I started my summer vegetable garden a few weeks ago. It was cold outside, one of the coldest days we had this winter. I was craving spring and some warmth; this was a good activity to do indoors. I invited my family for this activity, and they had no interest. So, I planted my seeds into their little starting cups, alone.
I moved my seedlings to the garden this morning, now that they’re safe from the danger of frost. I could feel them calling to me, “We need more space to grow, lady!” At least, that’s what I imagined they were saying to me. These vegetable seedlings are different sizes and shapes, and were moving from a tiny indoor pot to giant outdoor garden. A few of them had barely sprouted; some parts hidden under the soil.
I don’t enjoy this part of gardening, the dirtiness of digging. I eventually discard my gloves and use my bare hands, because I do not feel connected to the earth. I have to give the right amount of love to these seedlings. When I am done, I look back one last time at the garden. It’s overcast outside, but I feel brightness on the horizon – the vegetables are coming.
I rush inside to shower the dirt off my body, and I am imagining summer. I wonder how big the tomatoes will be? Oh yum… I can make a great salsa… okay, back to reality.
Starting your own business is a tremendous challenge. Working with three people has advantages, but work style’s clashing is certainly a drawback. This is not uncommon in the workplace, or in other parts of life. Here we are now, the three of us, like those little seedlings in the garden, kicking up a lot of dirt from weeding and digging. This is known as forming and storming in the world of cubes and windows. Today, I picture us as the little seeds in my garden.
I realize, as this dust storm settles, that just like those seedlings we each have this different shape and size to our work. It’s what attracted our friendships and started this partnership. Jalapenos, tomatoes, cilantro, cucumbers… they’re all contrasting, yet somehow complimentary, as they work differently in a garden to bear their fruit. It can be easy to forget, during the passionate moments of a startup that everyone on your team has a different work style. Completely okay and normal, it’s impossible to live outside of your own head for more than a moment or two at a time.
I do not enjoy seeing a friend so frustrated. I do not enjoy getting dirty in the garden. I do not enjoy this tension on our business and our friendships. But, I do know a few things that bring me energy and joy to this journey.
People, like my plants, HAVE to work differently, and it may not be the way I work. I am going to learn that I am not always right when it comes to others needs. But I can be right if I recognize and accept this very basic fact. I know that the less I feud with my gut reactions, the less discomfort I will experience. Who really wants a salsa with only tomatoes in it anyway?
The second thing I know, as Gabrielle Bernstein eloquently says, “Healing opportunities can be disguised as people who really piss you off. Pay attention because they could be your greatest teacher.” Given the opportunity, we all would take the easy route. Garden vegetables would prefer a garden to a tiny cardboard starter-kit; they were probably really pissed off those few weeks in my house. But the real growth happens outside, once transplanted and safe from frost. I know the same is true for myself and the others I work with. I have faith in this process, in these people, despite how frustrated and irritated I am at a given moment. This is a teaching moment and I will see growth that will bear some delicious fruits later.
As you start any journey, whether it’s a new business, move to a new city, or start any new chapter of your life, I hope you can take these two seedlings of hope with you – diversity and challenges are essential to your growth. If you are open to the growing pains on your way to achieving your goals, there is a beautiful salsa waiting for you on the other side.