The Plant and the Pot - a Metaphor for moving on

Trying to decide whether to stay in a role or organisation, or move on? Finding that emotion is getting in the way? This metaphor might help.

Many plants need a pot in order to grow. The pot provides some support and helps retain soil, water and nutrients.

As the plant grows above the soil, it also spreads its roots inside the pot. Eventually the roots become too dense. The pot that once nourished and supported the plant becomes the very thing that constrains it.

If the plant continues to be constrained in this way, it starts to die and no amount of new soil, water and nutrients will bring it back to health.

The only route to health is for the plant to move to another pot in which there is just enough space to grow. Not too much. But not too little.

The plant is just doing what plants do, and the pot is just doing what pots do. Neither is right or wrong. All that's important is to identify whether the pot nourishes or constrains the plant. If it constrains it, it's time to find a new pot.

And so it is with our working lives.

Accepting this simple truth is usually enough to disperse the emotion and enable objective decision-making.