Focused Enthusiasm: What You Can Learn from Bees to Get Your Business Buzzing
Before my husband and I decided to keep bees, I was under the impression that bees lived up to the “busy like a bee” cliche. Take a look at any flowering bush or vine in the summer and you’re bound to see dozens of little working honeybees flitting from one pollen patch to the next. To the untrained eye, all of this flying from one flower to the next, one plant to the next, seems chaotic at best. But, when you take the time to learn about these amazing creature’s work ethic, you realize that it’s anything but.
While the very first bees existed more than 130 million years ago, the honey bee evolved from its carnivorous wasp form, adapting a vegetarian lifestyle and promising to keep this planet hospitable (and beautiful) for all living creatures. Like the famous biologist E.O. Wilson said, “If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.” (There’s reason enough to be grateful for those oft considered pesky little buzzers.)
But, of course, there’s more to learn from the beautiful bee. Bees are busy, yes, but far more organized than most people realize. Rather than aimlessly going from one pollen-host to the next as quickly as possible, jumping from a cherry blossom to a blooming rose, bees choose one plant and then stick with it. Determined and focused, bees are one of the most highly productive creatures on the planet, which means studying them is fruitful to say the least.
When it comes to business, especially those of us stung by the entrepreneur bug, focus is a hard skill to master. Both long-term and in day-to-day life, it’s easy to find yourself wanting to hurry from one thing to the next, excited about the promise of a new opportunity, new adventure, new view… The problem, of course, is that this type of behavior makes it impossible to be efficient. And, in the world of business where time is money, most of us can’t afford to be inefficient with what we do.
While it’s tempting to hide behind the disguise of being busy all the time, hoping that success comes as a somewhat accidental side effect, busyness really has nothing to do with success. If bees were only concerned with how many hours they put in flying and collecting pollen, there’s no real way to gauge how much pollen they would actually collect. If a bee chose to fly three miles between every flower but came back to report that it had flown nine hours that day, the time spent wouldn’t matter to that bossy queen bee. She’d be pissed off!
Success, on the other hand, comes from something I like to call “focused enthusiasm.” When I spend time to watch the bees from my family’s two hives make their way through our backyard, focused enthusiasm is exactly what I see. While each bee is busy, each one is focused on a very specific part of a plant. Our now blooming trumpet vines vibrate with bees each morning, the little workers moving fastidiously from one orange flower to the next, checking off each one as they go. These bees never get ahead of themselves, wishing they were on another plant. They’re not distracted by the flowers on the rosemary bush or the vegetables flowering in our raised beds; they’ll get to them when they’re ready. And yet they never seem bored either. They never slow down or lose their buzz.
Focused enthusiasm, that’s the trademark of the little honeybee's success.
Imagine how much more you’d get done each day, each year, if you focused in enthusiastically on the task at hand? Rather than allowing yourself to venture from one opportunity to the next or tell yourself that you’re going to be successful simply because you’re putting in hours, try zeroing in on one thing and then staying with it until it’s complete. Yes, that rosemary bush might smell lovely. Yes, it might be packed with brilliantly blue flowers. But, there’s no reason to rush there right now - not when the plant you’re on is still filled with loads of sweet potential.