Years ago, a friend and I were standing in the kitchen transferring hors d’oeuvres to platters when she shared a disappointment in her work. She had been overlooked for a role for which she was clearly the better candidate. I was surprised by her optimism when she joyfully concluded, “I’m good, though. I’ve always believed you should bloom where you are planted.”
After the party, I continued to think about my friend’s situation. The fact that she had joy in spite of her futile circumstances really perplexed me. Where was her drive, her determination, her resolve to make lemonade from lemons? Why didn’t she defend herself? I didn’t like her analogy or the idea of being planted. It implied that someone else was in charge of her future. How could someone whose life was marked by pioneering new courses and notable achievements say that this passive philosophy was something she had always believed?
I concluded that I must have missed something. I thought about the context of the analogy and how my friend had used it in relation to moving from disappointment to acceptance to joy. In the analogy, she was a seed or bulb. Her motivation was to bloom. Conditions were not favorable, and it was not probable that she would bloom. To me, it seemed like she should move on. But how could a seed will to move? That is when I began to understand.
She had the self-awareness to discern that she had a finite amount of energy. Even if she was not promoted by her boss, it was more profitable to spend her time on what she could do: grow. Although her position was not ideal at the moment, ultimately, she believed it could be better in the future if she was willing to adapt and be faithful in what she could do today. She didn’t gossip, grumble, or complain, neither did she try to prove to the boss that he made a mistake. Getting the promotion was outside of her locus of control, but personal development wasn’t. She chose to focus inward and believed that her boss would either see her differently, or she would appeal to someone else who could appreciate her. Who could resist the desire to pick a radiant flower in full bloom? So she bloomed. And in that way, she did move herself.
She began to spend more time doing things she loved. She became pretty good at one of her hobbies and took a step of faith by starting a small side business. Through connections she made there, she was offered a different day job. Her side business never grew. She didn’t make a million dollars or become famous. In fact, a few years later, she closed her side business, but it had been the catalyst that opened the door for her to ditch her dead end job and step into a new vocation. Through mindfulness, she shifted her focus and so can you.