On my way to a professional staff retreat I had a moment of extrapolating a transferable lesson where I could have been frustrated. I had never been to the location before so I programmed the address into my GPS and was following the directions however the last turn it suggested was inaccurate as the location had a different entrance. So there I was driving along a one-way street and the GPS says, “you have arrived” but there is no way to turn in. Grr. I had to wait until the GPS re-routed, navigate back to the highway going in the opposite direction, and try to the approach again. This time the route, though different, it was more familiar since I had been there before. Though I was still forging a new path and learning along the way I kind of knew what I was looking for this second time around.
As I drove I began thinking about the experience as it relates to life. You try to do something and fail or make a mistake and you have a choice to try again (re-route) or give up. If you try again you already know what not to do which can help you get farther than you did the first time and sometimes that is part of the process.
SQUIRREL (a reference from Disney Pixar’s Up meaning a distracted side bar) – When I first moved to Los Angeles I considered trying out for the LA Lakers and I heard stories about the try outs including that you never make it the first year. You experience it and then demonstrate commitment and the fortitude to come back the second year and “show your stuff”. This goes to show that sometimes the system is designed for you not to succeed the first time around.
So, I made it to the staff retreat and the theme was “Bloom Where You Are Planted” which reaffirmed my thinking about the cyclical nature of growth and life. Plants bloom in order to flower and produce seeds then they “re-root”. During a reflection activity I processed with a co-worker what I felt after finishing my dissertation after 26 years of school. I felt so lost for direction in part because my identity was as a student for so many years that making the transitioning into an unknown space was difficult. My co-worker shared similar feelings around having transitioned from full-time work to part-time work / full-time school. We talked about what “blooming where you are planted” meant. We decided that the phrase / theme meant making the best of your situation and taking what you learned to help you move forward; to be okay where you are; and while being present continue to strive for somewhere else.
A few weeks after the staff retreat I had another chance to share this thinking after a different co-worker whose proposal for a professional development opportunity wasn’t accepted. I texted them the following:
I heard from someone that N.O. stands for Next Opportunity. 🙃
It’s hard now but when you find your path it will make sense later.
It’s okay to feel disappointed. You put a lot into this just don’t stay down too long. 🤓
Sometimes you have to make a wrong turn or miss a turn to come back around (reroute on the gps) and you know better how to navigate the second time around… This too is part of your journey.
The next step right now is feeling this and letting this feeling motivate you to not return here anytime soon…
Now that I am aware of this metaphor and it’s lessons I more easily see places where it is applicable and for that I am truly grateful. I look forward to (1) blooming no matter where my journey takes me, (2) being okay where I am, (3) leaning into discomfort when things don’t go where I thought they would or should and (4) persevering towards next opportunities or NOs…