I closed my MacBook and dropped my head on the desk. Shutting my eyes, I let out an audible sigh. No one was left in the office but me. It was May and I could feel the late afternoon sunlight warm my face.
While the empty office was at peace, my mind was far from it. I had just suffered yet another devastating blow in my sales job. A prospect I had been working on for a year just told me it would be another six months until they could buy. Another six months? I thought. I wasn’t sure I had that much time left.
Ever since I took this sales job, I felt like I had been chasing a goal that was never in reach. With this deal falling through, it would be my fourth straight quarter missing the mark. It was like I had been thrust into this torturous game without ever understanding the rules.
I lifted my head from the desk and stood up. Feeling a bit dizzy and hungry, I peaked out the window. There was still some sunlight and the benches in Bowling Green were emptying out. People were heading home.
I packed up my stuff and took the elevator to the lobby. I stepped out and let the cool spring air hit my face. The air filled my lungs and I felt momentary relief. Walking across Broadway, I found a seat in the now desolate park. Another day was gone, sitting up in that office, while the world carried on without me. Plugging in my headphones, I turned to Frank Ocean for solace.
How much had changed in a year. Just thirteen months before I had left my financial sales job where, for three years, I had consistently been a top performer. Now I was in uncharted territory. I was failing miserably at this tech startup. It didn’t make sense. I was the same person and applied myself just as much, but the results were unbelievably different.
I stroked my beard and eyed the fountain in the middle of the park. Surrounding the fountain were hundreds of carefully planted tulips shooting up from the soil. Some must’ve gotten more sunlight than others because a third of them were in bloom while the rest were still budding.
Closing my eyes again, I tried to make sense of my situation. While I was failing at this sales job, I was doing pretty well in the other aspects of my life. I had found a girlfriend upon moving to New York and my blog was growing at an amazing clip. What’s more is that all the people I had been coaching were seeing amazing results. One guy got promoted. Another switched industries. A woman I worked with had her confidence restored.
I opened my eyes again and focused in on the tulips. Frustrated with myself, I almost got up to head home when a lesson I had heard from famed Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, came rushing back to me.
Hanh said to look at a flower and ask yourself, when does a flower really become a flower? Is it when it’s a seed? When it’s a stem shooting up from the ground? Or when it’s fully bloomed?
The answer is that it is a flower the whole time.
The life of the flower is a continuum and the only reason we consider a seed, a stem and a flower to be different from one another is because of the labels we as humans place on them.
I thought about my own life again. Much like these budding tulips, I had not bloomed. But this didn’t mean I wasn’t the flower. I was growing and I was finding my way towards the sunlight. Someday, I too would bloom. I was sure of it.
Night settled on the park and the city lights started glowing around me. Tomorrow would be another day for more of these flowers to bloom.
I got up and walked to the subway. I thought to myself that whatever happened over the coming months with this sales job, I would keep moving forward. I would keep growing in my own way until I realized my potential – until I bloomed.
I could see now that I already was the flower. I had nothing to worry about. I already was what I would become.