Last night a thoughtful client invited me to an event where a beautiful analogy was made. It was held at a local winery, and the vineyard manager, John, talked about the life of a vine and others related how similar our own journeys are like those of the vine. John talked about first planting the vines, getting the soil ready and then tending to them and caring for them, and actually cutting the fruit off the vine the first few years so that the energy of the vine went into creating a strong plant. They typically wait 5 years before there is any real harvest of fruit. The example was made how we sometimes have to pass by “fruit”, things that seem like an opportunity, to create more opportunity for ourselves later.
I thought a lot about this. How do you know which fruit to pass by in life? How do you know if not taking an opportunity will lead to more fruit later for you? I have to believe it is in being intentional and having a vision. John cut off that fruit, knowing that it would create a stronger plant that would yield more later. He knew what his end goal was. Had he not known that, he might have been grateful for any fruit being produced and let it all grow, reducing his harvest in future years. Remember, sometimes we need to let things go and do less so that we will have more later, or the space and time to take better opportunities in the future.
There were a lot of questions around how our recent drought and cold winters impact the vines. It was here another lesson blossomed. John shared that stressing the plants actually builds their resilience. In fact, the year following these stressors, they had their most abundant harvests. Adversity builds resilience. It teaches us the skills needed to adapt and bounce back, and makes us stronger. If John had given up tending to the vines when they yielded little fruit during the years those stressors occurred, his vines would not have had the strength to bounce back even stronger. We must maintain a resilient mindset and tend to our selfcare throughout adversity.
In the end, my takeaways were the following:
- Take time to think about what is important to you so that when fruit presents itself you know if it is really what you want, or just a distraction. For example, you may be offered a promotion, but with this comes a lot of travel and time away from your family. Is the work you will be doing helping you achieve your long-term goals, or is the extra income not worth the price of missing your child’s last few years of high school? I find Board positions can be like this as well. It is such an honor to be asked, but is the organization or mission something you are really passionate about?
- Build your resilience. Even when things seem bleak, keep nurturing and caring for yourself. Surround yourself with positive people. Get more sleep. Invest in yourself. Have faith that your harvest may be just beyond where you can see. Looking back, I can see that times when I faced adversity ended up being opportunities. I would not have found the life I have and love today if it were not for those turning points. We also need to remember to allow our children to build the resilience they need so they can be successful later in life. If we protect them and they don’t get opportunity to bounce back from adversity, they will not gain the confidence that they can overcome adversity. They will not build a resilient mindset.
- Prune the things that are holding you back. Stay focused and create a clear vision for yourself. This needs to be revisited on an ongoing basis. Cut out the things in your life that are taking up time you can spend on more important things. A small thing I just did was deleting social media and the news app from my phone. It made it too easy to just take a peak. It was a huge distraction for me. The first few days I felt like an addict reaching for my phone. Now though, I am so much happier and focused.
- Be patient. The truth of the matter is that success does not happen overnight. The gardening metaphor is so perfect. You have to make sure the soil is prepared (Take care of yourself. exercise, meditate, create space for yourself). You have to plant the vine, and then monitor what is holding it back. Does it need pruning? Is there early fruit that is going to hold it back from reaching its full potential? On a year where there is a stressor and not much fruit, do you abandon it or keep nurturing it, having faith that it will come back stronger? Keep the faith. Don’t stop caring for yourself. Let others help care for you too. It takes time.
- Be the gardener of your life. Know what you want to plant and cultivate. Create a vision and actively work towards it. If the plants don’t get properly cared for and pruned, you end up with leaves and no fruit.