Hi. I’m Jon. I am an ex-Network Marketer. I haven’t shown someone “The Plan” in 20 years.
I often imagine myself going to a meeting of (if there was such a thing) Network Marketers Anonymous. It seems as odd to me confessing my former life in Amway as it would be to divulge to you that I used to be a drug addict. Essentially, any behaviour that brings a sense of euphoria, pleasure, or excitement can become addictive. In this way doing Amway may be likened to doing crack–except that it’s a lot easier to quit crack. [Just kidding!]
Rallies. Intense events, stage-managed to the minute to provide the most proven way of motivating a sales force ever, were highlights of the year. Big gatherings of 10,000 screaming distributors, dancing to some ex-Chart pop sensation or lapping up whatever dribble about dreams, beach vacations and spending sprees that was coming out of the mouths of fur-encased and diamond-studded 60-somethings . . .
But I digress.
One thing I took away from that decade of experience, among a small handful of positives, was the lesson taught by one Diamond Distributor (I can’t even remember his name) who said this: “Bloom where you’re planted.” He explained how life has a way of honouring those who worked hard in whatever situation they were in and who took whatever they had and made the most of it to grow personally, professionally, and spiritually.
In a crowd of thousands–99% of which were looking for the easiest and quickest way out of a J.O.B.–I imagined this wouldn’t go over well. In fact, I doubt if he himself really understood what he was saying (As my colleague whispered to me, “It’s easy to say that when you drive a Ferrari and own four beach houses and a yacht.”).
But it struck a chord with me. I wanted to succeed. I wanted to build a business that would release me from my day job so I could holiday full-time on the beaches of the world.
I wanted out, and if this was the way to do it, then, by golly, count me in!
Twenty years on, I can see more than ever the sense of what Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove calls in his book of the same title, The Wisdom of Stability. Others may call this settling down, but Wilson-Hartgrove adds a spirituality of community that is only gained by putting down your roots deep into life in a given place.
Wilson-Hartgrove illuminates the biblical and monastic understanding of why staying in one place is both a virtue, and good for you. “For the Christian tradition,” he writes, “the heart’s true home is a life rooted in the love of God.” When we cultivate an inner stability of heart – by rooting ourselves in the places where we live, engaging the people we are with, and by the simple rhythms of tending to body and soul – true growth can happen. (from the Publisher’s summary)
I think this is what St Paul had in his mind when he urged slaves not to seek to be free or Greeks not to seek to be Jews. He urged a contentment in the vocation and location in which they found themselves at the time.
Bloom–don’t just grow, but make something beautiful happen–where you’re planted. Do the very best with what you’re given. Be all you can be where you are. Create a life with what you have in yourself and around you. If life gives you lemons, make lemon meringue pie (it’s a lot tastier than lemonade!)
I am thankful that, amidst the Amway culture of the 80s, I took away a few good life lessons from those who were, perhaps, still trying to figure out life for themselves. And, although I still have a J.O.B., I can truly say it is here I am growing, creating, changing, blooming.
I don’t need diamonds to do that.