A 100-year-old Stayman Winesap apple tree in full bloom is a pretty majestic sight.
That's all my wife and I remembered from a tour of the 38-acre farm in Check, Virginia that we purchased soon afterward.
We raised our two sons there, in addition to dogs, cats, chickens, fruit trees, berry bushes, a vegetable garden and more than a few eyebrows.
Every year the apple tree bore fruit in such abundance that we couldn't keep up with processing and canning apples or pressing them into cider. The boys spent endless hours climbing that tree. My wife spent countless hours gazing out at it from her office window.
One spring, the apple tree was so loaded with blooms that it visibly vibrated with the pollination activity of bees. The limbs became so loaded with apples that they had to be propped up with two-by-fours.
The very next year the tree was obviously in distress. It appeared to be dying. My wife and I, and our boys, were devastated.
We called the county agricultural agent out to take a look and see if there was anything we could do to save our beloved tree. After taking a long look, he explained that the previous year had been the tree's "final flourish." Its last-ditch effort to put out as much fruit as possible. The apple tree's last attempt to realize its purpose.
The tree never put out another apple. A few years later, dead and rotting from within, it toppled over during a severe storm.
This happened as my 50th birthday approached. I was contemplating both my own mortality and my purpose. The tree's demise put a fine point on my thoughts. How was I going to develop and deliver on my potential? What endeavor could I engage in that would tap my promise and nourish others?
You don't know when your last moment will be. However, at this moment recognize that it will come. Begin an endeavor to fulfills your purpose, develops your potential, and taps your promise.
It may not yet be time for your final flourish, but it is time to thrive more through work aligned with your values, talents, and tribe. It's time to make a difference through work that matters. It's time to choose your next endeavor.
Keep Flying Higher!
This is an excerpt from the book, Endeavor: Cultivate Excellence While Making a Difference.