September 9

Tapping a Maple

September 9, 2016

Personal Growth

From early childhood, we learned to fear the pain of disapproval from others, and for most of us that fear continues into adulthood—as we demonstrate by a variety of behaviors. One way we avoid disapproval is by avoiding mistakes, which we do by avoiding decisions. So many people are paralyzed by decisions. Every day somebody calls me to say, “I just don’t know what to do,” when they really mean, “I’m so afraid of making a mistake.”

It’s not uncommon for me to respond, “Just make a decision, and move forward.”

“But what if it’s the wrong one?” they say.

“Who cares? Right now you’re stuck at NO decision, and that’s not going to go well. You’ll go nowhere now, and your failure to make a choice will make it all the easier for you to do nothing next time. Make a decision based on your best information, intuition, and inspiration. Then learn from your choice.”

In the northeastern United States and in parts of eastern Canada, maple syrup is produced by draining sap from sugar maple trees. Some trees produce a great deal of sap, while others produce very little. How do they know which trees will produce the most? While there are some general predictors—size, soil, health of leaves, and more—the only way to know for sure how much sap a tree will produce is to hammer a specially designed tap (a sharpened tube) to a certain depth in the trunk and measure the volume of the sap as it drips out.

If you stand in a grove of sugar maples, paralyzed by wondering which trees to tap, or agonize over what your overall production will be, your yield will be zero, and you will fail utterly. The only way to produce maple syrup is to tap the trees, one after another, and await the results. It can be a great deal of work, with tapping, gathering, and processing—which is why genuine maple syrup is relatively expensive—but the only way to succeed is to get to work. Move.

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