One of my clients is a small business owner, and we spent some time reflecting on the past few months.
My client Jeff (not his real name) shared how many fellow business owners in his area of work had shut down their businesses. But Jeff found that his business was doing okay.
I asked him why he thought his business was still open and others were closed. Jeff responded by sharing with me a story.
A month or two into the lockdowns due to the pandemic, Jeff happened to run into one of his colleagues Mary.
Mary told Jeff that she was depressed. She spent most of her waking hours watching the news, feeling like her whole world was falling apart. She felt clueless about how to keep her business going in this new reality because everything she had been doing all these years was no longer working. She told her friend Jeff that she was thinking of closing up her shop for good.
Jeff told Mary, “You have to stop thinking like this. And stop watching the news! You’re going to have to let go of how things used to be, because things aren’t working the same way anymore. Even the people who used to be doing well in our industry are now scrambling. You can make things change for the better. But first, you have to believe that things can be better. And if you want things to be different, you have to be different. Who are you called to be in this new environment?”
I remarked to Jeff how wise he was, and Jeff himself was shocked at his own positivity and insights, because looking at the glass as half-full was something new for Jeff too.
But I knew that Jeff wasn’t just spouting some niceties to his friend. Jeff had been focusing on his own personal growth these past couple of years. He'd been changing who he was to match the kind of life and world he wanted to create. And his life and business were direct evidence that he was adapting who he was to this new and changing environment, while remaining true to himself.
Jeff’s story reminded me of the fable of the oak tree and the reed.
One day, this huge mighty oak tree spotted a reed nearby and struck up a conversation.
The oak tree noticed that whenever a small wind would pass by, the reed would bend to the whim and the direction of the wind.
The oak tree laughed and made fun of the reed for not being strong and mighty, and for always bending to whichever way the wind blew.
But the reed remained quiet and didn’t respond.
Then, it so happened that a major windstorm came with such a force that it snapped the oak tree in two.
The reed, though it thrashed here and there in the storm, survived the winds. When it was all over, the reed stood strong while the oak tree had fallen.
I bring up this fable because there are times in life where you could ask yourself, are you more like the oak tree or like the reed?
Where in your life are you perhaps more like the oak tree, being more rigid and stuck in old ideas of how things are “supposed” to be?
If something isn’t working for you, there might be things that you’re doing that are stuck in old patterns, habits and behaviors.
This might look like not working out anymore because your gym is closed.
Or it might look like trying to do your work as business as usual, even though the working world overall has drastically changed.
Instead of being rigid like the mighty oak tree, where in your life can you be more like the reed, and allow more flexibility?
If your gym is closed, what are other kinds of activities you can do to get your body moving? (Bonus points to you if you can think of activities that are fun and make you feel more alive!)
With work, maybe take a look around and ask yourself how you can show up differently and be of greater service to the people around you?
What’s one new thing you can do to show up differently in the world, that’s aligned with the vision of who you want to be and the world you want to create?
Take the story of Jeff and Mary as a lesson for your own life.
Do you want to be more like the oak tree, or do you want to be more like the reed?
In the end, you get to choose.
And choose. And choose.
Every action you take can be a new choice. Every day you can choose anew.
Who are you called to be today?
Abundant Blessings and Namaste.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about today's article. Please feel free to leave a comment below.
Joselito is a spiritual life coach helping people create a purposeful, spiritual path to career and financial freedom.
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