I love trees; it’s why, when I was only 13, I decided the career for me was to become a forester. And indeed for 18 years after graduating with a degree in Forestry I had a very rich and interesting career with the Forestry Commission, but by that time I had burned myself out trying to prove, both to myself and others, that I was something other than who I really am.
And I realised I’m probably much better at growing people than I was at growing trees!
However, I do still love trees and can find them inspirational, awe-inspiring and beautiful. They are also rich in symbolism and as a metaphor for many aspects of our own personal growth. There’s a certain irony that now I’m no longer a forester, trees figure far larger in my day to day work and I feel more connected to them than ever!
I particularly love that the Scottish Clan Anderson motto is “Stand Sure” with an Oak tree for a crest. I think I love and identify with Oaks the most – not always the most beautiful, elegant or graceful of trees, but strong and practical with huge presence and character, capable of supporting a multitude of life; characteristics I probably admire and aspire to myself.
I use OAK as an acronym for the 3 fundamental principles that support my personal growth, and that I’m finding withstand the test of time and trauma:
Ownership – I, and I alone am responsible for how I behave, feel and choose to be;
Acceptance – in this moment, I accept who I am as reality. I also accept the behaviour of others, and events or circumstances as being current reality – I let go of the fantasy of how I, you or it should be (I’m even working to accept that I often still find this principle really really hard!)
Kindness – in my place of acceptance I imbue it with compassion and kindness, for myself and others. Such compassion and kindness is nourishment for growth, learning and insight.
Increasingly I notice in my coaching client work that the unhappiest, the most stuck, the most stressed are full of blame, shame, exhausted by their frustrations, burdened by their impossible expectations; the ‘musts’, the ‘shoulds’, the ‘have-to’s and the ‘oughts’.
Yet when we create a space and ‘permission’ for this OAK to grow (the ownership, acceptance and kindness) something deeply healing and releasing occurs, like a sigh of relief.
As their OAK grows, so does their resilience, their openness, their capacity to give to others – and their happiness.
So what of your own OAK – is it still an acorn, or perhaps a young sapling?
Or maybe you’ve nourished and practiced ownership, acceptance and kindness for years and now stand sure as a mighty sentinel of the woods, strong in all seasons and weathers?
I’d love to know if this resonates, please let me know.