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Published:March 8th, 2009 17:33 EST
Have You Hugged a Tree Today?

Have You Hugged a Tree Today?

By Simon Bailey (Mentor/Columnist)

Good people are being laid off in several industries, and many people who are lucky enough to still be working are being asked to take pay cuts. On the other hand, there are some businesses that are thriving in the midst of this economic tsunami.

A dear friend of mine told me recently that her job was being eliminated; however, she was applying for another position within the same corporation. My friend mentally and emotionally prepared for the interview. She put on her best suit, prepared a portfolio, which included her contributions and core skills, and rehearsed her little heart out, but she still didn`t get the position. Now she finds herself in the job market at one of the most challenging times in the history of world.

As an individual who aspires to inspire before I expire, I felt helpless because I couldn`t fix her situation or change it. The only thing I could do was to offer a small insight, a brilliant metaphor I heard when I was talking to Robin Rampersad after a group life coaching session with our mentor.  What he said totally rocked my world, and I`m happy to share it with you.

His eyes on fire, Robin explained that when a tree is going through its winter season, it is denied the ability to produce food through the process of photosynthesis. Everything changes for this tree because it is accustomed to trapping sunlight in its leaves via chlorophyll, which gives the leaves their green pigment, and transforming that chlorophyll along with other viable ingredients into food. This is normal for the tree, and it doesn`t have to think about it.  It`s second nature. Yes, this is third grade science but it is so cool.

In the winter, though, these normal functions are no longer an option because there isn`t enough sunlight to produce food, nor are there any leaves on the tree to trap the light. The tree, at this time, becomes almost dead on the outside, but internally, it begins to search for answers. As a result, it is forced to find food another way. And here`s the brilliance of God " the tree must push its roots deep into the soil to find enough minerals, salts, and water to sustain itself.

Because the tree has spent the winter anchoring itself deeper and deeper into the soil and finding sustenance in a time of scarcity, it will be able to grow and thrive in the spring and summer months. Its fruit will be of a wonderful quality because the nutrients that helped produce it have come from deep within the recesses of the earth.

OK, I admit, I have goose bumps on my arms after sharing what Robin told me. It was exactly what I needed to hear as a business owner.  Like the tree, I have been forced out of my normal routine. 

If you, too, have been forced out of what you`ve known into unfamiliar territory, then just realize that you are in the winter season of your journey. Many of you are wondering why they let you go. Why did they put you on the street along with millions of other jobless individuals? But, that is not the question you should be asking. The real question is: What took them so long? Some of you outgrew your companies a long time ago. You chose, however, to stay planted in soil that could no longer sustain the particular brilliance of your fruit.  The reality is that you grew too big for your place, but you were comfortable, so you chose not to make a change, not to make waves. Now the waves and the change have come to you.

At certain times in our lives, we have to be replanted into a new garden of thinking in order for our leaves to bloom.  At certain times in our lives, we have to be uprooted from an existing system that can only take us so far. What we need is a new sprinkler system of thinking. On my property, every sprinkler head is supposed to water a particular zone for a certain amount of time. I have noticed that during this winter season, there are some zones that have not been watered properly and some of the grass has died. Then, on the flip side, I noticed one cold winter night that my well-watered plants had frozen to death because I didn`t cover them up. Now, I have to dig them up and plant some new ones that are sturdier and can withstand the cold nights in Florida.

Well, I digress. Here are seven tips for you to share with your friends who may have experienced a layoff or business setback:
Detox! When you leave a previous place of business, you have to let all of the emotions and thoughts work themselves out of your system. You may have become your job and lost a sense of yourself. You may have become your title and forgot that you are a human being instead of a human doing. Take a deep breath and let go.

Quiet the Internal Chatter! Your mind has the ability to reach back into the archives and flash onto the movie screen of your mind a picture from your previous place of business. The moment you see the picture words begin to emerge. The more you relive your past, the more you choke your present momentum. Stop it. Move on. Write a letter to yourself about everything you learned and appreciated in your previous position, then get a match and burn it up.

Write down your preferred or ideal work environment. Most experts say to write down the type of work you do, then go and find the environment that best suits you. However, that could take a ton of time. I suggest you write down the ideal environment that you would like to work in and then determine which one of your brilliant skills will best suit the opportunity.

See yourself as a corporation. You are a brand. Your tree of brilliance doesn`t belong in every open lot. Where can you bloom?
These next three ideas are from my friend Haydee founder of Professional Impressions in South Africa. Check her out at this address:
Don`t be intimidated. If you are meeting someone who intimidates you, be the first person to say something so that the conversation is in your control. Don`t say anything competitive or defensive; instead, ask something personal like, How is your family?  or How was your weekend?  Be sincere and it will probably throw off the other person`s power-tripping ways.

Confident people love life so much that they don`t want to waste a minute of it. Start your day on the front foot, " that is, ready and prepared, and you won`t waste the rest of the day trying to catch up with yourself.

Overcome mingle-phobia. Psych yourself up to enter a room. If you don`t know anyone, walk up to a group, smile wildly, introduce yourself and say: I don`t know a soul at this party. May I join you guys? " this usually gets a warm, sympathetic reception, and people start chatting with you immediately. "Jeanne Martinet, author of The Art of Mingling
Sign up for The Re-Emergence Workshop " Friday, March 27, 2009 at the W Hotel, Downtown Atlanta.  For more information visit
 This is your season to bounce back, Oh Brilliant One. I believe in you. Everything you need to succeed is inside of you. Be a tree and stand when you don`t know what else to do. There is a deeper anchoring taking place that never would`ve happened unless you had gone through the winter season.
Simon wants to know
What are you doing to thrive and get back up on your feet if you have experienced a setback?

Simon`s Side Bar

My friend Svetlana Kim was just 23 years old when she left Leningrad, Russia, for New York City. During a chance encounter in a bread line, a former schoolmate offered her a plane ticket from the black market to America. With only a dollar in her pocket and no knowledge of the English language, Kim left her family and friends for a new life, just as her great-grandparents had left Korea for Russia nearly a century before.

Faced with seemingly insurmountable odds after her arrival in the United States, the intrepid young woman clung tightly to her memories of her Soviet-Korean grandmother Bya-ok (Korean for "White Pearl"). Inspired by White Pearl`s indomitable spirit in the face of tremendous adversity, Kim tirelessly pursued the American dream. Seventeen years after her arrival in America, she has built a successful career, rubbing elbows with some of the country`s most respected politicians and businesswomen. White Pearl and I is an inspiring account of one woman`s courage and conviction.
 You can purchase online at and visit