Honor the Season

Happy Belated New Year! If you haven’t seen my New Year’s card, you might want to now……It is an animated drawing of the phrase “Honor the Season”.

A few months ago, I realized that I really do believe that “To everything, there is a season.” And that we would do well to honor that notion. Sometimes the season mirrors the seasons of the natural world and sometimes it does not. For instance, winter is often a time of rest and reflection, mirroring the hibernation and underground growth of the natural world. But sometimes, as in the past couple of winters for me, winter is a very busy time, even though my body seems to prefer the rest and reflection suggested by the natural world.

One thing I have determined for sure is that the “season” we are in is a fully embodied phenomenon. I have had many conversations with my coaching clients along the lines of: “I am having such a hard time concentrating”, or “I am having such a hard time getting the things done on my To-Do list”, or “I know I have to do this, but just can’t get myself going.” Our heads know that we have a To-Do list to accomplish, but our bodies, spirit, emotions, are resistant for some reason. And so we try to power through. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. Often we are fairly miserable doing it.

So, what’s going on? I believe that for me, and maybe for more of us than we are willing to acknowledge, we humans need time to transition from one thing to another. Sometimes we are not even sure what the next thing is. We need time to integrate. To synthesize. We also need time to recover and regroup in response to a personal, professional or societal loss or change. We need time to let the new direction and energy emerge.

Integration, synthesis and regrouping often begin in our bodies, much as spring growth begins underground during the winter. If we encounter low energy or feel resistant when we try to do something that we “need” to do or thought we wanted to do, or feel obligated or a responsibility to do, we need to pay attention. It is important information.

What if we were to honor those cycles? I think we would be way more productive in the long run. Slow down to speed up. It is similar to taking a break and going for a walk when you are trying to figure something out. The answer often comes while walking.

Honoring the season also relates to larger, societal seasons – the political seasons that swing back and forth, the parties that have power in one season and lose in the next. It is all a part of a cycle. We have to trust in the season and the cycle and at the same time, keep working towards what we believe. Hopefully, we are spiraling upwards towards the goals for the greater good of our society and humanity.

Referring to those cycles is the song, “Turn, Turn, Turn.”

To hear the song writer, Pete Seeger, click here.

To hear the Byrds’ version, click here.

There is a season for being industrious and a season for pause, a season for study and a season for synthesis, there is a season for social resistance and a season for prayer, a season for dialogue and a season for decision-making.

So, how is this relevant for leaders of organizations? Referring now to the seasons of our energy and motivation:

  1. We all have “work” to do. If the people who report to you are resistant, pay attention to them. The work still needs to be done, and it may require pushing through, but there may be alternatives: perhaps the timing is wrong or maybe there is a better way to accomplish the task or a better person to do it.

  1. Be careful of too many new initiatives all at the same time. People need time to transition and to assimilate changes. If that is not possible, at least acknowledge and validate their reactions. As Dan Heath says in “Switch” (2010): “What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.” And “What looks like resistance is often lack of clarity.”

  1. When organizations restructure or embark on a full scale change effort, the transition that people experience is defined by William Bridges, (2013) as a psychological process in order to adjust to the change. Honor that process and try not to demand that they hurry through it.

I have found in myself, witnessed in others and seen to be true in organizations that the most effective action results when we, as individuals or organizations, are fully aligned with our energy, goals and commitment. Important information can be found in our motivation, energy and feelings of resistance. If we experience something different than is expected or than we thought we would, we need to pay attention, then bring our intelligence to bear on whatever it is. We might “want” it to be other than it is. But if we pay attention, we will learn something important, make an adjustment and have a better result in the end. Fully embodied wisdom.

So, honor the season in yourself and others.

In 2018, I wish you a year of honoring whatever “season” you find yourself to be in, with grace, compassion and humor.

 


Martha Lask’s Blog

Occasional musings about books, articles or tools that might be of interest; I welcome your comments.

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