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Opinion: Be a Shamrock in a Time of Darkness

At a time when the world seems like it has gone crazy, we need more optimism, kindness and love. We need to be more like a shamrock in times of darkness, writes Steve Connelly.

After a long and brutal pandemic and now some dark clouds hovering sadly over eastern Europe bruising, many of us doubt the future of the world.

It’s gonna be all right.

I am of the belief that 90% of all people are good and kind, and the 10% who are not are loud, poisonous bastards who try to pollute the world with negativity and anger. I can’t blame you if you feel like there’s more dark than light in the world today.

But it’s gonna be alright. Because 90% is greater than 10%. That’s both math and life. We just need to let good and kind take root again.

As a point of proof, let me share a story. I have found that here in Ireland there are two seasons -cold and rainy and warm and rainy. The people here are eternally sunny. The weather not as much.

One of the first things I did after opening Connelly Partners Dublin was hire a brilliant Irish consultant to help us understand the market. I invited her to come to Boston, visit our company, feel our DNA, and provide some perspective. It was an exceptionally productive three days as she made us look long in the mirror, see our strengths, our faults, our opportunity. She taught us much, starting with the power of an omnipresent smile and ending with the art of finding human commonalities.

As I drove my new lifelong friend to the airport for her return flight home, she gave me a gift. A small shamrock plant. A few springs of green in a two inch square temporary pot. She wanted me to have a reminder of her visit, her lessons, and hoped that our luck would grow as the shamrocks did.

I took the plant home, transplanted it into a fine Kelly green ceramic pot, and trusted my green thumb to create an explosion of shamrocks.

I killed it.

At least I thought I did. All the springs withered, every tiny shamrock just wanted to lay down and take a dirt nap.

I took the pot, cut back all the dead stuff, and tossed the now Kelly green coffin into my garage. Buried on a dark shelf behind a cooler and a five year old can of polyurethane.

Winter came and as winters in New England do, it turned my garage into an icebox. Most days inside that garage were as dark as the inside of the freezer when the door is closed. A full year passed, another winter froze my garage, and the now forgotten pot froze again with it.

Spring came. Ever Mr. Green Thumb, I wanted to plant some ornamental orange tree seeds. I am exceptional at growing ornamental orange trees.

I went into the garage, and found the now dusty Kelly green pot. I massaged the soil a bit, worked a little Miracle Grow in there and planted my orange seeds. Gave the pot a good long soak and brought it into the sun of my front porch.

A few weeks later, my orange seeds began to pop. But I noticed another small sprig of something growing alongside my seeds. I didn’t pay the lone sprig much mind. Probably a weed. Two weeks passed. The orange seeds were growing strong and healthy, and the mystery spring was growing with it. I transplanted the two infant orange plants and gave them as gifts to a friend. I’m a giver.

The sprigs remaining began to grow. And grow. And soon filled the pot with Irish smiles.

Turns out shamrocks are bulbs. I didn’t know that. They go dormant. They actually like the dark. Cold doesn’t bother them in the dormant state. Apparently shamrocks actually like to rest for a while. But if you give them a little light and warmth, they’ll grow again.

The last two years sucked. Dark times. Depressing. Covid. Politics. BLM. Brexit. And now Ukraine.

But if the 90% of us do the little things, spread a little love, have a little optimism and positivity, life will grow again around us. All you need is a commitment to find the sun and willingness to reach for it.

Be a rock in times of chaos. Be a shamrock in a time of darkness. If I was the tattoo type I would get that one on my arm. But I’m not so I’ll just live that mantra rather than ink it.
It’s gonna be all right. Believe in the goodness of people. Let the loud 10% keep screaming out in the cold. The rest of us will warm the world with kindness.

And if anyone out there wants an ornamental orange tree, you know where to find me.

Steve Connelly is president and copywritter of Connelly Partners