09 Oct Zen and the Art of Blackberry Picking…
Business & Life Lessons from Blackberries!
I love the countryside and really enjoy long walks and runs through the fields, villages and commons where I live. I had been enjoying a few blackberries on my runs to wet my mouth when thirsty but never remembered to take a bag, so a few weeks ago I finally went for a walk with a big blue freezer bag and picked a generous amount of different sized blackberries, wild from the hedgerows – some big and plump, others small and sweet, all fresh and bursting with goodness!!
I ate quite a number raw for Vitamin C and put the rest in a lovely big apple & blackberry crumble – the topping of which I make with oats/ground almond/coconut fat and xylitol (Birch Sugar). Anyhow, along my walk and forage I occasionally got lost in thought and reflected upon the details of how I was gathering them up, and the parallels between blackberry picking, abundance and business strategy!
- Some blackberries were easy to reach – these are the ‘low-hanging fruit’ which means your existing customers or existing knowledge level. People are more likely to buy from you again if they have made a purchase and been satisfied. Similarly, your skill that you do ‘in your sleep’ that other’s don’t do, comes easily to you.
- Some blackberries needed a strategy to reach, such as being careful of my footing and approaching from a thorn free direction! This shows the importance of a certain amount of optimal planning to achieve your outcome and the ability to be aware of surroundings and other influencing factors.
- To reach some blackberries I needed to stretch – I needed to stand on tip toes and maintain a little concentration in order to reach the really juicy ones on the higher parts of the blackberry bush! This reflects the importance of balance and focus and determination to achieve your goal.
- Negative Feedback! Gathering some of the blackberries gave me a sting or a scratch! I was so concentrated on the goal, that I forgot about the stinging nettles and thorns nearby! This can happen if you take your mind off the ‘bigger picture’ and focus only on achieving an outcome. You can by total accident offend a client or upset someone in the pursuit of your goal, however well-intended.
- Preparation would have helped. I had thought when out running that when I get around to actually gathering some blackberries, it would be good to wear my knee-high Hunter boots and a pair of jeans to protect my legs, but I forgot and just went out in my usual lightweight running gear but for a walk – preparing more would have made me realise I wasn’t best dressed. Where do you draw line between preparedness and spontaneity?
- Life is Mindfulness
So many people think that success in life is simply a matter of setting intent and all else will follow… truth is there are many variables in life that are beyond our control, but with consciousness we can perform our best by being mindful of situations and environments whether physical, social or inner mindset.
- There is Plenty for All
Previously, I had been out on a walk with a dear friend and we had picked some blackberries to eat, commenting on the abundance of nature, and we noticed how I had felt guilty for taking more than a few all at the same time (I was hungry!), and had a fleeting thought that I was being greedy by taking more than I actually ‘needed’….but he reflected back to me in that moment the fact that we were the only ones in the field and that there were plenty left behind us, and plenty more in front of us. I didn’t really consciously realise I was running guilt patterns about receiving money or energy in life and this simple little practical metaphor really sunk in for me and I have been so much more present to true abundance and the true supportive nature of the world.
- There is Wastefulness and Repurposing
Many of us are born of the war generation and were brought up to be resourceful and know how to be thrifty. When we waste something unintentionally (food or money) or invest in something that didn’t work out well, it can be tempting to punish ourselves, but the fact is that there is ‘slippage’ – this is what businesses call waste and there is wastefulness everywhere in nature. Blackberries fallen onto the path that nobody would eat. Whole yards of blackberry bush ruined by some sort of withering and drying out. Eventually, those fruits on the floor will be scavenged by an insect or a mouse or it will be left to decay and rot and end up fertilising new growth. The waste can be re-used in nature. Similarly, instead of thinking that the food or money has gone to waste entirely, think of who benefited – the producer of the food received money from your purchase, so it paid its staff and growers. The money you spent but didn’t get a return on is an expensive lesson that will (hopefully) make you more effective in the future. Now, I am not saying be indiscriminately wasteful as I don’t believe in that at all, but just try to relax a bit more around the expenditure of time, money and energy and weirdly enough, you will end up having more, as you let go of anxiety.
- Don’t take obstacles personally
I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my life when I have definitely become far too stressed about my failures and disappointments. The truth is that stuff happens, and it is more effective to face the obstacle head on and concentrate on overcoming it rather than whine about it being there in the first place, as if it is some trick of the cosmos or some persecution that no-one else endures and all the other fallacies that can throw us of our stride! Obstacles can help us adjust our strategy and be even more productive. They can actually save us from going off too fast down the wrong route and course correct us. If everything in life was too easy (low-hanging blackberries!) then we would never grow or mine our potential. I am not suggesting that life be a constant obstacle course, as that is unbalanced as well.
How does any of this apply to Feng Shui and Chinese Horoscopes?!
Well, you see Feng Shui isn’t at all airy fairy, feel good stuff… it can sometimes be challenging for people to have a consultation. They discover aspects about their home or horoscope that are difficult to deal with and need a strategy to bring an improvement to their life. They also see where their home has been ‘stinging’ them by draining their energy, finances, health or causing arguments and even divorce. Sometimes there are some easy fixes to be made – the low-hanging fruit. And sometimes people need a bit of guidance to stretch themselves to the next level of awareness.
The same applies to horoscope reports, which can tell people their strengths but also reveal their weaknesses and the need to formulate a strategy to deal with the stingers and the thorns of life!
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Master Sarah McAllister is owner and founder of Feng Shui Agency Ltd, a UK based Feng Shui consultancy and training company with an international client portfolio and associate Feng Shui architects, Feng Shui Urban Planners and Interior Designers. She is widely regarded as an industry expert and is a sought after lecturer and consultant. She publishes a free monthly newsletter “CHI-mail!” with industry news, practical Feng Shui insight and advice for subscribers.