There is a wonderful story about how a wild oyster makes a pearl and while some debunk it as a myth the result is something of naturally genuine beauty and value.
As the story goes a grain of sand is trapped between the mantle folds of the oyster and the shell. The oyster produces a substance called nacre which is the same substance we identify as mother of pearl and which makes up the interior of the shell. Nacre is tougher than concrete, lighter and hard.
Sensing the irritation, the oyster continues to layer the nacre over the minute particle and so over time – years in fact – creates one of the most stunning natural gem that we recognise as a pearl.
If we take the analogy of that story and apply it to our own, in hindsight we can often find the path from an uncomfortable event or experience that has shaped our character, our thinking and our behaviour.
Apparently, any mollusc that can make a shell can make a pearl and as with humans, you don’t need to be a particular type to become something that others value or that provides value to others.
If you were to do a deep dive (that’s also how they used to collect pearls) and identify the things that make you uncomfortable, the things that you know would – if dealt with – make you a happier or better person, what changes could you make that, when reinforced and layered over time, would shape your life into one that is directed by meaning.
I was talking with a friend the other day and he was struggling to accept that a decision had been made about his leadership role which had him moved sideways into a position that was more of an analyst and one he initially he couldn’t see himself doing. He was disgruntled, irritated and disaffected.
As we spoke and explored the opportunity he had been given he came to realise that, if his career was going to go where he wanted to, he would need to build skills outside his comfort zone to be of real value, not only to the business but also to himself as he made choices in the future.
There are many things that irritate in the places and people with whom we work, rest and play. The fact is that the irritations are within us and acknowledging them as opportunity to explore provides the first layer for our development which – as with the creation of the pearl – should take a lifetime.
By the way, I love to eat oysters too.