When I was eleven, I to stay home from school for a week because of a poison ivy rash. I started to get bored. The idea came to plant a garden. Although I knew nothing about gardens, I prepared the ground, bought some carrot seeds, and planted them. Time went by and the carrots began to sprout. I kept returning to look at the sprouts. I did so with a sense of awe. I had taken action and seeds turned into carrots. I had done work and a new life form materialized. It was amazing to me.
Recently I was working in the morning with senior executives. One of the participants shared a tough issue. He offered it as a challenge to a point I was making. He believed it was unsolvable. Instead of telling him that he could apply a certain strategy, I told him two contrasting stories and allowed him to ponder and apply.
Later at lunch he made it a point to cross the room, stop at my table, and tell me he was appreciative for what I shared and even more appreciative for how I shared. His expression of gratitude made me feel the way I felt when I looked at my carrots.
In the foyer, I encountered a colleague. He spoke of the workshop for doctoral students that was going on in the basement. It was a voluntary, one-week experience. Students had come in from all over. He said the material was exciting and the conversations were intense. He expressed how much he appreciated the phenomenon.
I told him I could tell of his appreciation because, as he talked, he was glowing. This caused him to pause. He is a critical thinker who is not into “glowing.” To my surprise, he did not object. He said, “Organizing this was a ton of work. I am getting no pay and no credit, but you are right: I just love this.”
As he walked away, I thought of the session I had just taught, and I thought of my carrots. Every person has influence. This means we all have the opportunity to teach or lead. If we take advantage of our opportunities, we improve and turn positive. We learn to prepare the relational soil and plant seeds. When we see the seeds sprout, we have a sense of awe. We experience the realization of our contributive desire. We rejoice in our labor because it is contribution. I am grateful for opportunities to teach and to lead. I am grateful for opportunities to glow.
- Is my work a source of income and a source of joy?
- Are the people around me growing?
- How often do my influence episodes leave me with a sense of awe?
- How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?