As those of you who follow this blog regularly, know – there’s nothing better than finding a lesson in one of life’s most mundane activities – and translating that into action.
Introduction of The Protea Mission.
Here’s the Educational Bit: The Protea is South Africa’s national flower. In fact, such a favourite that we named our National Cricket Team after the flower. But it’s not just an ordinary flower. The journey in life that this plant takes is a remarkable one filled with struggle, hopelessness and sure death, followed abundantly radiant glory as it fills most of the open spaces throughout South Africa with it’s beauty. You see, the Protea seed only germinates through fire, and smoke. So it goes without saying that when the tragedy of the all-to-common bush fires take over the mountains of South Africa after a dry and windy spell, there’s a sense of hope in amidst all of that, where you can be sure that out of the ashes these incredible plants will rise in full splendour.
But the sad part.
They only really grow well in South Africa. As part of the indigenous Fynbos vegetation, trying to have a little bit of home when you’re living in the opposite hemisphere is somewhat of a challenge.
But that didn’t stop me this week.
So, in order to simulate the perfect germinating environment, I gathered as many dry leaves and twigs that I could find, and made a fire in an old baking tray. Creating the perfect smoky smouldering consistency by adding water and mixing it all together, I then added some ordinary river sand. (Proteas, ironically, don’t like very nutritional soil. As long as it drains well, they’re happy).
Completely contradictory to my gardening know-how – I tried to strip back as much goodness as I could – to emulate the perfect growing condition for what I hope would be an incredible thing.
I got to thinking about what this means in our working worlds.
All too often, we give too much. We give what we think our clients need. We overshare, overdo, overcommit. We try to be what they’re not, and we try to think where they aren’t. But how many times do we as business providers end up confused as to why it just simply did not work?
Why, when we’ve given SO MUCH?
Well, perhaps like my tiny little fluffy Protea seeds, maybe, just maybe, we should have spent more time looking at what their perfect conditions should have been, and focused more on emulating that in order to produce the best damn looking specimen you’ve ever seen. Maybe then we would have delivered exactly what they needed.
So even if my little seeds never sprout their sticky green heads above the ashes and dirt, and I never have the joy of seeing a King Protea standing tall in my front garden, at least I know that these little buddies have left a resonating impression on me, and the way that I interpret “perfect conditions”.