Monday, January 14, 2008

Lessons From an Acorn

Overachievers are always striving for more and trying to plan for the future. I agree with the old saying "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail," and am a strong proponent of creating a vision, setting goals, and following through on a plan of action.

BUT, when there is underlying tension or a deeper struggle within, it's very difficult to make progress on daily or weekly goals. There's something more pressing that needs to be attended to before that person can move forward.

This happened recently with a client of mine who was going through a particularly emotional time. She was dealing with a few deep-seated internal questions, but was also trying to figure out her next step in terms of career or school. At some point between our weekly discussions, we both independently came to the realization that priority #1 had to be greater emotional and mental clarity at this point in time. Progress on career issues wouldn't be possible until she had greater peace of mind. We shifted our discussions and exercises toward greater reflection and introspection, taking a step back from the career question so we could set the stage for future progress.

Like a true overachiever, at one point she felt guilty that she wasn't making progress on the "operational" aspects of exploring a new career. Well-meaning friends were asking her how her career change was going, and she felt unsettled and a bit sheepish that she was moving slowly. I assured her that externally it might not seem like much, but the progress she was making internally would have huge results in her life, both in the short- and long-term. Just like the acorn that germinates underground, it's doing a lot of work behind the scenes to prepare itself for the incredible growth above ground.

This period of personal and emotional progress is MUCH more important; by taking the time to learn about oneself and calm the internal storm, it can create a platform for true learning and change. Major and minor epiphanies of personal growth are always worth the time, especially since some of the lessons will help support us 5, 10, 20 years in the future.

She liked the acorn metaphor and agreed to focus on first creating a solid platform within instead of trying to rush the process. Yesterday she sent me this link that she felt accurately summarized her situation:
"Care of the soul can be demanding, requiring a decision that the needs of the soul are as important as the more future-oriented things that claim our attention." ~Thomas Moore (1779 - 1852)
I'm sure that anyone who has had to deal with a break-up, or death of a family member, or any other emotional ride has recognized the importance of what Thomas Moore calls "care of the soul."
  • Have you ever felt like an acorn - a lot of internal change, without much visible external progress?
  • Do you feel it's worth the time and investment to first "care for the soul" before moving on to the daily/weekly operational aspects of life?

1 comment:

foo said...

Lee, this post really resonates with me.