Lessons We Can Learn from the Lone Cypress

Jim Donovan

One of my favorite places in the United States and somewhere my wife Georgia and I have spent a lot of time is the Monterey Peninsula in California. I love the ocean views, mild climate, and the overall natural beauty of that part of the California coast. Along the coastline, on the scenic "17 Mile Drive," one of the special sites on the tour is the Lone Cypress tree.

This amazing tree sits all by itself out on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The little tree has anything but a peaceful existence, weathering the high winds and storms, but it survives nonetheless.

The way it not only survive, but thrives, and the point of this story is that the Cypress tree has learned to adapt to its environment and remain flexible, learning to accomodate the high winds rather than try to fight the elements. In the case of the Cypress, as with people, flexibility is key. Conditions change and people, or trees, who attempt to resist the change will be broken.

This idea is especially important to grasp with everything that is going on in the world's economy. People who continue to cling to old ideas, or outdated jobs, will experience difficulty, while those who can learn to "go with the flow" will thrive.

If you ahve been working in a job or industry that is experiencing a down turn, why cling to it? Just because "I have always been a (fill in your job) does not mean I have to continue doing so."

Instead, why not look into one of the emerging industries that will create huge demands for skilled workers in the future? Solar energy and fiber optic technology are just two that come to mind. The "green movement," an essential shift in the way we do things, is here to stay. We have been trashing Mother Earth for far too long and fortunately, we're finally realizing it. This effort to reverse the ecological destruction is creating a swarm of green businesses and ecological products with an accompanying opportunity.

Maybe you are in your own business and are being affected by the current conditions, most are. Don't be afraid to make some changes even if it means going in an entirely new direction. If you are in a service business and things are a little slow, ask yourself, what new or additional services could I offer that there is a demand for?

The key is flexibility; learn to go with the forces rather than stand ridged opposing them. Pay attention to what you are noticing. Remembering that we attract what we focus on, it's important to keep our point of attraction on what is working. As I wrote in an earlier article, whenever there is this much chaos and churn, there is huge opportunity. WIth a new President who is committed to job creation, there is even more opportunity.

For example, a decade ago I was working as a freelance instructor at a computer school in Philadelphia. I taugh Desktop Publishing, Office Systems, and the Internet.

One day as I arrived early with my coffee and bagel, I went into the conference room that I was using to have my breakfast and work on my book. On that particular day, when I arrived, the conference room had been turned into a classroom.

Later I learned that in response to a growing need to re-train displaced city workers, the company was building classrooms as fast as they could. I was to spend thenext several months teaching classes to former city workers who were learning new job skills. I predict that we will see a lot more of this in different industries in the days ahead.

With so many people being laid off, there is an opoprtunity for coaches who can specialize in transition and careering coaching. For that matter, coaching schools will see an increase in students as many of these downsized corporate employees decide to move to the coaching profession.

Builders and contractors who are astute enough to become knowledgeable about energy incentives can create new business by educating homeowners about what's available to them.

For the individual, or business, who chooses to stay flexible and look  where the economy is going rather than lament about where it has been, there is always an opportunity. Remember the champion hockey player, Wayne Gretzky, who said, "Most people skate to where the puck is. I skate to where it's going."

The tides rise and fall, the winds blow and subside, the storms both natural and economic come and go, but the flexible among us always thrive. When you are feeling uncertain or worried, remember the little Cypress tree flourishing amongst the elements.

Jim Donovan is author of This Is Your Life, Not a Dress Rehearsal  www.jimdonovan.com   Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.


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