What does this quote mean in practice? "Nothing blooms 365 days a year." In our personal lives, it means we're not always "on," not always winning, not always exhibiting greatness. Sometimes we go through phases of "doing," and then there are phases of learning. In business, it means that sometimes we are advancing, and other times we are storing up our reserves. Anything to the contrary would be unrealistic, yet we are often held to that expectation by family, work, and society.
In the rainforests of Sumatra, there exists a very strange flowering plant called titan arum. It can get to over 10 feet tall and weigh over 165 lbs. It stores its energy in between blooms, producing only a single flower every 7-9 years. Can you imagine being that patient? But when it does flower, it makes a ruckus in the forest, producing heat from its core and a formidable stench, attracting pollinators far and wide. This bloom lasts but 24 hours.
What can we learn from some giant stinky flower? I have encountered countless people who experience guilt in taking breaks, setting boundaries with work, and allowing themselves the space to nourish themselves. Many of us work under the expectation of constant productivity and desire for perfection. Contrarily, this actually works against our ability to be effective. It generates a frantic work culture, one where wellbeing, strategic planning, and learning come secondary to meeting the numbers and competing with each other. This can be counterproductive to truly thriving, to "blooming strong" (if you will) when the time is right.
The quote above from Adrienne Marie Brown's is accompanied by these words from Autumn Meghan Brown of AORTA: "Our gifts thrive in very different circumstances...I can really let go and let other people hold their expertise, and I can call it forward and learn. And that is healthy for a group. A group that is always making decisions isn't a group that is always learning, necessarily, but learning is an essential function of making good decisions. And in order to learn together you have to be good at humility and curiosity."
Since reading this, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the ways I am investing in my own learning and growth. When we invest in ourselves, even if a bloom is brief, it has the potential to be impactful. Despite the titan arum's ephemeral foray into the world, this flower is quite useful. It can be used for food and medicinal purposes and is currently being studied to treat a deadly parasite causing African sleeping sickness. When we take time to hone our skills and learn from others, we will have more to offer the world when the "bloom" occurs.
How is your organization investing before the "bloom"? Are you adhering to professional development plans, checking in with staff, and planning for the long term, or do you often find yourself putting out fires week by week? Do staff feel equipped for growth, or are they constantly worried about change?
If you're interested in learning more about how TJS can help your organization invest in professional development and strategize program growth, please reach out here for a conversation!
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