A few years ago, I set up a weaving workshop for 60 weavers in Oman, a country bordered by Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and across the Straits of Hormuz from Iran. Oman is a fascinating place, as are its people, and one of the people I met stays in contact with me, regularly sending me emails which uplift, inspire and provoke.
This week, he sent me this. The story is based on a life tenet which I hold dear, but I hadn’t heard it expressed in this way before, and I wanted to share it with you.
The Law of the Seed.
Look at an apple. It has 10 seeds in it. Look at an apple tree – there could be 500 apples, each with 10 seeds. Why so many seeds? After all, it only takes one seed to make a tree.
Ah yes, but not all seeds grow. In fact, most don’t. Maybe the conditions aren’t right – the apple is eaten, the core thrown into a bin and the seeds lost. Even if a seed makes it to the ground, only the right conditions will lead to changes that will allow the seed to grow roots and push up into a stem and start its journey towards the sun, and any amount of events can happen to it on the way to disrupt its progress.
And here we come to the crux of the piece – so many seeds are needed for just one to germinate. So if you really want to make something happen, you’d better try more than once! If you want a job, you will probably have to attend many interviews, if you want to publish a book, you will probably have to submit your manuscript or proposal to several publishers.
When we understand the Law of the Seed, we don’t get so disappointed. We stop feeling like victims because we realise it’s not personal.
Successful people fail more often, but they plant more seeds. I found in the past that if I had one really big idea and followed just that one, if it failed, I felt so disappointed – sometimes hurt, even robbed – and got stuck in the mire feeling I was useless, and totally undermining and sabotaging myself! If have more than one idea that I’m thinking of, or more than one project on the go, if one fails, I’ve got several more that I can develop and I move forward with optimism and learn from the failed project.
If we decide how we think something should be, or if we make rules how everyone should behave, then we are doomed to disappointment. If we feel friends should return favours, appreciate us, planes should arrive on time, everyone should be honest, your husband or best friend should remember your birthday, no matter how reasonable these expectations sound, we are doomed to disappointment and frustration. Just last week, our plane back from Gascony was delayed by 2 1/2 hours, late at night, and in March, my husband and son both forgot my birthday!
But there’s a strategy that relieves these petty problems… If we demand less and have preferences for things that are beyond our control – ie I would prefer that the plane was on time, but if it’s not, it’s ok or I would prefer that people are polite but if they are rude, it doesn’t ruin my day (it only ruins their’s!), then we make our lives much easier.
It’s a change in mindset, a shift in attitude that gives peace of mind, humour and light-heartedness.
Our attitude determines how we live our lives. It’s not the problem that’s the issue, but rather our attitude in dealing with the problem. It’s not what happens to us that determines our happiness, it’s how we think about what happens to us… For instance, the plane delay was due to bad weather (thunderstorms) and by shifting our thoughts away from its impact on us, but rather its impact on the people on the flight coming in, we would much rather it be late and they all be safe. My husband and son forgetting my birthday just made me laugh (especially at their faces when they realised!!) and rib them about it, meanwhile ensuring it’s in the diary for next year (50 next year!!)
I hope you enjoyed the Law of the Seed!
Have a great week!