I have three sets of flowers on my dining room table collected over the past week. The third set came yesterday when the church I visited distributed bouquets of tulip buds after service. The arrangement included instructions for nurturing the buds to full bloom. Having acquired an array of flowers this week, I see them as a metaphor for the love pouring into my life, and the instructions are a reminder that cultivating a relationship requires intention.
Flowers, like relationships, always look beautiful on the outside. From inception, however, there is constant work and intention that foster the outcome others can admire. I haven’t always understood the work it takes to properly start, develop, or maintain a relationship. Coming from a household where my parents never argued, I unconsciously expected perfection without effort. I’ve since learned that flourishing- whether in love, business, or life- requires us to take action. Here are the instructions for blossoming the buds in your life.
Step One: Plant and Feed
When we get flowers, we’re often directed to fill a clean vase with water and add food. Any budding relationship requires the same things: nutrients and a place to develop. Traditionally, I struggled with clearing space before planting something new. It was more comfortable to let relationships linger and wither over time than to be intentional about cleaning up what wasn’t working. This is unhealthy, and when we don’t make room for something new, we allow what isn’t working to infect the space.
Relationships thrive in safe spaces, free of pre-existing dirt and outside influences. Besides the nutrients (time, wisdom and effort) needed to grow something new, it’s important to be mindful of who and what you invite in. Similar to protecting your vision in business, budding relationships can benefit from not being subject to too many outside opinions. When you want to feed the relationship, seek advice from those with experience you admire.
Step Two: Trim and Remove
Before putting the flowers in water, we cut the stems, and once they’ve been there for a while, we remove fallen leaves to prevent bacterial growth. In relationships, there may be habits or baggage unconducive to the relationship that need to be trimmed. I haven't always paid attention to this. I'm definitely guilty of coasting and complaining in past relationships.
As partners change over time, individually and collectively, there may be practices that no longer serve the relationship. It’s okay to remove them. (The same rules apply for business.)
Step Three: Repeat
In the past, I’ve gotten comfortable when times were good. In order to maintain those times, I should have kept doing what I did to get to a content place. Trimming and removing are ongoing steps that come from reflecting and communicating. I didn’t always evaluate my actions or communicate my needs, but having a business has grown me in many areas, and the lessons are useful across the board.
I’m not sure how long the flowers on my dining room table will live, but if I treat them like a budding relationship, I foresee them lasting longer than usual. It’s also my hope that by following these steps, you too will see greater outcomes with what you're budding. Happy blooming!