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Discovering Your Potential: A Flower Blooms in Adversity

flower blooms adversity

Take The Path To Discovering Your Potential

Last Friday began in a most beautiful way.  I was invited to have a conversation with my new friend, Theresa – a conversation that very quickly became both profound and meaningful.  We discussed some of the world’s current events; and as Theresa lives in the Netherlands, our focus naturally turned to her experience of what has now become a national week of mourning for her country.

Perhaps you’ve seen some of the news footage.  Over a 3-day period, processions of first 40 and then 74 and then 74 more hearses bearing the remains of victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 driving past international flags flown at half-mast as they began the 160-mile trip from Eindhoven to a Dutch military facility in Hilversum.  As the convoys made their journey each day, thousands of people came to watch and to mourn their country’s and the world’s loss.  

Last Wednesday, the Netherlands observed a national day of mourning – the first since the death of Queen Wilhelmina in 1962.  News stories share some of the emotions coming from those who observed.  “It is terrible”.  “Horrific”.  “I’m speechless”.  

As for my friend, Theresa, the experience has been what she describes as “hell on earth”.  

At the same time, Theresa shared that from this hell also came beauty.  She spoke of communities joining together during this extreme time of pain and the love that exudes from those who are willing to participate – to “walk to the bridge” to observe the procession – to be vulnerable – to show through action what resides in their hearts.  

We were left with a question.  Why?  Why does it take such a crisis to bring people together in meaningful ways?  At one level it is so very simple to come out and “walk to the bridge”.  Yet many if not most of us prefer to stay indoors.  

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Later Friday morning, after concluding the call with Theresa, I spent a little time on Twitter.  As I scrolled through the timeline, I was struck by a Tweet posted by Soulseeds:

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.”

This single quote felt exactly right, especially given all of what Theresa and I had been talking about just moments prior.  The quote comes from the Walt Disney Company’s animated movie, Mulan – words of wisdom to a young girl from the Emperor of China.

The meaning behind this quote originally comes from the earliest blooming flower in China – the Plum Blossom.  This beautiful tree does not wait for the warmth of Spring sun to shine its rays before it booms.  It blooms instead in winter – from January to late February — even before the leaves of the tree are fully formed – pushing through the snow and ice varying shades of white, pink and red flowers that have a strong fragrant scent.  And the colder it is, the more the plum blossom blooms – flourishing…thriving…permeating the air with its sweet smelling perfume.  

As one of few flowers that bloom in winter, these blossoms signify endurance, perseverance, strength, commitment and beauty – and in essence – the process of growth.  Despite severe weather conditions, each colorful petal grows through the winter storms.  And the harsher the conditions, the more buds come into bloom.  

Plum blossoms flower everywhere.  Where there is earth, they grow — fearless of ice and snow.  This is why the plum blossom was officially designated as the National Flower of the Republic of China in 1964.  It is a symbol for resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity.  It is also a symbol for longevity, as ancient trees continue to grow for a long period of time.  In Hubei, for example, there is a 1,600 year-old plum tree from the Jin Dynasty which still flourishes today.  

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There is an old Chinese proverb that states:

“When literacy is loved, the plum blossoms will open.  When learning is prohibited, the plum blossoms will close”.  

When we are not learning, we are not open.  We are not growing.  To continue to discover your path requires you to do so with endurance, perseverance, strength and commitment.  From all of this your beauty blossoms – that one special gift that only you possess.

Each of us is as unique as an apricot, cherry, peach or plum blossom.  “Cherry blossoms are cherry blossoms and plum blossoms are plum blossoms.  Accordingly, you must bloom in the way that only you can.  Without a doubt, you possess your own jewel – your own innate talent inside of you.” (Nichiren)

How can you discover that talent?  By applying yourself to the very limits of your ability.  Your true potential will emerge when you give everything you have to any effort, despite its hardships. Take the path of Discovering Your Potential, today.

Each and every person has the power to overcome all of life’s challenges — to live a life of value and become a positive influence in their world.  Acquire the tenacity to develop the spirit to learn everything you can where you are – to explore and discover the depths of your potential – your jewel.  

Challenge yourself.  

And as we all grapple with the natural, emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual hardships that come along our path, may we remember this story of the plum blossom; make a committed choice to participate; step out and “walk to the bridge.” Take the fork in the road leading to discovering your potential.


  1. George W on July 30, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Love your posts, Susan – keep them coming!
    George W

    • Susan on August 6, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      George: Thank you so very much for your kind words and encouragement! Most appreciated!

      • Katie Rubin on March 24, 2015 at 10:36 am

        As divine timing would have it, I found your lovely and illuminating post! Thank You so much.


        • Susan Taylor on March 26, 2015 at 7:09 am

          Thank you so very much, Katie for sharing with such thoughtful words.

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