Last night I was cutting up the last of our pepper harvest in preparation for freezing. As I was cutting them, I marveled at the number of seeds that are in each pepper. Each of these seeds represents a potential pepper plant, which could then produce multiple peppers, each containing a large seed pod. If even only a portion of those seeds were to germinate and bear fruit, the increase in peppers would be enormous. Perhaps it was the capsaicin fumes coming off of the peppers, but I turned my thoughts to the figurative seeds that we plant and nourish when we help and teach and encourage others.
I have written about this in previous blog posts in terms of leaving a legacy, but I want to focus specifically on the act of planting seeds. I want to share a story of people who planted seeds that allowed me to grow and give an example of how I try to plant seeds for others. I hope you will in turn share with me your stories of those who helped you and how you help others.
An Act of Kindness
My first paying job was delivering newspapers when I was eleven. It was my job to deliver the daily newspaper and to collect subscription money at the end of the month. There were some customers who did their best to dodge my collection attempts and others who were very gracious. One older couple went out of their way to invite me into their home and always fed me toast and jam on cold Saturday mornings. As I reflect on their kindness, I realize they were planting seeds that would help me in my life. I learned the value of doing a good job to earn that kindness, and I have also come to realize that I can extend that same kindness to others. Their seeds continue to flourish in me and are extended to those I interact with.
Planting Seeds for Others
I do a lot of volunteer work with a youth group and a few years ago I volunteered to run a leadership course for young men and women. The instructors were primarily older youth so although my main task was organizing the course, I also taught the instructors how to teach and to connect with others. In other words, I was planting the seeds of teaching skills with the instructors who, in turn, were planting the seeds of leadership with the participants. I got to see immediate benefits with my staff, and hopefully we planted the seeds of leadership skills with the participants. I have worked with some of those youth since that time and, whether they realize it or not, they are using the skills they learned.
I planted seeds, and then my staff planted seeds, and now it is time for the students to plant seeds. I have no idea how far our influence will spread, but healthy seeds can be carried and take root, sometimes in unlikely places.
At times it feels like everyone these days is isolated in their own world, but I see examples of people reaching out to others and planting seeds that will be harvested, probably for generations to come. Some seeds don’t thrive and bear fruit right away, maybe not even in our lifetime, but be assured that our deeds will bear fruit, for better or for worse. I hope you will choose today to plant seeds that will carry benefits for a long time to come. Let me know about the seeds that you plant.
Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.