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5 Career Reinvention Lessons I Learned From a Pumpkin

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I’ve often said that there is much to be learned about the career reinvention process from nature. I was reminded of this phenomena yet again this summer, courtesy of a rogue pumpkin plant growing in our backyard.

As you can see in the photo below, the plant is a force of nature. From the time it first sprouted in July, this vine has grown like a wildfire: anchoring its roots into the ground, climbing up the deck and winding its tendrils around anything in its path. 

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Somewhat comically, it has yielded only one pumpkin thus far. Several others attempted to bud, and looked like real possibilities for a while, but like so many “great ideas of the day” they ultimately withered on the vine. Fortunately, the one that is growing, appears to be a keeper.

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I’d love to claim that this plant is so impressive because we are amazing gardeners. But in truth, we’ve really had nothing to do with it. We didn’t plant it – it appeared out of nowhere.

Well, okay, that’s not entirely true. You see, the plant started in our compost pile after we discarded our Halloween pumpkin there last fall. So I guess we sorta did plant it in a way, even though that was never our intention. Funny, how the little seeds we scatter throughout our lives, often without even noticing, can manifest in interesting ways and surprising second acts, no?

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Notably, this is not the first year we’ve grown things without meaning to do so. In fact, every summer something surprising grows out of our compost pile. Gourds, tomatoes, herbs and flowers have all magically appeared out of the discarded “waste” that was left to rot in the compost.

It’s fun, because we never quite know what will take when. But nature teaches us that when the right seeds – hit just the right growing environment – new growth flourishes. Of course, it helps to nurture the process along a bit. A little water, sunshine and fertilizer, and a sprinkling of luck, can work wonders.

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As the summer draws to a close, we will continue to delight in watching as our pumpkin grows, ripens, and eventually falls off the vine. Then, we will proudly display it on our front stoop until the frost hits – and the cycle begins anew.

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And so, as we head into September, a time when many of you will reignite your career plans in earnest, I hope you’ll remember the profound lessons offered by nature. Here’s to a year filled with prolific seeds, fertile growing conditions – and an abundant, awe-inspiring and enriching harvest. Happy September everyone!

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25 Questions To Help YOU Identify Your Ideal Second Act. You'll also receive my free newsletter filled with second-act ideas, tools and inspiration.

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