“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” Martin Luther
The other day a client shared with me her frustration with a project at work. She was convinced that the project was going to blow up, that there was no way she could meet the deliverables and the deadlines, and that her world would, in fact, go to pieces.
I listened to her share and allowed her the time and space she needed to vent her anxiety and fear. And then I asked her the question that so often creates defining moments. “What do you want?” I posed. “And what would you do, if you knew you could not fail?”
The answer burst out of my client quickly. “Oh, I’d finish the project,” she shared. “I’d definitely finish the project.” And with that statement I could hear a change in her voice. She was now noticeably filled with determination not frustration, with a bit of excitement and power rather than disillusionment and disgust.
“Well, that’s clear then,” I simply offered. “So how do you want to move forward, and what do you want to do, or not do, next?” With these questions my client was off and planning – reflecting on how she needed to partner better with certain colleagues and step out of specific decisions, and on how she needed to better manage expectations around the deliverables and deadlines that she found insurmountable. She knew what to do and was planting her apple tree, so that she could harvest the fruit if her world didn’t go to pieces.
Where have you stopped moving forward because of your certainty of failure – of your world going to pieces? What apple trees can you still plant?
Reflect on where you’ve dropped a project because of a story you’ve told yourself, and see what you can do to still plant your tree and do what you would do if you knew you could not fail.