You probably have stumbled across the popular admonition to bloom where you are planted. It sounds encouraging, but it may not be the wisest advice. In fact, growing a business requires fertile soil.
One of the most memorable examples of this comes from author Stewart Emery in his insightful book, Actualizations. He writes, "If you were a willow tree living by the riverside, the environmental conditions that support your evolution toward becoming a fully actualized willow tree.
"If, on the other hand, you were a willow tree and you were planted in the desert, the chances of your making it would be virtually nil."
He goes on to point out that the difference between a willow tree and us is that we have the ability to move ourselves into an environment that supports our growth.
I have just watched a most dramatic example of that with my granddaughter Zoe who recently transplanted herself. Now in the sixth grade, Zoe was a good, but not enthusiastic, student in her traditional elementary school. After paying a visit to a local charter school, she was ready to switch.
Here's what her mother had to say about what's happened: "Since transferring to a project based school 8 weeks ago, Zoe has signed up for two new sports, is in the process of creating an art project to help endangered animals, wants to join the school's sketch comedy group and is now writing her first novel. The artist has been re-awakened."
The change in Zoe is profound. Apparently, Rumi knew what he was talking about when he advised, "Be with those who help your being."
As Stewart Emery warns, "If we persist in seeing ourselves as victims of an environment over which we have no control, then we will lead a colorless existence as members of the living dead." It doesn't have to be that way.
If you're self-employed, you can (and must) create an environment that supports your growth. It begins with an awareness of what feeds your soul, what calls your best self to come out and play, and what people inspire that in you. Become clear about the activities that turn on your creative spirit.
There's a simple, but powerful, exercise in the wildly successful The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Author Marie Kondo, who is motivating millions to get rid of the clutter, suggests that you challenge each item in your environment to this test: does it bring me joy? If not, it goes out. If it does bring joy, it remains.
That five-word question can do more than just help us clean out our closets. It can inspire us to create our own richest environment, the one where we discover we are capable of doing more, being more. It's the place next to our personal riverside.