Recently, I attended a weekend retreat as a way of recharging my batteries, reconfirming my purpose and finetuning my direction.
It was well worth the experience – shaking off a few lockdown induced cobwebs.
At these things, facilitators push you outside your comfort zone, challenge your thinking – or at least get you to think!
An icebreaker is used to start things off, and I thought, “no drama – done plenty of these!”.
I expected the icebreaker to be something like, “what creation of nature would you like to be?”
My go-to response is usually a tree because I stand tall; I like going on a limb; I respect my family roots; I’m content amongst nature; I drink plenty of water, and I like a scenic view! Works every time!
Instead, they asked a twofold question –“what type of fruit would you like to be and what type of tree would you have to be, to produce that fruit?”
What a stupid question I thought! But it got me thinking.
What type of fruit would I like to be? An avocado because it’s full of good fat?! A blackberry or mulberry – my dietitian is always advising me to have plenty of dark berries in the afternoon?! An apple? A bit boring, and Adam and Eve killed that one! A friend of mine suggested that I should have chosen a prickly pear because that reflects my personality!
The second part of the question was more challenging.
If that’s the fruit I would like to be, what do I need to do to produce it?
It got me thinking about my life and the people I work with.
What type of person do I want to be (the fruits), and what do I need to do to be that person (the tree)?
It’s a great question, isn’t it? How would you answer it?
As we transition through life and get distracted by stuff that’s not that important in the long term (but is at that moment), how easily we lose our way and become so focused on becoming the person that we truly don’t want to be at all?
Somewhere on that retreat, I had an epiphany.
I wonder how much the negative ways we deal with people in different situations are caused by the gap between the type of person we want to be and the person we truly are?
I suspect a large part of this thing about happiness, or lack thereof, is whether there’s a gap between knowing the type of person I want to be, the actions I ought to be doing versus what I’m actually doing in reality?
Realising there’s a gap triggers a flight or fight response resulting in denial or conflict, causing the situation to get worse, and then being unable, unwilling, or just not knowing how to change the behavioural pattern.
It is often said that the seemingly happiest person in the room is the saddest. I would add that sometimes, the angriest person in the room is also the loneliest and most frightened.
In my role, I get to observe people in many situations – parenting, “adulting,” coming together, growing apart, assuming more assets and responsibilities through succession planning etc.
In these situations, I note that it’s not the big things people focus on; it’s the little things.
And the number of times I have found myself wondering, “really!? Is it truly that important to you?”
Yet people are prepared to die in a ditch about the little things – resulting in jealousy, anger, spite, despair, and other negative emotions.
Is that the fruit you want to bear? I trust not!
So, how do you produce good fruit? Like in most instances in life, the answer is simple and right in front of us. How do you keep a tree healthy?
You water it, nurture it, and nourish it. Same strategy for you!
Be crystal clear about the type of person you want to be, and make sure you’re acting and behaving accordingly.
Mix with good people – people who are prepared to call your BS if required, but in a nurturing and loving way.
Reach out. Have a big world of connections and activities.
Operate with an open and high heart – do things for other people in the expectation of getting little back and only because it’s the right thing to do.
Feed your soul with the good stuff!
Importantly, commit yourself to being a good person and hold yourself accountable to the expectation.
Good trees produce healthy branches that bear succulent fruit!
Be that tree!
Look after yourself, in order to look after your family, your friends, your community and your world.
Now for that person who described me as a prickly pear…!