Protect Your Idea


Hands holding sapling in soil

Imagine what it would be

like to build your life

around your goals and see

them through.

After much thought and deep soul searching, one of my clients decided to quit her job.  She realized it was sucking the life out of her, she didn’t enjoy her colleagues, and it wasn’t the profession she meant to be doing.  It was in a corporate environment where her tasks were dictated by “systems” and she desired to be in a more creative, independent profession.  She worked up the nerve, left her job, and we spent our time discussing and strategizing the many opportunities she had in front of her.  She was excited to take time off and really think about her next move.  I was so excited for her!  One of the weeks after she made this decision, she arrived to our session depleted, lacking energy, and full of fear.  She was actually physically ill as well.  After spending a week sharing with others her new venture (taking time off), she was exhausted.  It turns out, she spent most of the week defending her decision.  People were uncomfortable with her choice and said things like “what will you do on your time off” and “how will you support yourself?” While she was an extremely responsible young woman (had a savings, was in a good financial position to do what she was doing, had many job options), these questions evoked fear in her, causing her to feel less excited about her new choice and much more anxious.  So what to do?

I use a metaphor with my clients who are making bold moves in their lives.  I ask them to think of their new decision (leaving a job, starting or ending a relationship, buying or selling a home, relocating, ect…) as a small sapling.  When you look at a small sapling, say on the side of the road or planted neatly in a suburban garden, you see that it is supported by string, holding it up on all sides.  This sapling represents your new idea that has not yet taken root.  It is beautiful and full of life, but it cannot yet stand alone.  So whom will you share your sapling with?  Only with those who will be very careful with it.  Share it only with those who will admire it, but not mess with it.  You are there to protect it, and only allow those with the gentlest of intentions to know about it.  Sometimes we feel that we must “be honest” with everyone in our lives the second we decide something. “I’m moving to Australia!” you tell your father, who immediately responds with, “but you’ll never find a job!” and bam!  Instead of being so excited about this awesome, bold decision you spent months thinking through, you are now filled with fear and picture yourself homeless on the streets of Sydney.  Even though you know how you will support yourself (you have a savings, you can get a part time job when you arrive, you can live with a friend while you are there…) you only focus on what could go wrong.  But remember, you have a choice of whom you share you ideas with.

So how do you know who to share your ideas with?
Take some time and think about how you feel when you talk to certain people.  Do you feel calm or anxious?  Who in your life will sit back and admire your sapling for what it is, a new idea, new growth, and possibility.  During this phase, you want to surround yourself with people who will help you water your new idea, help you protect it, help hold it up until it can stand alone.  Until then, you don’t have to show it to everyone.  Some people will be too excited, too rough, and careless with your new decision.

It is so important to keep in mind that everyone who you like and love, will not necessarily be a person whose opinion matters to you.  You do not need to show everyone your sapling; some people will just see your sturdy tree someday.