Just as nature goes through her seasons, so do we, and so do our businesses and endeavours. There are different seasons for different things, and realizing this means we can take advantage of each season as it comes, even if we can’t always dictate the season itself.
Winter can sometimes feel like the harshest season to be in. Nothing is particularly joyful, and occasionally the environment can feel down right cold and uninviting. In many ways, it feels like Winter in Zimbabwe at present. But Winter is a time of consolidation and often, without it, we’re unprepared for the change of season to warmer things.
Trees don’t spend extra energy trying to deny it’s Winter by forcing out green leaves and flowers despite the harsh temperatures. They conserve their outward energy, and they use that energy to thicken their bark and deepen their roots. They use what they may have stored during the growth months to invest in themselves, stabilize and develop themselves so that they’re fully prepared for what comes next. Occasionally we need to prune a few branches so that we don’t use up energy trying to keep sick parts alive.
We assess, we write new programs, we train, we invest in our teams, we reconsider our systems and what needs pruning. We prepare. Winter is a time of growth, just in a different direction.
Spring is a time of rebirth when all the preparations made during Winter start to emerge. New programs are launched, new clients are met, the first few steps are taking down new ideas. It’s a tentative and sometimes experimental stage. A delicate stage where the first feelers are put out after the Winter consolidation and we watch to see what the results will be and whether these new buds will survive and grow. We watch to see what will roll and what will fall away. We note the Winter casualties and resolve to nurture what remains.
Summer is a full tilt, warm and sunny season of growth. A celebration of strength and expansion where the planning and consolidation of Winter has stood us in good stead and the rebirth of Spring has blossomed into something stronger and more robust. Programs, businesses and relationships are in full swing. Nature knows well enough that, whilst it’s a time of beauty, relative ease and reward, it’s also a time of storage and preparation for the Winter that will inevitably come back around. Fruits of the Summer labour are stored up, energy stores replenished, and debts paid.
Autumn serves as a natural decline from the Summer fervor into a more reserved, softer season. The last stores of energy are pushed into maturing fruits and harvests are collected and secured away. Debts are called in and the Summer indulgences packed away. We look to the changing leaves, mellowed temperatures and less friendly wind to signal the change and we prepare.
And then Winter rolls around again enabling us to take advantage of all we grew and stored during the Summer months. Allowing us time to go within, to prune back and to deepen our roots.
We personally go through these seasons. So do our relationships, partnerships, businesses and projects. In more technical language, it’s known as the Sigmoid Curve. A curve which signifies the initial implementation period and the accompanying decline as we get used to new things, followed by the upward surge of growth and the inevitable leveling off and decline as the energy dissipates again.
Our job as leaders is to note the phases or seasons that we’re in. To plan for them accordingly when we have control of them, and to act accordingly when we don’t. Leadership means acknowledging that seasons are cyclical and that each has its strength and use. Fighting them is to go against the grain of nature. Acknowledging them and using them to our best advantage is your greatest position of strength.
by Christen Killick
October 29th, 2018