Winging It: Success Tip of the Day—When in Doubt Try Tulips

Sometimes you need to treat yourself to one of life's small treasures to keep your sanity in the workplace

Sometimes you have to stop and smell the... tulips (Image: ThinkStock)

There’s a beautiful orchid on the windowsill of my office. It arrived the other day—not from my husband, my children, or a fan of Black Enterprise Business Report (although that would be nice, hint-hint). I bought it for myself.

I do this. A lot. It’s one of my few regular indulgences. I never feel guilty about it, I never regret it, and it never fails to give me the satisfaction I seek. Those three components are key because doing something I’ll feel bad about later would defeat the purpose.

I’m not a girl who gets her nails done or splurges on handbags or shoes. For me, it’s flowers for my office. I bought myself parrot tulips on Valentine’s Day, peonies for my birthday, and orchids are liable to show up any time, because they make me happy.

This week I needed them badly. On every front, from the local story about a woman lying in a coma after a man punched her over a parking space (yes, you read it right, over a parking space), to the tsunami of devastating news from around the world, it’s a heavy time.

The constant onslaught of tragic images and disturbing facts make it hard to focus and to just take care of business as usual. Because, suddenly, nothing feels “usual.” But my orchid is a reminder that life renews itself with very little effort from any of us; that Spring really is coming (even if it’s still freezing in New York); and that the world is at least as full of beauty as it is pain.

Flowers comfort and inspire me—and they’re cheaper than Louboutins. True, they don’t last long, but that helps, too, because there comes a time when you have to move on from things, good and bad.

Caroline's personal pick-me-up (Image: Janel Martinez)

Every successful person has their mechanisms for getting through tough times. Amherst College dean Allyson Moore depends on the love and support of her girlfriends and says, “a massage now and then helps, too.” SeaWorld Orlando’s president, Terry Prather, prays and plays golf. Valerie Mosely, a managing director at Wellington Management in Boston, says that prioritizing time alone to journal and reflect helps her “lift the grayness and crystallize a vision.”

For you, it might be tennis or music, poetry or pancakes. It may be all or none of the above. What matters isn’t what it takes for you to stay centered when darkness and doubt creep in, it’s that you know what you need and that you don’t hesitate to use it. When in doubt, try tulips.

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