An old allegory, recorded more than 2000 years ago by the inspired writers of the Gospels, tells of a man who sows seed in the garden. This fabled story is called the Parable of the Sower and can be read in full here. http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Matthew+13:1%E2%80%9323:1&version=nrsv
I’ve heard this story many times over, and always discover a new challenge in the way it applies to my life personally.
The fictitious man in this story throws healthy seed across his garden in hope of a bountiful crop. Some of the seed lands on thorny ground, and as the plant grows it gets choked. Other lands on the rocks with very little soil around it, and so the plants are weak and wither as they get scorched by the sun. Some seed even lands on the path, and the birds snatch it away. Only a portion of the seed lands where it was intended – in good, fertile soil. This is the only place it takes deep root. The seed that lands in the right spot grows to yield a 30, 60 and 90% return on effort.
What struck me in this recent reading, was that in all four instances, the seed was “good”. There was nothing wrong with the seed. It wasn’t not toxic, diseased or infertile. The same seed was scattered everywhere.
The result had everything to do with where the seed landed, not with what was being sown.
This is as true in our personal relationships, as it is in business. We can share the same encouragement, support, constructive criticism, mentorship, and friendship to everyone equally – but not all will respond the same. In speaking to different groups of people recently, I shared the same insights to help support them in leadership and entrepreneurship (seed), and each person took something very different from the experience. Some were motivated and inspired; others challenged; and even a few were offended.
What’s the difference? Is it the seed, or where it lands that counts?
One of my determinations in life is to own my choices and decisions. Life isn’t about what happens to me, but how I respond to it. I must take responsibility for the soil of my heart and mind. I think very carefully how I “receive” the world around me? Can I produce a healthy return from the seeds sown into my life, irrespective from where they come? How we each can make the most of the world around us, and not feel like the fault lies in the ‘seed’.
What can you do to cultivate the good soil of the family and peers around you? What weeds do you need to pull out in your own heart?
We think professional life is about corporate strategy, competitive advantage and empirical science. The longer my journey, I more I realise it’s about the rich, inward adventure of liking who you are becoming, and seeking to be significant in the world around you. The best way I know how to do this, is cultivate my own soil.
The grass has always been greener on the side I water.