What would happen if you stopped trying so hard?

I am a really terrible gardener. Rather than a green thumb, I have a black thumb. Any plant that comes near me can be guaranteed to wither and die within weeks. I killed a cactus this year…that takes some skill

Take the morning glory cutting that my daughter brought home from school. It’s a rite of passage for all Japanese first graders to grow an あさがお, a morning glory, as part of their 生活、life skills class. My daughter did an amazing job and her flower was growing so well that she brought home a cutting. We put it on the balcony and somehow I became the person responsible for it.

The inevitable happened…and the morning glory looked less than glorious and soon faded away. I’m a busy gal and I lazily left the plant pot on the balcony after removing the sad remains and went about my business.

Last week, as I was opening the curtains, I was stunned. What is that? A flower in the morning glory pot? It’s not even a morning glory. (If you know what it is, please write in the comments)



With no plan, no attention, nature had found a way. I’m leaving well enough alone and just looking at this dear hardy little flower every morning in wonder.

And it got me to thinking…sometimes we plan and prepare, pay so much attention to driving action and it actually damages us.

In some cases, perhaps we just have to let things happen and allow nature to deliver something wonderful.

And if it does, we can grab the opportunity and be grateful.

I’m such a huge believer in the power of human agency to shape our future and to create and communicate change that this revelation still has me reeling.

What will happen if I just let go a little?

Allow things to present themselves to me instead of forcing them?

What unexpected opportunities may show up for me?

Coaching questions

What would happen if you stopped trying so hard?

What would it be like to just “wait and see”?

Fingers crossed for my wonder of nature as I just knocked over the plant pot as I decided to work on the balcony on this perfect autumn day


Jennifer Shinkai is a coach and facilitator based in Tokyo, Japan. She helps people create and communicate change. With a focus on developing women leaders in Japan, she is passionate about diversity and inclusion and runs a Lean In Chapter as a volunteer.

Find out more about her or contact her to set up a free Skype discovery session today.

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