WHAT DUTCH TULIP FARMERS CAN TEACH US ABOUT SAYING NO

The main thing is to keep the main thing a main thing.

Stephen R.Covey

 I’ve been to Holland a couple of times, and once I got to meet some tulip farmers in the North of the country. They rented huge plots of land, where they grew the most beautiful tulips ever, and they also had a giant greenhouse where they kept the flowers during the winter months.

At the end of May, when the tulips were blooming in the most amazing colours, they invited me to go out with them to the farm. And they promised I could drive a tractor too 🙂

And so, I did, and went to see the most amazing tulip fields I could ever imagine

And then I almost had a heart attack from what I saw at the farm.

There were all kinds of tulips in 200-meter-long rows, for as far as the eye could see, huge parcels of same colour and type. The scent and the sight were unbelievable. It was truly amazing.

I noticed that a tractor was working between the rows, and when I saw what it was actually doing, I got a shock.

The tractor was cutting off the head of each tulip!

All of them. Wherever it passed, tulips heads were scattered everywhere. Red, yellow, striped, pink, black, white.  Flowers in full bloom, exposed to mass destruction. I almost started to cry.

I asked in total disbelief, what they were doing??? And why???

The answer I got was actually really logical. The farmers told me, that when the tulips start to bloom, but are not yet completely opened, so when they’re at their most beautiful, they cut the heads off, and leave the stems in the field, until they rot. This way, the leaves and the stems are able to absorb the maximum energy from the sun, which can thus find its way to the bulb, instead of it being wasted on developing the flower head instead.

I didn’t know earlier, although it may be obvious to some, that tulip farmers compete among themselves not with the tulips, but with the bulbs. The bigger and healthier bulbs they can produce year after year, the more famous they become on the international market. This is what secures their clientele, not the tulips. The buying price for fresh cut flowers is very low, so it’s actually the bulbs that generate the larger part of their revenue.

So, the reason they plant and grow tulips on huge plots of land, is to produce first class tulip bulbs for sale.

Do you understand what this means?

They sacrifice something in order to achieve something much bigger.

What they get in return is that the healthier, better developed bulbs will eventually produce quality flowers, which then make everyone happy. The person who gets a tulip like that, will be happy, and satisfied, so the shop keeper will be happy too, and if the farmer continues to produce top quality bulbs, and so becomes a market leader, he will be happy too. He will be able to create a great reputation for himself and also more income.

When you decide to go for something that’s important to you, it’s essential to have a vision, and for you to see the bigger picture.

You need to know why it’s important to you, and you will also need to create a strategy that can help you get there.

You will also need to know, what you have to give up, so that you can achieve something much bigger.

  • Let’s say you want to work location independent. This means, you might not have a posh office anymore, if you quit from a job you hate, but instead you might meet new people at a coworking office, whose core values are closer to yours.
  • You might be offered a less senior role, if you decide to do work that means something to you, but it also means your responsibility will be smaller, and you will be home just in time to be able to read the bedtime story for your little boy.
  • If you start your own business, you might not have regular income at first, but you will be able to make your own decisions about who you work with, how many months you work in a year and what your workdays will look like.
  • If you change careers, and decide to try a new one, you might be the newbie somewhere, even though you have 20 years of experience from elsewhere, but you could learn something new there, that will add to your market value in the long term.
  • And it might be scary or uncomfortable to say no to certain projects, but if they take your focus away from what you really want to achieve in your long-term work, you might just want to think again.

What is it that’s really important to you? What can you sacrifice in order to get to where you want to be, and what do you feel, you must keep?

It’s possible that you just need to put some things aside temporarily, in order to achieve your goals.

Just don’t be afraid to say no to certain things, so that you have time and space left to say yes to what you really want.

 

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