When I was a boy of 11 or 12 years old, I discovered the process of germination in school. The idea that you could put a tiny seed in the ground and it would become a fruit-bearing plant or tree was fascinating to me. I loved climbing the trees in my Kingston backyard – mango, ackee, breadfruit and sweetsop – and was in awe of this wonder of nature. So much so, that I needed to test the process for myself.
Since I liked ‘red peas’ soup, it made sense to produce some red kidney beans (I know, it’s a Jamaican thing) because I was told that they would be ready in just a few weeks. I persuaded my grandma to invest a percentage of her stash for the coming Saturday’s soup in my project, with a promise that she would see a handsome return in no time at all. I found a nice clear patch of earth at the bottom of the garden, between two Julie mango trees, and started digging. An hour later, the beans were planted and the ground watered – my future as a farmer had begun in earnest. Now all I had to do was wait.
And wait. I don’t remember how long it was but it seemed like a very long time. Maybe this germination thing didn’t really work; well, not for everybody. Maybe the beans were too dry or I hadn’t watered them enough. Or, maybe I had given them too much water and they drowned. There was only one thing to do – dig them up and see what had happened. I decided to give them one more day, just in case. When I got home the next afternoon I strolled casually to my plantation, pretending not to care, and that’s when I saw them – bright green arches protruding from the dark brown soil. In a couple of days I was the proud owner of a thriving mini-farm and it seemed like the most natural thing in the world.
I recalled this episode while sitting in church this morning, listening to Pastor Tony talk about how to be happy, regardless of your circumstances. The evidence he presented was quite compelling: persecutor-turned-apostle Paul converted thousands of Romans to Christianity while spending two years in jail. During his incarceration, he wrote a series of letters to fledgling churches in Europe and Asia that eventually became ‘books’ in what we now know as the New Testament, itself responsible for the conversion of millions more. I’m not sure what conditions were like in a Roman jail but I doubt it would meet modern standards for humane treatment. And yet, during such a tough time, Paul decided to be happy and to use the opportunity to do some good. Ultimately, he became one of the greatest writers the world has ever known.
The last six months have been quite challenging for me as I manage a ‘conversion’ of my own – the transition from head of a state government agency to author, speaker and consultant (again). Writing a book, The More3 Formula, and other decisions I’ve made, have been quite deliberate and calculated but the seeds have been slow to germinate and take root. There have been many times, including early this morning, when I’ve been tempted to dig everything up to see why it’s taking so long or abandon the process altogether. And each time it happens, I see a small green shoot miraculously sprouting from what looks like barren earth.
Sometimes it’s a phone call, email, invitation or contract that encourages me to keep going. Other times, it’s been loans, gifts or amazing support-in-kind for my book launch, from friends and colleagues who have been generous beyond words. And sometimes, it’s a message on a Sunday morning – crafted to appeal to a whole congregation but somehow feeling like it was meant just for me. The idea that if you keep doing the right thing, with a positive attitude and a clear purpose, that you will eventually rise above your circumstances and make an impact far beyond anything you can imagine right now.
The worst thing about being cheerful and positive in the face of obvious challenges is that it creates the perception in loved ones that perhaps you don’t really care about the difficulties that exist. Somehow, when you seem worried it appears that you care more deeply about solving those problems. However, the truth is that you will be less effective in finding lasting solutions and succeeding over the long term, if you are constantly in a negative state of mind.
So, what to do? Keep getting up, going out and making a contribution. Enlarge your circle of influence, become known for solving problems, and create opportunities for yourself and others. Keep on learning, teaching and surrounding yourself with people smarter and wealthier than you are. Always do your best work.
If you’re planting the right seeds, they will sprout and eventually bear fruit. Have faith – the belief in things unseen – that somewhere beneath the surface, everything is working perfectly.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” – Vivian Greene
Michael D. Williams is the author of number one bestselling book, The More3 Formula, a practical guide for entrepreneurs to create exponential profits through superior customer service. He is an international marketing consultant and senior manager with extensive experience of creating successful marketing campaigns, developing organisations and building partnerships. To book Michael Williams as a speaker or consultant, contact him at: email@example.com or +234 703 335 7123. The More3 Formula is available on Amazon.com