What does it take to grow a seed of an idea into form?
We can look to principles of agriculture.
Start With a Good Seed
First, and most obviously, it helps to start with a good seed. According to the Penn State Extension website,
Few decisions are more important to successful vegetable production than choosing the right seed.
More Important Than the Seed
That said, a good seed doesn’t grow on its own. What’s the most crucial factor in whether you can nurture this seed into a full-fledged plant, or even, perhaps someday, a fruit-bearing tree?
You might think that it’s having a fail-proof plan, or promoting your seed, or perhaps praying over it and sending it good intentions.
Nor will your determination, discipline, and devotion to cultivating the seed be sufficient.
These can all help, but there’s something even more important.
The make-or-break for a seed is the soil.
Seeds need the proper temperature, moisture, air, and light conditions to germinate.
Without the right environment, even the best seeds will not flourish. No amount of willpower or determination or hard work on the part of the cultivator can force a seed to germinate if the environment isn’t conducive for the seed to sprout.
Even the best seeds are impotent in poor soil. One of my favorite sayings is this wisdom:
Environment is more potent than willpower.
It’s obvious, and yet when it comes to our own “seeds” we often overlook this crucial law of nature.
We can get so focused on the seed — choosing the right one, devising the best plan, mapping out the big picture of our garden — that we forget to check the soil.
If the seed isn’t sprouting, we might believe we are lacking in something: we need more discipline, stronger accountability, a better plan, different tools.
The Inner Environment
A seed cannot sprout in a soil of blame and shame. Fear-based approaches smother a seed, depriving it of the oxygen it needs for generating life force.
The inner environment of our mind and the condition of our physical bodies are crucial to germinating our dream seeds and ideas.
A seed that can’t breathe can’t sprout.
Yet we often don’t even realize that we’re in a contracted state.
The Outer Environment
But this isn’t just about mindset. We often fail to examine our literal environment: the sounds, sights, and smells we take in throughout the day, the information we absorb, the subtle and not-so-subtle messages we encounter in every waking moment and even in our sleep.
A neighbor’s argument that reverberates through the walls. The information in our social media feeds, the shows we watch on TV — even if it’s just on in the “background.” In fact, the background noises of daily life — both auditory and visual — are some of the worst toxins in our environment.
They are so ubiquitous that we hardly notice them until we consciously step away from them.
It’s Not All About the Light
Lest you think we need to bring lots of “love and light” to our seeds, it’s not all about that. In fact,
Most seeds germinate best under dark conditions and might even be inhibited by light.
In the beginning, the seed needs stillness and darkness to germinate. Only after it has sprouted above the ground does it require light.
A seed needs the safety of nourishing soil to get started.
When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower. — Alexander Den Heije
If your seed isn’t sprouting, fix your soil.