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The Seed: 9 Pieces of Advice for Graduates

In his new book, The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work, international and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Jon Gordon tells the story of Josh, a guy who, like so many of us, has lost his passion at work. When Josh’s boss challenges the young worker to take two weeks off to assess his attitude and intentions, Josh heads to the country. There, a farmer hands him a seed and tells him that when he discovers the right place to plant the seed his purpose will be revealed to him.

This tale takes readers on a quest to explore their own passion, purpose, and happiness in life and work. The themes presented are most appropriate for graduates just embarking on their path.

Here, then, are nine such lessons presented in the story, in the words of Gordon:

1. Focus on Get to instead of Have to.

While commuting to work focus on what you “get to” do instead of what you “have to” do. With gratitude realize that you don’t have to do anything. You get to go to a job while so many are unemployed. Gratitude floods your body and brain with emotions that uplift you and energize you rather than stress hormones that drain you.

2. Don’t expect your boss, co-workers and customers to make you happy.

Realize that happiness is an inside job. Our happiness has less to do with forces outside of us and more to do with what’s inside of us. The way we think about work, feel about work and approach our work influences our happiness at work. You’ll also be happier when you focus on what you are giving instead of what you are getting.

3. Don’t seek happiness.

Ironically if you want to be happier don’t seek happiness. Instead share your strengths and decide to work with passion and purpose and happiness will find you. The research shows that people are most energized when they are using their strengths for a bigger purpose beyond themselves. Whatever your job, decide to bring passion to it and find purpose in it. Every job will get mundane and “old” if you let it but purpose and passion keep it fresh and make you happier.

4. Focus on excellence instead of success.

When you focus on success you can easily fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others, looking over your shoulder, feeling envious, playing office politics, and competing against coworkers instead of collaborating. However, when you focus on excellence you measure yourself against your own growth and potential. You strive to be the best you can be. You simply focus on getting better every day and this makes work more meaningful and rewarding.

5. Celebrate together.

While we shouldn’t depend on others to make us happy, by building a positive team or support group at work we will be happier. So instead of expecting others to make you happy you proactively create the positive relationships that enhance your engagement, productivity and happiness. One great way to do this to huddle with your team/group at the end of the week and have each person share their accomplishments, victories, and great moments of the week.

6. Be the seed.

Seeds surrender themselves to the ground so they can be used for a greater purpose. Wherever you work, decide to plant yourself where you are and allow yourself to be used for a greater purpose. When you plant yourself and make a difference you grow into the person you were born to be and produce a harvest that will benefit others and change the world.

7. Embrace adversity.

So often the worst event of your life prepares you for the greatest assignment of your life. Adversity shapes us into the people we are meant to be and prepares us for the work we are meant to do. Our job is to learn and grow from the challenges we face.

8. Don’t rush the future.

There is a process that seeds must go through in order to become all they are destined to become, and you must go through this same process to become the person you are meant to be and do the work you are meant to do. You may want things to happen NOW but more than likely if you got what you wanted NOW you wouldn’t be ready for it. The purpose process prepares you, strengthens you, shapes you and grows you to be successful, not in your time, but in the right time. Learn from every job and experience. Every job, good or bad, prepares you for the work you were ultimately born to do.

9. Read the signs.

Signs come in many forms. Advice from mentors, teachers, and even strangers. Magazine and newspaper articles, things we see and hear on television and the radio. Even real signs on the side of the road can often prompt us and move us in a certain direction. I believe that certain people come into our life at certain times for a reason and our job is to be open to these signs and follow them to a more positive future.

The Seed: 9 Pieces of Advice for Graduates

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Therese J. Borchard

Therese J. Borchard is a mental health writer and advocate. She is the founder of the online depression communities Project Hope & Beyond and Group Beyond Blue, and is the author of Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes and The Pocket Therapist. You can reach her at or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

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APA Reference
Borchard, T. (2018). The Seed: 9 Pieces of Advice for Graduates. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 9 Jun 2011)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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