I have developed a new obsession over the past few weeks: the desire for a lotus pond in my balcony. Growing a lotus isn’t easy. For the breathtaking beauty it blesses you with, it demands a lot of attention, detail, and constant care. I got into it, fully aware of this. It’s a lot like growing roses (which I do too) but only tougher.
Now, I had two ways to go about this. One, buy a readymade plant or lotus tuber from a nursery; two, grow it from a seed. I could’ve gone the first way, which would have been a lot easier. I would have probably got faster results. I may have even seen the flowers I’m longing to see. However, I chose to grow it from seeds. And here I am, carefully germinating the seeds, changing the water every day, and watching the tender roots and leaves sprout. I’m nothing short of a mother watching her babies grow. This week, for instance, I have a huge step ahead: I need to transplant the seedlings to their little pond and watch over them till they are healthy and happy in their new forever home.
Attitude of an entrepreneur
Now, what does this teach me? Perseverance? Patience? Yes, all of it. Gardening, in general, imparts all of those lessons. But lotus growing, in particular, reminds me of entrepreneurship. Now, one doesn’t have to be an entrepreneur to show entrepreneurship. It’s an attitude more than anything else. A sense of ownership, willingness to fail, learn and obsessive dedication.
When you grow a lotus, you become completely responsible for it. You are aware that it may not flower when you want it to; that you need to wait for it patiently. The lotus seed is still very young and is taking time to understand and adapt to its environment. You also know that the initial growth phase is crucial and needs all your care. Similarly, when you work in an organisation, you need to pay close attention to establishing roots there, to understand the environment and become sensitive to it.
Just like growing a lotus, you have two ways of developing yourself in an organisation. You can do as you’re told and you may get to the goal faster; the risks are less, you’re just obeying orders and the onus is still largely on the leader. It’s like purchasing the lotus plant from the nursery. You’re looking at the safer option.
Now, if you want to truly learn and grow, you need to take a few risks. You need to be willing to fail, learn from those mistakes, take ownership for the work you’re responsible for. This will take you longer, perhaps. But the results will be sweeter. You will be a lotus grower. Or an entrepreneur, in the true sense of the term. You don’t need to own a company, head a department or be a people manager to show that you’re an entrepreneur. All you need is the spirit of the lotus grower.
So, the next time you’re assigned a new project or you join a new team or organisation, remember the lotus garden. Choose to grow it from the seed. Be an entrepreneur. Always.
Anupama Raju is a poet, novelist, translator, and literary journalist. She’s also a communications professional and works at UST, a leading digital services company. Views expressed are personal. @anupamaraju