The Potential to Be

When you look at a tree, what do you see?

Yes, okay, smart guy. You see the bark. The leaves. The branches. Potentially the small creatures and birds that call it home, the ecosystem it contains. You might also see something that gives life to humans on Earth by producing oxygen. (If you want to get that scientific or poetic about plants.)

Now, imagine someone else is looking at that same tree. What may they see?

Maybe lots of books that could be made from the tree. Maybe a really nice mahogany table or cherry tree chair. Heck, they may even see toilet paper. At any rate, they are seeing the tree chopped down and then chopped up into smaller pieces. They see the tree as it could be, not as it is now.

So, who is right?

Both are correct. Simply because trees serve multiple purposes, living or dead. It simply comes down to what stage of the process the tree is in, and what potential can be seen in it at that time.

Now, erase the tree from your mind, and think about the last time that you faced rejection or pain due to the fact that you did not fit the mold. That you didn’t meet the expectations of others. That you didn’t fill a position or a void for someone. Of course this is hard to experience. But again, your perspective isn’t the only one to consider.

If you have experienced this feeling, it means that someone has looked at you during a different stage in the process. It means that someone has perceived you and thought “paper” instead of “ecosystem.” It wholly depends on what they are seeing, not on who you are.

My general point is that you can be more than one thing at a time. But if people aren’t able to see past something or aren’t able to see you, it’s due to how they are perceiving you at a current moment, not with how much potential you have. And that’s okay. A tree is not offended to be called paper. It is simply useful. A tree is not offended to be called a shelter for others. It is simply useful.

Remember that you are useful in whatever stage of the process (AKA life) that you are in, even if it is hard to see right now. There is as much potential in a seed as there is in a fully grown tree.

Don’t Call It A Plan B

No, the title of this post is not a suggestion to the marketing team of the pill for unwanted pregnancies. It’s a call to action for your life. Unfortunately, it was inspired by true events in my own job quest.

I received my first official rejection letter today from a company I was very interested in working for. I plan to hang it up in a place of honor because it is undoubtedly the first of many. But that’s not my low self-esteem talking, although it will give you an ear-full if you let it. I’m simply acknowledging that you can’t win them all, and that there is a grain of truth to the sentiment that some things are simply meant to be or not. And that’s that.

These composed and mature ideas were not my first thoughts when I slit open the envelope that contained the rejection letter on my dining room table. Actually, my first string of words upon finding the word “However,” in a dense mass of text in the letter are a bit too vulgar to repeat here.

But once I was able to ruminate on the experience a bit, a familiar motto floated into my head: “everything happens for a reason.” And with a deep sigh, I knew this to be true. But when I began to think about my next plan of action, the words “plan B” took root in my head, and I recoiled. Should any of us refer to any opportunity as a plan B? What, exactly, makes it secondary? And why do we allow ourselves to pursue a “secondary” plan instead of making a new “primary” one?

This terminology suggests that when we don’t get something we want, we are simply settling. It says that we will only pursue second best if our first choice is out of our reach or eliminated as a possibility. But what makes it so?

I openly reject this thought process. If you needed a reminder about your potential on this cold Tuesday night, here it is: never settle and never give up. If something didn’t work out, it wasn’t supposed to. If you’re still breathing, it’s not over.

Call it God’s work, call it the universe’s abundance, or call it luck that you are where you are, but don’t call your next move plan B. And in that vein, don’t work towards your plan B. Any chance you get at achieving your dreams requires you to pursue your plan A. See everything as a possibility that will help to strengthen your career or your character, no matter how diverse the opportunity is from your original goal. Perceive your next interview or date as your top choice.  If it isn’t a plan A in the first place, don’t pursue it. And if it doesn’t work out, find a new plan A.

Here’s another friendly reminder: you don’t have to have it all figured out. You can go ahead and read that again because I know it didn’t sink in the first time. People will tell you that you should, and they’ll act very prepared when they are around you, but they don’t know what they are doing, either. The plain and simple truth is this: if you follow your passion, you’ll never have to look very far for your next move.

So, with this in mind and my heart in hand, I’m reaching for that next plan A. Are you?