I was about to jump right into the next post of this series on social and emotional intelligence (S+EI) series but decided to interject this one instead. Several milestone events in the past few weeks, including the passing of my father-in-law on Christmas day, prompted some significant reflection on my part that I chose to put to the “page” here.
Another was coming across a daily devotional book during my annual end-of-year home office sweep. The title is Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life by Chuck Swindoll and was given to me by my in-laws back in the early 80’s when Diane and I became engaged.
Leafing through the pages and re-reading selected portions spurred a lot of memories, thoughts and emotions that had been about nearly as dormant and unturned as the pages of that book. So did reading the mark-ups and notes I made when I was 20 year old young man and new husband.
Aside from discoloration, he book hadn’t changed over the last 30yrs but I certainly have. Both the book and my own experience brought home full-force the fact that there are seasons of life that seem to have a natural pulse and rhythm that are just as real as the seasons of the calendar. I think the same thing can be said for our professional and business endeavors…they have their seasons as well.
Each of the four seasons offers insight if we take time to look and think. Winter is often seen as season for reverence and an ideal time for slowing down. Amidst the drab and gray there there can also be found beauty and excitement, as the avid skier knows. Spring is a season for renewal when new things are come into being all around us as well as a revival and budding of what has already been…lot’s of rain showers though. Summer brings with it lazy, hazy days for the young and can be characterized by rest and recreation, despite the sweltering heat waves we endure. Finally, Fall is a season of reflection when even the busiest and margin-less among us can’t but help and take in and appreciate all that has passed in a year. In fact, were sometimes mesmerized by it all. But we also know it can be a melancholy time for many who are missing the company of those no longer with them.
The common theme with each of the four seasons described above is that it cycles and has positive and negative facets. The other is that how we experience them is determined more by our own perspective, preparation and choice than it is due to environment and external conditions.
Much of our enjoyment and success in the events of the calendar seasons is because we recognize, anticipate and prepare for them. Why would we expect it to be any different for the personal and professional seasons of our lives as well? Most of the time it’s not that we don’t know these times are coming or when they’re here……the signs are usually all around us. The real reason is because we usually don’t take the time to look and think, or we don’t want to, or we’re just trying to survive the whirlwind of life that seems to be constant.
What season are you in right now, either personally or professionally (perhaps both)? If you can’t answer that question then the first step would be to take some time to reflect, think and figure it out if you want to grow strong and succeed. The signs signs are there, often right in front of you, but your going to miss them if you don’t simply to take some time to reflect and become aware.
Once you know what season you’re in, the following four questions will help you gain perspective and prepare in a way that serves your best interest as well as grow strong in that particular season:
- What do I really want for myself?
- What do I really want for others?
- What do I really want for my relationships?
- How would I behave if I really wanted these results?
Like many of the most important things in life, it’s simple….but hard to do. Knowing what season we’re in and shaping our perspective on it often gets lost as the urgent displaces the important and the daily whirlwind picks up speed with each passing year.
But you do have a choice. You can be an Essentialist and exercise your choice to become aware and answer these questions for yourself the way you want. On the other hand, you can just forget you have a choice, give it away and let others choose for you. Either way, how you grow and succeed is your choice.
As Mary Oliver said, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”