Recently, I met someone who initially impressed me – well, a LOT. As I was asking questions and learning, I said, “What you do is amazing.” But I was a bit surprised when I heard in reply, “It Doesn’t Feel Amazing! It’s just day after day after day.”
My eyes welled when I started to think about what was said later on that day when I had a moment to reflect. I think the reason is because what he said so resonated with me personally. It’s true – it doesn’t feel amazing when you’re working day after day after day with no end in sight. The truth is – I could feel his pain – many of us have to endure. But I felt sorry for him. Not because of what he is having to endure – but because he didn’t seem to be enduring very well.
Then I recalled what I had heard a good friend of mine, Jay Blacker, say recently and how it made me feel when he said, “BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED.”
When I heard Jay say this I could not help but be reminded of a lady I worked with in the early 90’s when I worked for a small 20 person Minority Owned Business – for lack of a better way to say this, all the employees were African American – well, except for me. At the time we met she was embroiled in a lawsuit because she had lost her teenage son to a routine surgery – I guess no surgeries are routine. But obviously, this was understandably very stressful and she was – well, let’s just say, “UNPLEASANT” to be around. Because she knew she was occasionally unpleasant to be around and would fly-off-the-handle-frequently, she was constantly saying, “You know, when this is over I can get back to normal.”
And eventually, it was resolved and over in her mind. BUT her “unpleasantness” found a NEW focus and she – without really realizing she had made a minor adjustment to verbiage – continued to say, “If I can just get to the end of this struggle things will be much better.” And guess what? As things often do, she survived through her NEW stressful ordeal. But as you can now imagine – her “unpleasantness” was on a serious lookout and lo-and-behold, she was rewarded with a NEW, new stressful situation. Again, a slight modification to verbiage was all she needed to “explain” her unpleasantness. I can’t remember exactly – I probably wiped it from my brain for sanity purposes – but I think it was something like, “This can’t last forever – I just can’t wait until I’m done with this so things will be better.”
Because I was a little younger and a little dumber – okay, a lot dumber – and after I realized what was happening I thought she’d like to know there was a pattern to her behavior – I THOUGHT it would be helpful. BAD IDEA, Dude. NOTE: I typically refer to myself as “Dude” when I make a really stupid mistake.
Not only did she DEFINITELY NOT want to know there was a pattern to her thoughts and actions, my approach rewarded her with a NEW, new, new focus for her “unpleasantness.” Can you imagine what it was? That’s right – the NEW, new, new focus of her “unpleasantness” – was ME. Her verbiage changed to, “If we can just get rid of Kyle, this office would run so much better.”
I learned a few important lessons from this experience:
1. Never attempt – no matter your motivation – to help a black woman over the age of 45 become conscious of her thoughts and actions.
2. Never attempt – no matter your motivation – to help a black woman over the age of 45 – who is the owner’s sister – become conscious of her thoughts and actions.
3. Never attempt – no matter your motivation – to help ANY black woman become conscious of her thoughts and actions.
4. Never attempt – no matter your motivation – to help ANY woman become conscious of her thoughts and actions.
5. People will not chase you down to beat you up – Just Run, Baby!
6. If you find yourself waiting to “JUST GET THROUGH THIS” to make things better, you may miss out on many opportunities for joy, fun and find yourself in a perpetual state of “unpleasantness.”
Occasionally, as my boys affected by functional autism go through different phases of their life, I can fall in to the “unpleasantness” when I start to think things like I-CANT-WAIT-TILL the day when they will get through this and things will get easier – or better, or THIS-CAN’T-LAST-FOREVER, or IF-WE-CAN-JUST-GET-THEM-TO – well, you get the idea, huh?
If you focus on the GETTING-THIS-OVER-WITH, you may just be closing your mind to the opportunities for joy and happiness WHILE you are going through trials. If you focus on the GETTING-THIS-OVER-WITH, you may just find yourself caught up so much that – even though you know it exists – you are unable to find joy and happiness while you are going through trials. If you focus on the GETTING-THIS-OVER-WITH, you may just be too busy or too preoccupied – even though you believe it’s there – to find joy and happiness while you are going through trials.
The real key here is to focus on what Jay said that day: Simply “Bloom Where You Are Planted.” No matter if you feel you have fallen upon the path and are trodden under foot. No matter if you feel you have fallen on the rock or among the thorns. You can find the good soil and grow – and maybe even – maybe even BLOOM.