You’re not taking that dead plant to Milan, my new husband said sternly as he stood on the loading ramp of the jam-packed moving van. We were beneath the home in Rome that I was leaving behind to embark on a new phase of my life with him.
I didn’t argue. Starting the journey with tension would make the 6-hour trip a looong drive. Still as I slipped into the passenger’s seat, I carefully placed the flowerpot on the floor between my feet.
All that was left of the once magnificent 6-foot (2-meter) dracaena my husband described as being dead was a fist-sized plant of 5 strap-shaped leaves. For ten years the exotic plant, whose name means female dragon in ancient Greek, added an elegant touch to my habitat.
In European traditions, dragons have wings that allow them to soar high in the sky, providing a perspective that encompasses a vast panorama below. Thus, dragons symbolize the ability to see the big picture as well as the ability to see far off danger or future circumstances. Given my frenetic and independent lifestyle, my dragon represented the ideal pet I came home to. Symbolically, she was a guardian and guide whose magic influence fueled my success.
In the 3-4 years before I moved to Milan, the giantess’s physical stature had diminished. Sadly, I was so absorbed in running on a hamster wheel that I never detected her decline. By the time I realized she was reduced to the core, I was in the midst of my own life change. According to the plant encyclopedia, her destiny had been fulfilled.
Then I remembered from my Jungian and Asian studies that dragons are important symbols of transformation, infinity and wisdom. Was I going to slay my dragon as I embarked on this new chapter of my life? No chance. I still can make up for lost time, I thought to myself.
Once settled in Milan, I repotted the plant. I found a surprise buried beneath the surface: the stiff, thin white roots were firmly clumped together like an empty bird’s nest, without a single speck of soil in the center from which to draw nourishment. No wonder my dragon had languished!
Gently, I finger-combed the roots, cut them back and stuck the plant in rich dark soil. Then I parked the plant under the 7 sloping Velux roof windows in my new home office so that only the sky became her limit.
Today, exceeding her expected life span and height, my female dragon is closing in on her third decade! At 7 feet (2.5 meters) tall, she even has flowered another rare phenomenon that attests to her transformative powers. It’s no coincidence, I believe, that my life and business have equally flourished thanks to the bountiful effects of renewal and change. The ginormous vibrant plant has become a visual cue that reminds me to be present, take charge and seek quality nourishment in all that I do.
How often do we find ourselves in the perfect environment to spur our growth When that happens we may fall into a routine of hanging out with the same friends and colleagues, clubs or associations on account of affinity, work, or hobby without paying close attention to whether our development needs are being met.
It is when our lives are on autopilot and/or we are running at a frenetic pace that a form of incestuousness may begin to creep into and dominate these domains. Everyone is so entangled with each other that the environment becomes stifling. Because we are not paying attention, we don’t realize that we are starving ourselves until our inspiration is rotting and/or close to death.
Part of our role as successful leaders or individuals involves detecting the early danger signals of decay and initiating corrective action immediately. Failure to promptly revive our starving dragon can lead to the loss of what we once had and valued whether it is a relationship, business, affiliation or organization.
Here are the top three visible signs to alert you that your dragon has begun to decline:
Like products and services, relationships and organizations can run their courses and end. Before throwing in the towel on them, remember that nature and this story demonstrate that awareness, followed by prompt, bold and radical action, can successfully arrest and even reverse their demise.
Follow this 3-step formula, in part or whole, to revitalize your dragon:
Improve the space. Do you need a bigger playing field, fewer boundaries or a different environment with greater energy and oxygen? To get different results, upgrade your setting.
Replenish the soil. Soil is the staff of life. Replacing the depleted soil with fresh, nutrient-rich earth enables living things to thrive. To fuel your life, business or growth, feed on food that literally and metaphysically is nutritious.
Stimulate the roots. Just as its roots determine the kind of fruit a tree will bear, so our beliefs form our behaviors and results. What limiting beliefs are stunting your growth? To galvanize action, get radical by changing them. The alternative is to rot and die.
What are you doing to ensure that your environment doesn’t become stale and stunt your growth? It is never too late to take charge, champion change and nourish your dragon so that you succeed beyond your dreams.