Success Is One Side of a Coin

Posted on Posted in Personal Growth and Self-Leadership

Originally titled:  Your Heart Is A Bud Vase

I am not what you would call an avid gardener. Nor am I the greatest fan of yard work.  But I do like pretty things, and I know that if you want them growing in your flower beds, you’ve got to put them there and then tend to them. Growing flowers is something I’ve done for only a few years, and frankly, I’ve still got a lot to learn. (Some people have a “green thumb,” I think mine is more of a brown or “crab-grass thumb.”)

I am a fan, though, of roses. I think they are beautiful to look at and there is very little else growing wild in this world that is as pleasant to smell. But they are the devil to grow. Once you mess with the dirt, pick the right variety you want to grow, and plant them, you find out that nature is set against your being successful. She (nature) sends out her minions in the form off lying monkeys; a.k.a. Japanese beetles, aphids, slugs, and a host of other slimy, slithering things I don’t even know the names of.

And when you think you’ve got those under control, there are diseases. Powdery this and black spot that. The list seems to go on forever. Then there’s the soil pH, moisture content, sun and shade—you get the drift. It’s almost enough to make you want to forget the whole thing and put your florist’s number on your speed dial instead.

This year, I decided to try growing roses. I spent weeks planning and getting the soil just right. I searched a radius of fifty miles for just the right plants and put them in. After six weeks of nursing these thorny little consumers of time, one sprouted the most beautiful, fragrant yellow and red-tipped rose you ever saw. The only bud on any of my plants had finally bloomed! And within hours, my daughter had snapped it off and given it to her boyfriend.

I was, to say the least, miffed. When I examined why I was so upset, I came to realize that the rose was only a symbol of my work, and that her breaking it off was a way of demeaning what I had done. It was like a painting that you’ve worked on for months being used as a coaster and then discarded. Or, like having a jigsaw puzzle of 2,000 pieces almost completed and then someone clearing off the table so they can play cards. It was my baby!

But then, like a butterfly, the full understanding of what growing flowers really is landed on my nose. Growing roses is the same as building a business, becoming an expert, earning a promotion, developing a client list. Growing roses was more than growing roses. It was hard work and delayed gratification. It was working today without reward so that a great reward might be realized at a future time…maybe. It was not a matter of spending the time of this day, but rather, investing in the future.

Like growing roses, your personal relationships and job life require investing today in the potential of a “maybe” tomorrow. And like growing your own flowers, developing your skills and relationships allows you to both gain the reward of the effort and the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with hard work and discipline. And all that with no guarantee that you’ll ever get what you’re working for.

A lesson we all pick up along the way is that no thing or skill of value is easy to acquire.  If it were easy, everyone would have it and it would no longer be valuable. A thing’s value is based on its rarity—how difficult it is to acquire and to maintain. This is also true when it comes to our own achievements. The harder it is, the more we value it. And the more we value it, the more we value ourselves! In other words, a life of leisure without struggle denies us our ability to be a success, because without the possibility of failure, there is no such thing as success.

Rather than looking for the easy way out, the line of least resistance, and the way to simply maintain the status quo, look for something you’re not sure you can do. Take on new challenges every day. It can be something as simple as making yourself be nice to that schmutz in the office you can’t stand. Why? Because each time you take on a challenge and meet it, even if the result isn’t what you wanted, you’ve been a success. And a life full of successes and achievements is a life with meaning and one that is therefore worth living.

So, the next time you find yourself facing a difficult day, think to yourself, “Here is another rosebud. I shall make it my personal goal to nurture it, and make it bloom.” And if you do, you will be a success and your heart will always be a bud vase.


Cogito! There is always a risk of failure when you decide to do anything. It may be uncomfortable to admit, but naked thinking tells us that without risk, there will never be anything of any value to achieve. Accept it, and then put your heart, mind, and soul into it. You may not always win, but then again, who does? Remember, without the risk of failure, there is no such thing as success.

~Excerpted from: Naked Thinking, Phil D’Agostino

3 thoughts on “Success Is One Side of a Coin

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Please do come back. I will be posting here regularly from now on. Also, please see these issues and many others addressed in greater detail in my book, Naked Thinking at NakedThinking.Com. Be well and have a truly positive day. ~pHil

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