Tend To Your “Seedlings”

In Massachusetts, where I live, it finally feels like Spring. As my family and I have tended to seedlings for our vegetable garden, I’ve been thinking about how the process of caring for these fragile plants connects with our own work in these unusual times. Many of us have put important projects – professional and personal creative projects – on hold. And for a few weeks it seemed like this might be a short-term change. But as the weeks went on and we’ve all realized these are long-term changes, we’ve also been faced with more of a reckoning. Some projects now can’t happen at all. Some can move forward just as they were. But what about the projects that were still just ideas or in very early stages of growth? If you don’t have the time to develop them fully – or the current situation makes that unfeasible – should they just… wait? 

For a long stretch of the Spring in Massachusetts, it’s too cold outside at night for many seeds to be planted in the ground. The environment would not allow them to thrive – as is true with many of our projects in the idea stage. But if we had waited to plant seeds until the outside environment was ready, the plants would not have enough time to grow and bear fruit before the end of the growing season. Similarly, by waiting too long to develop our ideas, we may miss our window of opportunity, or lose interest and enthusiasm ourselves. So to prepare the plants for their outdoor growing season, we plant seeds in small pots inside, place them in a window where they get some sun, and tend to them daily with water. When the weather gets warmer – as it has now – we put them outside for long stretches during the day, to begin their acclimation to the world outside. It takes work every day to keep young plants alive and growing in this stage. But if we neglect them for too long, they won’t survive.

So how does that relate to your projects?

This week’s tip:

Tend to your projects – both professional and personal – that are in the idea stage. Ask yourself: “What are the small daily steps that I can take to move these ideas forward so they can be ready to take root when they move to the world outside?” What is their equivalent of water, heat and sunlight? What do your projects need to grow? Find a trusted friend, colleague or mentor to speak to ask for feedback, to give the ideas some stretches of ‘time outdoors’ while they’re still developing. 

Try this out this week, and let us know how it goes in our Facebook group! We’d love to hear from you. As always, you can subscribe to our feed here, or sign up for our weekly newsletter to get these articles directly in your inbox.

Published by Ian Jackson

Ian Jackson is the founder of Building Bridges Leadership, which works with individuals, teams, and organizations to create authentic community in the workplace. He also writes children's fiction and teaches creative writing.

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