Exploring The Inner Game

When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticise it as “rootless and stemless.” We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don’t condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticise the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies, Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.

Timothy Gallwey from The Inner Game of Tennis


This is a reminder to treat the development of our projects, careers, colleagues, loved ones and ourselves with the same patience and respect that we’d show the growth of a rose. There is a natural timeline for the development of things and some things just take as much time as they take.


Remember the rose doesn’t look anything like a rose when it’s a seed. In fact, it only looks like a healthy full bloom for a short part of its life cycle. There’s the time when it’s a seed, small, full of potential, but it doesn’t even look like a plant. Then there’s the moment the seed germinates and the potential locked within the seed shows its first signs of life. There’s quite a journey from there to the appearance of a rosebud – during which time the plant needs to survive the different weather conditions that arise. The moment the bloom opens is the moment we celebrate as though this is the only time we ‘have a rose’. But surely it’s better and more rewarding to be just as in love with the whole life cycle, all the steps taken from seed to fruition.


The next step is the withering of the rose, as the petals fall away. The end of that particular flower makes room for the next bud on the rosebush, or for the hep that remains to give up its seeds for a new plant.


The rose lives and dies in its own time. We can try and control the conditions and environment around it to make it healthier and stronger, but time and nature are going to take their course. There are seasons in the lifetime of a rose, just as there are for you, me, our projects and careers.


Where in your life are you spending energy wishing that something would happen at the speed you want it to happen, and in the way you want it to progress? Is there an opportunity to step back and remember that this thing, this process or this person has its own timeline? You can generously demonstrate your patience and love for the whole process rather than focussing on a specific moment or outcome where it will be done/right/complete.


We don’t benefit from criticising ourselves or others for being “rootless and stemless,” whatever that might mean in your circumstance. We do benefit from nourishing the people and ideas around us with our patience, understanding, love and encouragement.


Full disclaimer: as you may be able to tell, I’ve never actually grown a rose. I’ve learned more about roses in a few hours of googling than I’d ever known. I’m going to have more appreciation for each and every rose I see from now on. This leads back to the idea of showing your work. There are many occasions where instead of hiding the work that goes into the final product, putting it on full display actually helps us appreciate the outcome more. How might that affect the way you share the process behind your work?

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