By: Eric Betts
While Christmas season is considered the most wonderful time of the year, it may be argued that spring is the most beautiful time of the year. After a long and cold winter, new life and bright greenery appear. It is great to see the trees and the bushes and the branches bloom at this time of the year. One of the things that you will notice during the spring season is that trees and bushes bloom in many different places. They bloom in the countryside. They bloom in the mountains. They bloom on the sidewalks of the city streets. They bloom in the fields and in the forests. No matter where they are planted, they have the capacity to bloom.
The tree that I enjoy seeing bloom more than any other is the cherry blossom tree. I enjoy seeing them bloom at the National Mall and around Washington DC. Thousands travel from around the world every year to see and behold the beauty of the wonderful cherry blossom trees in our nation’s capital. The flowers of the cherry blossom tree typically last only 2 weeks. So it is important to enjoy them while they last.
But the tree that amazes me the most is the almond tree. The flowers of an almond tree are stunning in appearance. While, the cherry blossom tree is amazingly gorgeous, there are many lessons that can be learned from the almond tree. These lessons can be learned when observing the growth process of the almond tree. It begins with what appears to be deadness, then afterwards miniature buds, they further grow beautiful blossoms, and finally nutritious almonds.
Almonds go through many seasons and temperature variations, but they bloom where they are planted. They also bloom when the time comes for them to do so. Additionally, their time to flower is not the end of the process. Their time to bloom is merely preparatory to their service to mankind in the form of the actual almond.
According to tropicalfoods.com, “The almond is the product of an almond tree and almost all of the world’s wholesale almonds come from California. Farmers grow almond trees throughout the year and harvest them between the months of August to October.”
Although almond trees grow beautiful blossoms and nutritious almonds, the process requires the many seasons. Such growth would not be possible without the winter months of coldness and harsh conditions. Notice what tropicalfoods.com has to say about the importance of the winter to the almond tree: “From November to February, the buds of the almond tree need to go through the cold weather, but it’s a balance since they can be negatively impacted by a heavy frost. In late February and early March, the almond tree begins to produce blossoms that are ready for pollination.” The buds need the cold weather, and the buds produce the blossoms.
In leadership, we often experience cold and harsh realities. We later learn that those harsh conditions, including cold and unfriendly settings, though difficult and undesirable in the moment, were helpful on the road to our own maturity where we are able to excel in other places. Those circumstances seemed unbearable, and they may have not always seemed helpful, but we were able to grow from them. The bud that is prepared in winter will blossom at the right time.
Additionally, once the bud flowers in the spring, this is not the end of the journey, but only a stage to fruitfulness. I liken this blossoming process to the experience of that leader who has achieved his opportunity, passed that exam, graduated from that college, or promoted within that industry. It is a season of being noticed, congratulated, praised, and respected in one’s field of expertise. In this season of blooms and blossoms, it is important not to compare yourselves with others. Many say to themselves, “I should have bloomed by now, considering my age.” Take confidence in knowing that everyone has their own time and place to bloom.
From early spring to summer, the almond tree begins to transform the blossoms into an almond. There is an additional lesson in this season of the almond tree. The blossoms don’t last long. The blossoms must yield the almonds in order for the tree to be serviceable. The flower is your potential and sign of promise during the moments of your congratulations and praise, but this will soon wear away as do the blossoms of spring. However, this is not the end but the beginning to committing oneself and becoming serviceable in the arena where one is planted. This is the time to make the greatest contribution one can possibly make. The blossoms are the promise and potential, but these are not enough. There must also be an excellence in performance and in contribution after the flower has faded. This is the most important phase. Yes! Enjoy the blossom period of your journey, while it lasts. It will go away. However, when it goes away, I hope you will be found producing in your field of knowledge.
And finally, bloom wherever you are planted.
By: Eric Betts
Assistant Director, Curtis Coleman Center for Religious Studies and Ethics at Athens State University