Are You a Wildflower?
Wildflowers are the people who consistently act out of a belief that they shape their circumstances, not the other way around.
This weekend, my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. Despite the fires raging in northern California and the restrictions imposed by the ongoing pandemic, we were able to get away to the northern California coast for a couple days to celebrate. We spent much of our time walking along the coast, reading, eating great meals, and reflecting on a quarter-century of marriage. For most of our walks, we traversed along stretches of tall, steep bluffs with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. We took in the majestic beauty of the ocean set against the contrasting stretches of colorless and impenetrable thick, dry brush native to the coast.
On one particular walk, my wife noticed a beautiful wildflower that had somehow grown amongst the dry brush. We stopped and took a picture. We marveled at how this plant was able to find a way to survive and grow in the middle of such an inhospitable environment.
As we returned from our hike, it was hard not to notice the metaphor that the wildflower represents. Surrounded by fires both literal and figurative, I realized that there are wildflowers everywhere. People who have found the capacity to not just survive, but thrive in this environment. I began to see my wife and myself as wildflowers, two people determined to not just get by but to grow as individuals and as a couple even (and perhaps most importantly) when times are difficult.
Most importantly, I was reminded of my life work, which is best captured by Abraham Maslow, who once said, “What one can be, one must be.” This is what Maslow meant by self-actualization. That each of us has the capacity to be a wildflower – to grow regardless of conditions. I have imagined Maslow walking the same coastline in the last few years of his life after he relocated to the Bay Area. I picture him seeing his life work captured in the essence of the wildflower.
As seemingly remarkable as it is for a wildflower to thrive in the midst of the dry brush, so it may seem for the exceptional individual. Yet if you really pay attention, these individuals are all around us. The neighbor who is always friendly and passes by with a smile and a warm hello. The food server who surprises you with his enthusiasm and commitment to exceptional service. The friend of yours who always seems to focus on what’s good in life. The colleague who is always pushing herself to get better. These are the people who consistently act out of a belief that they shape their circumstances, not the other way around. These are the wildflowers who don’t need any cultivation, just the bare minimum conditions to allow their self-sufficiency and resourcefulness to take root. In the words of Dolly Parton, “Wildflowers don’t care where they grow.”
So what about you? Do you need the perfect soil, the right amount of sunshine and rain, the precise location to thrive and grow? Or, are you like a wildflower, committed to grow regardless of conditions? Like everything in life, you get to choose.
1. If you didn’t get a chance to watch Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, I recommend that you do. It’s a master class in virtue, maturity, and oratory.
2. This past Sunday, Kobe Bryant would have turned forty-two years old. Nike launched a 90-second film narrated by Kendrick Lamar to commemorate him. It reminds us of Kobe’s work ethic and commitment to “just be better.” #mambaforever
3. Last week, my firm The Trium Group co-planned a webinar on The New Future of Work. The webinar was hosted by Mary Daly, CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, who was joined by guests Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO, ThriveGlobal, Erica Brescia, COO, GitHub, and Nick Bloom, Professor of Economics, Stanford University.