Repost - Planting Seeds

2020-07-27

Today marks a transition in the 'guided path'. Over the last several weeks, I've shared steps in a career journey, which gradually change one's focus. At a certain point, the most value you can bring is not through your own efforts. It will be through improving the efforts of others. Sometimes it is a season in your career, or it can be in discrete instances of facilitation or coaching. But to best serve in both cases you focus needs to move outward.

Now, moving your focus outward means your indicators of success also moved out. I am a very goals driven person, so when I took the first steps into the other-focuses seasons, I was a bit lost. I knew a great deal. But my sentiments and expectations weren't yet tempered with experience. Head knowledge, versus Heart knowledge. Today I experience much less disappointment due to inflated expectations. And in my mind echos a very powerful metaphor for the right other-focused mindset...


Coaching is not an instant gratification sport. Humans, as we know, take time to change. And I knew all this in my head. But my feelings don't always align with reality. And this was the mental state I found myself in during a recent mentoring conversation. I'd been working on coaching some colleagues for a few months, but... I wasn't seeing a lot of results. I was somewhat frustrated, and a tad worried. Perhaps I was doing it the wrong way. I was new at this after all. It's not like I was expected results day 1 either...

So stuck in my millennial instant-gratification frame of mind, I asked. What should I do when I can't tell if I'm being successful? My mentor asked me what I felt about coaching. Anything worth having will take time, I said. Sound, loving marriages aren't built in a day for instance. He agreed, and offered a metaphor: Planting seeds. He elaborated; Suppose you take a kid learning baseball. You see that spark of talent, if only you could get the right technique. Mind you , the kid's only 5. You coach them, but at 5 they're just not progressing. So, do you quit? Do you wait until their 10 to teach them? Maybe 15, or 20, once they're done growing and their coordination improved? No! You teach them now. Even if you don't see the results today, 10 years from now, the seeds will bloom. When the child has grown with the technique and skills you imparted to them, one day it will click. Oh! This is what Coach meant when he...

As he said this, I could not help but think of another teacher who didn't get to see the seeds he planted come into bloom. Jesus had to sow seeds without seeing them bloom too. And speaking of remembering, he too seemed to recognize the need for time to pass. As he ascended, he promised the Holy Spirit would bring his teaching to remembrance. Jesus didn't get to see growth of the seeds he planted in them while he was on earth. Yet, he still planted the seeds. If the greatest teacher still had to wait for his students to understand, I guess I shouldn't worry. Even if it takes 10 years or longer! And that is an encouraging thought.


Over the last month I have been building up micro-Habits aimed at building up resilience, especially during this hectic time. One such habit has been reviewing Leadership Promises for Every Day by John Maxwell. One promise in particular struck a chord recently. As I mentioned above, I experience less frustration now. But I am still learning and have much experience to gain. So when I read that not everyone will want to take the journey with you, my gut had a couple conflicting reactions.

One part of me felt like admitting that would be the same as giving up... but part of me know that it must be the case. Anything less than allowing the others not to take the journey would be disrespectful at a minimum. And so it was that I learned another part of planting seeds. Not every gardener will want flowers, or vegetables. But couple that understanding with the hope it may be the person isn't going to take the journey right now. They might get there on their own, along a different path. You don't need to become completely passive either. Keep a reasonable connection. It may be that in the future you can help each other as colleagues.