may do better because it rains a lot and there is a lot of sunshine. Next year, he may do much worse because of late repeated frost and no sunshine in the summer. On average, however, he still has a lot of control - by deciding what to plant, when to plant it, how much to plant, where to plant it, how to tend it once it's planted, and sticking around until the harvest happens. The same way, successful people have at some point decided what to focus on and how to go about making it happen.
Intrigued? Where to start, then?
1. Accept that there will be some circumstances you will never be able to control. Stock market crashes will happen, and so will some lucky shots that you will benefit from.
2. Decide what "tomorrow" you want to believe in. Health? Wealth? Happiness? Define it, with great specificity.
3. If your "tomorrow" were a plant, what would be the seeds? For example, some of the seeds required for good health would be regular meals, regular sleep, and regular exercise.
4. Answer some questions for how you'll take care of the seeds: Where will you plant them? How many? When and/or how often will you plant them? Whose assistance will you need? How will you maintain them? When do you want to harvest?
5. Plan big but start small. Decide on one to three of the highest priority plants you want to harvest. Unless you're a big farmer with huge resources, you'd be starting small first as well. You can always plant more next year when you're ready for it.
6. Get the seeds you need and START PLANTING. The sooner you plant, the sooner you harvest.
7. Adapt to the weather, but stick to the plan. The seeds, regardless how well planted, will die if you forget to tend to them or give up when you don't see progress fast enough.
We're a society notorious for wanting overnight success. Get over it. If such overnight success happens at all, it happens to people who have done lots of planting beforehand anyway. Get used to the fact that you will likely not see sprouts coming out of the ground next day. If you had planted right and tended your seeds right, you WILL come to the field one day and see the entire field covered with the harvest you had believed in.
Happy planting, sunshine and smiles,
"Nothing in life just happens. You have to have the stamina
to meet the obstacles and overcome them."
"The man who has no imagination has no wings."
Sir Winston Churchill
"The greatest test of courage on the earth is to bear defeat without losing heart."
R. G. Ingersoll