How I Surprised My Wife on Valentines Day and a Lesson for Economic Developers

"It only took me 21 years to make this happen." That's the thought that ran through my head back in September. I stood in the front yard surveying the masterpiece that would be. I had spent the day secretly planting tulip bulbs in our front flower beds.

You see Kimbra loves tulips and for the past 21 years, I have always wanted to surprise her with real tulips in our flowerbeds. There was a beautiful house in our neighborhood where our first home was and it always had flowerbeds overflowing with tulips. Driving by Kimbra always commented on how beautiful they were and we should do something similar.

The challenge in this seemingly easy task is to get tulips in February; you need to plant them in September or October the year before. Again, seems simple, but I am built Faster Than Normal and wired to act on impulse and intuition so taking the time to sit down and plan out something that will happen several months off is extremely hard for me to do at times.

So, while I was strolling through Costco last fall and saw the tulips, I was prompted to make the investment and take the action to plant the bulbs that I would use as a valentines day gift for my lovely redhead in February.

While I was working in the yard, it occurred to me that the planting and waiting for flowers is a perfect analogy that Economic Developers can use in getting their communities to invest in long-term strategic initiatives. Often there can be pressure on the staff responsible for doing economic development to produce immediate results with monies spent. So long term sustainable efforts can sometimes be overlooked in the push to get short term results.

Sustainable economic development is about cultivating an environment where the seeds of success can be planted and nurtured for future economic prosperity. This type of economic development can take time to bear fruit, but the long term results can be much more productive for the community.

The part no one talks about or gets excited about is the time between planting and harvest. The time spent tending the flowerbed. Weeding it and watering it while deep below the surface the magic happens. It can at times feel like nothing is happening. During this time people begin to doubt their efforts, doubt their investment and wonder if maybe they should be doing something different. This self doubt can go on until one day there is a glimpse of the future and success is realized as the flower breaks through the surface and shows that all the work and effort has paid off.

My message is just this. Trust in the process. Invest in the long game and plant the seeds today that will bloom in the spring. Tend the flowerbeds and prepare the garden and your flowers begin to blossom when it's time. You'll be glad you did.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Dave Quinn, CEcD is Chief Inspiration Officer for and Partner of DayOne Partners, a consulting firm specializing in public-private interactions. If you'd like to set up a time to visit with Dave about possible speaking engagements or to find out more about becoming a member of the DayOne family click here to set up a 30-minute discovery call.

Dave is a passionate keynote speaker and coach, encouraging others to be a positive influence in the world around them. As an economic development mastermind, wellness advocate and vision caster, he loves inspiring others through talks on Leadership, Wellness, Economic Development, and Personal Responsibility. Connect with him in the social media world: TwitterInstagram, and others @DaveQuinn247.