Getting rid of the old to make room for the new.
A few years ago one of my neighbours gave me a piece of rosemary to plant in a pot on my deck. She told me it was easy to grow in the area where I lived and that she even had it growing wild up her drive. So I planted it on a pot on my deck and it died. Feeling bad that I had managed to kill something that was supposedly ‘easy to grow’, I bought another plant from our local nursery, hoping for better luck, but alas it too decided to turn up its toes and die.
However, by this time I was in love with the idea of having fresh rosemary growing on my deck, so I did a bit of internet research and discovered rosemary comes from the Mediterranean and loves full sun. So for plant number three, I moved the pot from our small shady deck to our larger sunnier one. Thankfully plant number three not only survived but thrived and I had rosemary in abundance for my potatoes, polenta and lamb.
It should probably not have come as a surprise, that my sun-loving prolific rosemary plant did not like the Wellington winter. It began to look decidedly unwell so hedging my bets I bought another rosemary plant and popped it into my rosemary-growing pot. I crossed my fingers that with the start of spring both of my rosemary plants would begin to thrive.
But it was not to be. This week, as I ventured out to water my new plants, I discovered that my poor old rosemary had turned up its toes and was now looking very dead beside my lovely new plant.
In an effort to quickly remove the evidence that I had managed to kill yet another rosemary plant I lent over the pot and attempted to pull the dead rosemary out.
But it was stuck fast.
I knew that if I kept pulling at the dead plant I would risk disturbing and potentially killing the new plant. I also knew that if I did not remove the old plant then its dead root system would stop my new plant from thriving.
In the end, I had to go and find a trowel and carefully and painstakingly remove the old plant, bit by bit, extricating it carefully so that I minimised the impact on the new plant.
It reminded me a lot of when new things happen in our own lives. It might be a new job, a new opportunity, or a new relationship. Whatever it is, we need to carefully remove any ‘dead things’ that are still lying nearby, otherwise, we risk compromising the new growth that has come into our lives.
One of these ‘dead things’ is hurtful comments. If we carry them into the future they will stop us from thriving. One of my favourite sayings from Brené Brown’s book Dare to Lead is:
Don't grab hurtful comments and pull them close to you by rereading them and ruminating on them. Don't play with them by rehearsing your badass comeback. And whatever you do, don't pull hatefulness close to your heart. Let what's unproductive and hurtful drop at the feet of your self… You don't even need to stomp it or kick it away... take a deep breath and find the strength to leave what's mean-spirited on the ground... Just step over the comments and keep daring.
What I love about this quote is that Brené is exalting us to not allow hurtful comments anywhere near our hearts. I love the imagery of letting past hurts fall to the ground and stepping over them.
No one is exempt from criticism. No one is loved by everyone all of the time. Remember though, it is not the criticism that will define you, it is what you do with the criticism that will determine whether you thrive or just survive.
It can take time to find the right conditions to grow. Different conditions suit different people, so if you haven’t thrived in a particular place it may not mean anything is wrong. It might just be the wrong place for you. It might be the sunny deck when you actually do better in the shade.
If you are a leader and you have staff who don’t settle, the only thing that might be wrong is that this is just not the right place for them or you are just not the leader they need right now - it is not that they are wrong or you are wrong - it is just that the fit is wrong.
If you are in a new season but are haunted by the past can I encourage you to find a way to gently and carefully uproot anything that is hindering your growth? If it is at all possible, do not dwell on negative past events, the way people may have treated you, or the hurtful things others have said.
Instead, forgetting all of the past, fasten your heart to the future.
Til next time
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