Bloom Where You’re Planted
A primary rule of biology is that if a thing can grow/live, it will. Witness these brave poppy flowers, not just growing, but blooming. There between the railroad ties, amongst rocks and rubble, regularly being run over by train cars, never getting regular watering, yet they hang on! True to their essential nature, they strive to bloom against all odds. With just the slightest encouragement, they take a shot at accomplishing their purpose.
From Strive to Thrive
Now consider a field of flowers that grow unencumbered. They have plentiful soil, nothing is running over them, dripping toxic liquid on them, or blocking their sunlight. While they may not get watered regularly, they have access to rain and learn to adapt to what is provided. In these conditions, they multiply, they spread, they bloom fully, they regenerate themselves.
People are similar—I believe we all do our best in any moment (though any moment may not represent our ultimate best). We strive to bloom, to adapt, to honor our true essence. Leaders at work and at home have a special opportunity (some would say duty) to do their best to provide the best conditions for their followers to thrive: encouragement, guidance, boundaries, clarity, room to make decisions, opportunities to grow and demonstrate progress, to name just a few.
I just led a group of extraordinary new senior leaders who, like every group before them in my many years of this work, gained a new awareness/appreciation for their leaders as human beings, people who are trying to do the best they can like everyone else. From the lower ranks, the projection of all-knowingness on the leader is common. Now that “you” are “them” the view shifts. It’s often startling! A whole different paradigm opens up with new opportunities and responsibilities to those all around you.
We Are Followers AND Leaders
Most of us are both followers and leaders in different areas of our lives. In your role of follower, what are the conditions your leader creates in which you and your colleagues must thrive and bloom? How is it for you? What do you notice about how others are faring? Are there things you are appreciating? How could your situation be more productive? Think of a constructive way to communicate your observations and needs to your peers and leaders. They may appreciate the support!
Now think of yourself in your role as leader—are your people trying to bloom in the rubble between the train tracks or are you creating a healthy field? What kind of nutrients are you providing—room to move, opportunities to learn, encouragement, clear feedback and agreements?
Consider the poppies. The conditions you are creating, consciously and unconsciously, for yourself and others have a direct impact on the health, bloom, and generativity of those in your care. Real leaders fertilize!