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The Daffodil Principle - A Story About Investing in the Future
There’s a story about a daughter who told her mother that the next time she visits, she must take her to see a local daffodil garden.
Not really knowing what the fuss was about, the mother reluctantly agreed and they set off together to see them.
The day was overcast and foggy, so the mother was impatient and tempted to turn the car around, but her daughter seemed so excited that she couldn’t bring herself to do it.
“It’s alright mother. You’ll never forgive yourself if you miss this experience,” her daughter assured her.
After about 20 minutes, they turned down a gravel road and they saw a small church. On the far side of the church, there was a hand written sign that simply said, “Daffodil Garden.”
They walked down the path and turned a corner to be confronted by the most breath-taking sight imaginable.
It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns – great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers.
“But who has done this?” The mother asked.
“It’s just one woman,” responded her daughter. “She lives on the property. That’s her home.”
She pointed to a well-kept A-frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house.
On the patio, they saw a poster. “Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking” was the headline.
The first answer was a simple one. “50,000 bulbs,” it read.
The second answer was, “One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and very little brain.”
The third answer was, “Began in 1958.”
Immediately they understood the daffodil principle.
They thought of this woman whom they had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun – one bulb at a time – to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, she had changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of indescribable magnificence, beauty and inspiration.
The principle her daffodil garden taught is learning to move toward our goals and desires, one step at a time – often just one baby-step at a time – and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.
“It makes me sad in a way,” the mother admitted. “What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it ‘one bulb at a time’ through all those years. Just think what I might have been able to achieve!”
Her daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. “Start tomorrow,” she said.
In the context of this daffodil principle, I have two questions for you today.
What’s your garden?
What are you doing today to create it?