Weeds freak me out. They’re gnarly, thorny, and beast looking. They make my skin crawl. They start out looking small and harmless, and before you know it they’re taking over your backyard. They’ll unashamedly colonize any unoccupied territory.
Still, as much as I despise weeds, there are some great lessons to be learned from these wily plants. To quote poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”
So here are 6 lessons that weeds can teach us about cultivating a successful productive life. Like weeds, we should:
- Flourish and grow rapidly: We all know the cliché “growing like a weed.” Growth and development is an essential part of successful living (spiritual, emotional, and physical). Are you growing your self-awareness muscle? Are you expanding your emotional vocabulary? Have you identified societal problems that need solving? You can’t give away what you don’t have.
- Be unafraid to colonize new territory: Weeds are unconscious pioneers. Leave a patch of land unoccupied, and before you know it, weeds have invaded the space. Likewise, we should seize every opportunity to occupy our sphere of influence and expand it. When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone? Or tried something new?
- Be resilient: Ever tried to rid your garden of weeds? You pull them out and before you know it, they’ve resurfaced. Weeds can thrive in harsh climates, including those devoid of water and nutrition. To weather the storms of life, we too must be able to stand in the midst of strife. Suffering is part of cultivating the depth of our being. Experiencing hardship is needed to understand the joy of being alive. Do you embrace change or hardship? Do you welcome new challenges or shy away from them?
- Establish a strong root system: Weeds grow deep. If you want to prevent them from growing back, you must pluck the roots out. Ask anyone about their secret to success and they’ll emphasize the importance of family, community, and a strong support system. What keeps you grounded?
- Remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder: The definition of a weed is subjective, so I’ve learned. One person’s weed might be another person’s food, flower, or medicine. Take the dandelion for example. It’s considered a weed by some and a child’s flower by others – I love picking dandelions and blowing wishes with my Princess. And so in life, perception is everything. Oh the places you’ll go if you’d just open your mind to different experiences. How do you see yourself? Are people’s perceptions of you limiting your potential?
- Be adaptable: Weeds can thrive anywhere, and with diverse species. Adaptability – the ability to handle change (or be changed) and to thrive in varied settings – is a crucial leadership skill, and an important competency in emotional intelligence. Why? Because adaptability requires tremendous empathy and social awareness, attributes that are needed to work and play well with others. How high is your emotional intelligence?
At the beginning of this blog post I had a strong disdain for weeds, now, I appreciate their relevance to society. What lessons have you learned from weeds? Let me know in the comments.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “In a Crisis.”