Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. – Robert Louis Stevenson
What does that mean?
Here, the emphasis isn’t on enjoying collecting of the results at the end, but in the joy of getting things started. The form is agricultural, and notes that it takes time to reap. I would think this quote applies equally to children and to a business or charity startup as well.
I believe that the quote says that if you focus on planting, you will have a plentiful harvest. But if you focus on harvest, you might lose sight of how the harvest came about. The quote also infers that it will take time to reap your harvest. By focusing on the planting, you help to insure the harvest, even if you aren’t there to see it.
Why is patience important?
If you’ve ever worked with kids or plants, you know that patience is a vital part of getting anything done. You can’t hurry plant growth, you can only nurture the plants, provide them with what they need, and wait. Kids aren’t that much different. You can explain a concept to them dozens of times, but until their brain is ready, it just won’t click.
With patience, you keep nurturing the plant until it is time for harvest. With kids, your ‘harvest’ is when they are ready to move on. For teachers, it might be when they leave the class, prepared for the next class in sequence. For parents, it might be when they move out, it might be when they start a family, but each stage of their life is a ‘harvest’ of sorts, and can take years (or more) of patience to realize.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Patience is a virtue. But like any virtue, you can have too much or too little of it. Too little is rash, too much is sloth. Here, with both plants and kids (as well as business, charity or a group/organization), patience is a long-term wait (months to years), but rarely is sloth involved. There are always things to do. There is always pruning, teaching, a thousand minor adjustments going on, as you work towards harvest.
We focused on planting seeds with our kids. Getting them interested in how things work, igniting the desire to find out more about the world they live in. Getting them started in reading and math was part of it. We found for them fun shows like Mythbusters and a number of Discovery & Science Channel shows to feed their brains.
Now, they are ahead of their peers, and the seeds we planted a decade ago are coming to harvest. However, like a farmer, a parent’s work is never done. While each year may bring a harvest, it also brings new season of planting.
For me, agriculture was never a strong suit. I’ve managed to kill several cacti and consider myself to have a “black thumb” (the anthesis of a “green thumb”). However, with my kids, I’ve done a bit better. With them, I started with a goal in mind.
For me, the goal was to get them to a point where they are thinking, functioning, and contributing members of society. I kept with a broad definition of success, so as to allow them as much latitude in finding their own way as possible.
So how do you stay patient? I do it by imagining where the seeds I plant will take them. Whether it’s nurturing a child, or sending a colleague to a seminar, think of what that seed will do for them. Enjoy the planting, and keep your patience by using your imagination.
To me, patience is a game within a game. How do you get patience? You have to practice patience. If you don’t have any, you will have to start somewhere. Choose something you can delay, even slightly.
Move your desert from immediately after dinner to a point later in the evening. Perhaps you can delay your desert until after you have spent some time doing something else. Read a chapter in a book, call a friend, play a game with the kids, watch a TV show, work on a project.
Another way is to find someone who is irritating and develop your patience by putting up with them for a while. Start with just saying “Hi!” and move on to going to lunch with them. While this does work on your patience, it also works on tolerance and compassion. Off topic, but still useful skills.
Understand that things won’t always go according to plan, so have patience. Also remember your patience when others fail. Understand no one is perfect and use their imperfections to help build your patience. Don’t fret, instead, wait patiently (don’t be antsy, be calm). Slow down, don’t rush. What other things can you think of to do that works in your life?
I’m sure with this as a starting point, you can build your patience as far as you are willing to push. Like any other behavior, patience is a skill of repetition. It won’t always be easy, but it should be fun.
Patience in waiting for the harvest is useful, but don’t forget to enjoy the planting of the seeds. That is where it all begins, isn’t it?
From: Twitter, @tonyrobbins
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/robertloui101230.html
Photo by AmberStrocel