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Still cannot be forced to bloom.

“Personal growth is not something to be forced but something to be nurtured and guided - an organic evolution of self. Plant yourself in fertile soil and welcome both the sunshine and the rain. The glory is in the bloom, but the essence is in the roots.”

As a coach I hear it often, “I need to work on my personal growth, but I can’t spare the time away from my business.”  To that common statement I offer two challenges:

First; growth isn’t something you can force, it is something that must be nurtured and that is a daily endeavor, not a project to be undertaken when you have the time.

Second; you are the driving force in your business (or your career.) Without you increasing your value as an individual how can you expect to increase your value to your clients (or employer?)

Have you ever purchased or been given a bare-root rose bush? There it is, looking like something from a Louisiana swamp, all knotted and spindly and prickly and decidedly not pretty.

Usually it comes wrapped in a plastic casing with a picture of what you can expect (or at least hope for) when you have done your part. The picture shows a verdant plant with glossy leaves and swirls and whirls of color and the text describes the scent in language that might be equally suited to an expensive wine, or at least cologne.

You read the directions and, unless you are an expert rose gardener or willing to take a risk of messing this one up, you probably read them again. They involve a specific sequence, precise measurements of depth and components of soil. You follow the guidelines as best you can and sit back to wait for your little bit of heaven.

That bare-root rose is a kind of baby, all potential and needing a lot of care. If it is planted in less than ideal soil or exposed to less than ideal conditions it may suffer. Its growth may be stunted and it may bloom very little or not at all. But if the roots are strong all that potential is still there just waiting to be discovered. Like roses, we can all grow strong and beautiful with a little self care.

Revisit your “planting instructions.” For all of us there are certain environments where we are most likely to flourish. Roses need well drained soil that is rich in certain nutrients. Some need a supporting structure, some stand on their own. Some can grow close together, some need more room. What do you need? Elements to consider; surroundings, stimuli, support and sustenance.

Your rose has been carefully placed in an environment conducive to its health. Do you think you’re done? Oh not even; you’re going to pray for sun, supplement the rain if it is too little or augment the soil if it is too much. You’re going to mulch and weed and watch carefully for nasty mites or moles.

No matter how ideal your situation you will need to continue the nurturing in order to grow. And rain is just as nurturing as sunshine, weeding out the unwanted elements is just as important as encouraging the growth of the rose.

Embrace opportunities that seem like “rain” knowing they are as essential to your personal growth as the more pleasant sunny days. Stay focused on producing “roses” but be mindful of the weeds, parasites or pests that can distract you from that end goal.

Finally green leaves, finally little buds and then, at last, the heavenly scent and velvet petals of the fully opened rose. Even now your work isn’t done. If you want more roses you will still be watering, weeding, protecting as well as shaping, pruning and deadheading.

Growing roses that produce glorious blooms (and what enjoyment would we get from a rose that never bloomed) requires continual engagement. The process can’t be rushed or forced, it isn’t a project that, once completed, continues to give and give with no further investment.

Think of all the people who are attracted to the rose. People pay dearly for them, prize them as gifts, display them at their most meaningful events. The value that is added to any venue when roses are present can be expressed not only in dollars and cents, but also in smiles and goodwill. Well worth the time and effort, wouldn’t you say?

If you want to increase your bottom line through your business or your career you must first add value for your clients or customers, be they external or internal. How can you add individual value if you are not growing as an individual?

Take stock of your opportunities to add value to your clients or customers. It might be by being more knowledgeable in a certain area, it might be through maintaining a more positive outlook or just smiling more often. Create a “gardening schedule” that allows you to build that kind of value in yourself. Do you need to enrich the soil? Enjoy more sunshine? Do some pruning? Engage a master gardener? Maybe you do need to uproot and move to a new “rose bed.”  Whatever your plan, know that it will be an organic and natural process that will produce valuable blooms for as long as you give the rose bush proper care.


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