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Career Lessons from the Calla Lilies

When it comes to my flowers, I try not to pick favorites…but I have a few. As spring returns, I find myself looking forward to the return of the calla lily.

Though not technically a lily, these flowers have become known as such, living up to their name with elegance, charm, and more than a healthy dose of grit—not unlike the job seekers I have the privilege of partnering with.

And like every flower they hold a sort of symbolism. It’s fitting to me that the calla lily is symbolic of new beginnings.

In my garden, I’ve gotten to know these long-stemmed beauties. I’ve seen their resilience firsthand, marveled at their work, and learned from the lessons they hold.

Perhaps those lessons can help you, too.

The Calla Lily: Lessons in Flourishing

1. Location matters.

Proper planting and location are the most important things to consider when growing calla lilies. If they’re planted in full sun, the foliage may turn yellow. Full shade, few flowers bloom. That means partial sun is the best way to go.

The lesson: The same goes for your career. What works for others may not work for you. Unearth what you need from a work environment and then it’ll be easier to find the place where you can flourish.

2. Change can be necessary.

Calla lilies are revered for their resilience. Though you want partial sun for best results, they can grow pretty much anywhere—in water and through the icy chill of frost. In warm climates, these resilient flowers can be left in the ground during the winter. In colder zones, they can be dug up in the fall and stored indoors until being replanted in the spring. 

The lesson: Like the calla lily, you are resilient. If your work history can tell you anything, it’s this. But you don’t have to keep being resilient. Something as small as a change in location can ensure you do more than survive—you flourish.

3. Prioritize quality connections.

Calla lilies are social plants, growing best in groups and thriving when they’re planted near other calla lilies or similar plants (like dahlias or black-eyed Susans).

The lesson: Likewise, humans are inherently social beings, but the people who currently surround you may unconsciously inhibit your growth. Surround yourself with like-minded people—the ones who are adopting growth mindsets, the ones who support your journey, and the ones who help you thrive.

4. Help others when you can.

Calla lilies are a favorite of pollinators, and if you plant them, be prepared to watch bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies flock to them. They know a good thing when they see one. 

The lesson: As you find your way, others no doubt will be attracted to your journey and seek your help. You might find—without expecting it—that you have begun to network and build new relationships. Remember, networking is more about being of service to others than it is asking for a job.  

5. Give yourself time.

Most calla lilies need a rest period after flowering, but just because they’re dormant doesn’t mean nothing is happening. During this rest period, they are storing up new energy and regenerating.

The lesson: You are not so unlike the calla lily. Have patience in your own growth. Those periods of rest and inaction are not lazy. They are restorative, preparing you for your next steps.

Most importantly, what we often think of as the “petal” is actually the flower’s spathe (its protective sheath.) The actual flowers lie deep inside and they are numerousjust like your endless career possibilities.

Want to make like a calla lily and thrive? Here’s how to build relationships.

bucket of calla lilies on a path

When it comes to moving into a career you love, building relationships is a critical component. Some people call this “networking,” but I recognize that that word causes a lot of stress in people (myself included!).

In fact, I believe it’s time to rebrand the word “networking.” Networking is not about going to a stuffy meeting with a name tag and asking strangers for a job. It’s about building relationships in a way that’s comfortable for you.

If you prefer to talk 1:1 with people on the phone, do that. If you prefer to break the ice on social media, do that. If you’re more comfortable joining a group of like-minded people and volunteering for a cause, do that.

Here are some steps for getting started:

1. Search and find.

Identify people who do the job you want or who work in the industry or company you’re interested in. Then connect with them, talk with them, and find out how they got their start.

2. Break the ice through social media.

A quality connection can start with something as simple as a comment, a “like,” or a “share” of a post. It’s easy because it’s something we do anyway, and doing this consistently will help you thoughtfully grow your network. When I was a job recruiter, I often took notice of the people who consistently and genuinely engaged with my posts. And it got them interviews and jobs!

3. Let people know.

Are you looking to make a change? Tell everyone you know! Everyone knows someone and people inherently want to help. It’s in our nature. Once you let everyone know how they can help….if they can, they will. (The key to this one is…first YOU have to know what you actually want!)

4. Banish any anxiety about reaching out.

If you’re feeling nervous about asking for help, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What would you do if someone reached out to you for help? Most likely, you would feel honored and do what you could to support them. They will do the same for you.

5. Join online groups or communities.

In the online space, surrounding yourself with like-minded people has become easier than ever. Want a safe space intentionally filled with others looking to make (or making) career pivots just like you? You can find it in our group program, From Fried to Flourishing.

6. Lead with a service mindset.

Remember: Networking is not about asking for a job. It’s about listening to what a company needs and offering to help.

The Bottom Line: It’s Not Just Calla Lilies That Need to Thrive on Relationships

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the United States, over 70% of jobs come from networking. (Sorry to use that word!) To land your next best role, you MUST have a smart + comfortable networking plan. Luckily, I’ve done some of the hard work for you.

Just click below to download my 9-Step Networking Strategy Guide now.


Flourish Careers is a career coaching and consulting business dedicated to helping individuals find their unique path to flourishing professional success. Learn more about how we can help you here.

March 24, 2022

Career Lessons from the Calla Lilies

Career Lessons from the Calla Lilies

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