Hello, Leading Ladies! Today I want to share a story that beautifully illustrates a vital aspect of growth, both in our personal and professional lives. It’s a tale of my little lemon tree and how it taught me that growth isn’t always visible.
Growth Isn’t Always What It Seems
In my journey as a certified professional coach, I’ve often emphasized the importance of growth. I firmly believe that we’re either winning or learning, and learning is an integral part of growth. But growth doesn’t always manifest in the ways we expect. This realization hit me as I recalled a conversation with a friend who had recently moved to a new state. She and her partner had new jobs and her kids were going to new schools. It was just big, new, scary, and uncertain adjustments for them all. She had made the decision to really focus on getting her family settled and establishing their life in this new place. She said her business had taken a backseat, and she felt like it had lost momentum. Her story reminded me of my lemon tree.
Several years ago, I decided that I really wanted my own lemon tree. If you know me, you know that I do not have a green thumb. Instead, I have what you might call a black thumb. My girlfriends lovingly tell me that I am like a hospice for plants because I transition them to the afterlife with love and care. So needless to say, I got this crazy idea that I would plant some lemon seeds and see what happens, not expecting much to happen. But there was one seed that really fought for life, and before I knew it, I had this little sprout.
So there I was five plus years later, and I had a four-and-a-half-foot lemon tree. I’m really proud of this lemon tree. I invested a lot in it, and I nurtured it. And I was just so proud of myself that it hadn’t died. But in the summer of 2019, one part of the tree didn’t grow. I kept it outdoors for the summer, as I had for the previous years, and one side of the tree grew like crazy, but the other side of the tree was looking pretty bad. I was afraid that it was sick or that the tree was even possibly dying. So that entire summer, that one side of the tree did absolutely nothing. I couldn’t help but feel a little sad and defeated especially knowing my history with plants.
In the early fall, I moved the tree back indoors, and I noticed some tiny little sprouts on the side that had not been growing. Then, in a matter of only days, that side of the tree suddenly shot out, and the tree was suddenly even again! I looked closer, and the tree trunk was much thicker and stronger than it had been early in the summer. Here I thought it wasn’t growing, and I had almost given up on that lemon tree. I thought that the inevitable was coming and that the tree was done for, but really, it was just strengthening its roots to prepare for a growth spurt.
The Lesson: Strengthening Our Roots
With my lemon tree, the most profound growth happened when it seemed like nothing was happening at all. This period of apparent inactivity was, in fact, a time of vital internal development. The tree was strengthening its roots, building a foundation robust enough to support future growth. This is a powerful metaphor for our personal and professional lives.
A strong foundation is essential for sustainable growth. Without it, even the most impressive progress can be short-lived. In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to overlook the importance of this foundational work. We’re often pressured to keep moving, to show constant progress. But just like the lemon tree, sometimes our most significant growth happens when we pause to strengthen our roots. This could mean taking time to learn new skills, reflect on our experiences, or even reassess our goals and strategies.
A Client’s Journey of Growth
In 2020, I worked with a client who, during the COVID-19 pandemic, found herself working from home while managing the challenges of distance learning for her two small children. This period led her to a significant realization about her career and life priorities. Initially, she struggled with the feeling that stepping away from her high-pressure job in DC was a regression in her career. She had invested a lot in building her career and now felt like she was walking away from it. This decision initially brought feelings of defeat and self-doubt.
Through our coaching sessions, we delved into her core values and priorities. This introspection helped her reevaluate what quality of life meant to her and what she truly wanted for herself and her family. It became clear that her definition of success was evolving. As she explored different career options, she discovered a craving for creativity and a more social career path, differing significantly from her previous role. This realization marked a significant growth in her understanding of herself and her aspirations.
Ultimately, she recognized that her growth over the past few months was substantial. Choosing a different path didn’t mean she wasn’t growing. Instead, she was branching out in new directions that aligned more closely with her redefined personal and professional goals. This client’s story is a testament to the fact that growth often involves reevaluating and changing our paths. It’s about aligning our actions with our evolving values and understanding that growth isn’t just about upward career movement but also about personal fulfillment and happiness.
The Lemon Tree Today
My lemon tree, which I once thought was failing, is now thriving. It’s a daily reminder that growth can be unexpected and that we should be gentle with ourselves during these processes. My friend, who felt her business had lost momentum, is now flourishing in her new environment. And my client is discovering new aspects of herself and her desires.
Conclusion: Growth Is a Journey
If you’re feeling like you’re not growing, remember the story of the lemon tree. Growth is a journey. It’s not always about moving up and out. Sometimes, it’s about going deep, laying a strong foundation, and preparing for what’s next. So, take a moment to reflect on your growth, even if it’s not immediately visible. Embrace the process, and remember, every step, no matter how small or unseen, is a step forward.
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Let’s embrace our growth journeys together, no matter how they unfold.