We have all heard the phrases, “A purpose-filled life,” “Living life with passion,” “Living life with zeal,” etc. Well, we can’t leave out “YOLO.” About a decade ago, one of my sons was telling me he wanted to do something I considered reckless. I told him to wait. His response was, “Life is short. This is something I am compelled to do now. YOLO.” I gave him a blank look and he responded with, “You have to live life to its fullest. Any moment wasted is never recaptured. Sometimes, you have to be reckless.” I am not asking anyone to be reckless. However, I do implore you to live life with meaning. Live life with a sense of urgency. In life, there is no do-over, nor is there a dress rehearsal. Are you living your one life to its fullest? Hence, the title for this essay is YOLO (you only live once).
In this essay, I will use analogies from my hobbies as an avid gardener and beekeeper. In the winter, everything in the plant world shuts down. In the honeybee world, everything slows down. During the fall, the plants and bees store energy to prepare for the eight months of Minnesota winter. Okay, I am kidding. It is probably closer to five months. But, it is this stored energy that allows them to come alive in the spring. Without this stored energy, they would die. Also, for some plants, this timeout in winter allows seeds to become ready for germination. For example, an apple seed would not germinate without the dormancy of winter.
Coded into seeds from many years of evolution is the message: As soon as spring comes, they need to explode in growth and capture the right moment to germinate. They have to be ready to take advantage of the long daylight hours, capture the energy from the sun, and put it into plant growth for seed production. For example, the pervasive crabgrass that is the bane of many lawn folks is eagerly awaiting the soil temperature to reach 55 degrees for a few days before germinating. At this temperature, it has probably figured winter has passed and the likelihood of freezing to death has passed.
However, once it germinates, its sole purpose is to grow and produce more seeds for the ensuing generations. You can say, the plant has a zeal for life. It has a purpose. Its goal is to live life with zest and grow vigorously as it sends out roots to take in as much nutrition from the soil as it can and put it toward leaf and seed production so it can survive another brutal winter. The better the seeds the grass produces, the better they will survive winter and flourish the next year.
For the bees, a similar thing happens. Going into fall, they store many gallons of honey which they will use as a source of energy. They also collect a lot of pollen which they use as food protein. In the winter, a hive will probably use a gallon of honey a month. In Minnesota, if they are to survive, bees have to have about 5-7 gallons of stored honey. Now to do this, bees must exploit every available moment in the summer as they visit flowers to get nectar and pollen. These are stored within the hive. If these bees do not have passion, zeal, zest, etc. in the summer, they will not survive winter. If they do not live with a sense of urgency, they will literally freeze to death in the winter. They use the honey to generate heat to stay alive. Wired into the bees is the code that says, if we are to survive, we must live life with purpose. The zeal for life is what makes bees so busy.
Fun bee facts:
- Honeybees must gather nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey.
- One bee has to fly about 90,000 miles — three times around the globe — to make one pound of honey.
- The average bee will make only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
- A honeybee visits 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip.
- A honeybee can fly for up to 6 miles and as fast as 15 miles per hour.
- The bee’s brain is oval in shape and about the size of a sesame seed, yet it has a remarkable capacity to learn and remember things. For example, it is able to make complex calculations on distance traveled and foraging efficiency.
- Honeybees communicate with one another by dancing.
- A colony of bees consists of 20,000 to 60,000 honeybees and one queen. Worker honeybees are female, live for about 6 weeks, and do all the work.
So, whether you are a seed or honeybee, it is imperative you live life with passion, zeal, zest, and a sense of urgency. How can we apply this philosophy to our professional life? We need to find places to work where we can identify and resonate with the organization. A few months ago, I read in The Wall Street Journal some comments from employees who worked with enthusiasm, passion, zest, and zeal. Here are the comments:
“Literally helping to save the entire world right now.”
“It’s the first time I felt this isn’t only a job. We’re on the front lines now.”
“Hey, I work at the place that makes that.”
“It feels like we have a responsibility now.”
“Everybody is counting on us to do our part.”
Now, are these people working at some prestigious, glamorous company? No, they work for Lysol. Sometimes, we postpone our passion waiting for the right opportunity to live life with enthusiasm and zeal. So, whether you use the analogy of the seed or the bee, remember it is imperative to hustle when the moments are right and not waste the resource of time. Have a plan and execute it. At the end of the day, it is not the right company that matters. It is the mindset and a choice to live in the moment to the fullest. Remember, YOLO.
Phillips, M. (2020, April 21). The workers at a Lysol plant have a mission now; At a New Jersey factory making the disinfectant spray, employees are feeling inspired and on the front lines against the coronavirus. The Wall Street Journal (Online); New York, N.Y.
Matter of Trust.org. (n.d.). 20 amazing honey bee facts! Retrieved from https://matteroftrust.org/20-amazing-honey-bee-facts/