Many people plant seeds in the spring to grow vegetables or flowers in their gardens. They cover the seeds with soil and water. And then they wait for Nature to do its work,  walking the gardens day by day to see the first green shoots come up out of the soil.

What we often don’t realize is not only is this a natural process, this spring ritual is also an act of faith. We have faith that even though we can’t see the seeds germinating under the soil, we know something is happening. We know that plants develop their roots systems first before they break the surface. We know that germination takes time. We also trust that after the phase is complete, we will begin to see the plants shoot above the soil and continue to flourish.

Why is it so easy to have faith in Nature’s unseen germination process – yet so difficult to have faith in other situations?

Having faith in ourselves and others

There is much talk today about how divided and polarized we are as a society. This “climate” makes it especially challenging to have faith in the process of human development. But as human beings, we are designed to learn. Babies are wonderful to watch because they are learning all the time – how to move, what things taste like, how to connect with people and how to communicate their needs. If we learn that quickly as babies, then the capacity for learning must be wired into us.

Nature learns all the time – species and plant life are constantly adapting to changing conditions. Birds change migration patterns, and animals shift territories. Nature runs on adaptive cycles, continually exploring, launching, maintaining and releasing habits, mindsets and behaviors. We are part of nature, not apart from nature. Therefore, we have the same adaptive capacity found in nature.

Given this adaptive capacity, perhaps we might grow to have more faith in the learning process of ourselves and others. Consider resistance as a form of germination, a time needed to resolve the dissonance between old and new ways of being. Resistance might also be a sign that we are learning and growing. Consider your faith in others as well. Do you write them off when it takes too long to see actual changes in their behavior or thinking? Or do you believe in their abilities to learn and grow?

Staff development and faith – an essential capacity for leaders

The development of the people on our teams is an integral part of leadership today. But development of the internal self is often unseen. Like roots developing under the soil, we must have faith that growing and evolving as an individual takes time to manifest. Plenty of detours and experiments are likely to occur before a new behavior or way of being takes hold and becomes apparent to others. With this in mind, we need to create conditions that nurture the development of our employees to become their highest and best selves. And when we take this task on, we need to cultivate our own faith that the development is happening even if we don’t see it yet. We need to honor the time it takes for growth to germinate below the surface and have faith that the change will appear when it is ready to be seen.