Since the Age of Reason, we've looked at nature through the eyes of science, defining success in Darwinian terms. As a scientist myself, at the dawn of the Age of Transcendence, I'd like to suggest that this viewpoint is exceedingly myopic. The result is tens of millions of us living, at any given moment, in fight-or-flight mode in a survival-of-the-richest world. No wonder the cost of stress according to the World Health Organization is $300 billion annually.
When I look to align myself with the concept of success I see revealed in nature, a much different analogy comes to mind. It is that of the life of a rose. It seems to me that the rose has won its place in the Winner's Circle because it has so much to teach us.
When we plant and grow a rosebush, it requires fertile soil, the right amount of sunlight and regular watering. It must be protected from harsh weather conditions like heat, rain, cold, insects, animals and other destructive elements that could hinder its growth. Because nothing in nature can be fully protected, the rosebush has to work very hard and overcome tremendous hardships to grow into a full-size bush and eventually to bud and then finally bloom into dozens of incredibly beautiful and fragrant flowers.
By creating these flowers, the rosebush succeeds. Its flowers not only offer the rosebush a way to reproduce, they offer the rosebush a way to enhance the world. Interestingly, the rosebush never claims this success as its own, selfishly possessing it. Instead, it gives its flowers for the world to enjoy. The rosebush never engages in a preemptive strike. Those who don't directly threaten the roses' survival are not threatened by its thorns, though a seasoned gardener will pluck the occasional rose to facilitate its growth.
When that happens, the flower is replaced with a new bud so now, not only will there be two roses, but the beauty of the first rose can be shared with others who are far away from the original plant. The gardener and others are so enriched by the beauty of the rosebush, they are highly motivated to foster its growth.
Moreover, the rosebush does not discriminate in who may enjoy its beauty. Every living creature from the criminal to the king smells the same beautiful fragrance and sees the same radiance. Day in and day out, the rosebush simply and unconditionally remains focused on producing its success for all the universe, without any pre-conditions or expectations. It is, in itself, a practical yet unselfish mission.
I think that when we truly understand that our survival is dependent more upon our flowers than our thorns, we will have truly re-defined success. How have you transitioned from depending on your thorns to your roses?
Ratanjit S. Sondhe is the founder and CEO of Discoverhelp, Inc., a public speaker and the author of the new book, "How Oneness Changes Everything: Empowering Business Through 9 Universal Laws."