Note: Following first appeared as a client letter on August 29th.
Wedged in between historical events this week and the coming Labor Day holiday lies a question that’s worth asking: Is it a new season? How do I (or would I) know?
The obvious answer is Yes, of course it’s a new season. School is starting back, and football season will soon commence. Technically speaking, however, summer is summer for nearly another month. Humidity and fat mosquitoes confirm that fact.
So what exactly is the question asking? New seasons in our shared context generally mean something has changed either voluntarily or involuntarily and requires thoughtful action. Perhaps it’s a new job, position or promotion. Or maybe it’s the alternative: No job, retirement or reduced professional capacities. Going a little wider than self, new seasons also describe changing industries or market landscapes, which could describe everything these days. New rules of engagement are a common theme right now. Few know what these rules are, but everyone is willing to admit things have changed to the point where the old rules no longer apply.
If you think you’re in a new season or approaching one, consider the following truths that may confirm what you’re already experiencing:
1.) Something feels different. Uncomfortable even. The way you’ve been doing things no longer seems to generate the same response that it always has created. If you’re smart, you’ll stop for a minute, consult wise counsel and try to understand what’s really going on. If you’re smart but unwise, you’ll continue to power through the existing construct, discarding what others who care might have to say. Perceptually speaking, the latter point seems to describe the current national political state and everything that is contained within.
2.) Others begin to notice the change or that you’re either considering or moving in a different direction despite the fact that you have not shared what you’re doing. Energy levels may be lower or moods might not be as positive. As basic as this may sound, generally speaking, the decision to move in new directions is generally made for us while the rest of our time is spent trying to make up lost ground. Those closest to us are more objective about these movements than we as our own masters could ever be. On the other extreme, beware of what Bruce Wilkinson calls “border bullies” in his timeless book titled, “Dream Giver.” Border bullies stand at the front lines, preventing growth largely because they think they are going to lose you or something at the expense of what you’re trying to change. Instead of picking them off one by one, learn and apply something from the feedback. Border bullies are not your enemies.
3.) Reactions to normal situations, or not so normal situations, tend to be at the extremes. Either dramatically positive or very negative. Moderation during moments of change is nearly impossible to achieve emotionally. Nor should it be in my view. Within reason, of course. A smarter, wiser friend once said that “tension sparks creativity.” No truer words have been spoken in the context of change. Key is how to channel the tension and creativity into forward moving steps.
4.) No one else sees what you see. This speaks to both the power and danger of personal vision. Power lies in the passion with which you see what you see. Danger lurks when what you see may not be supported by fact, rationale or market value via specific reward. I personally think this is where the saying, “don’t let facts get in the way of a good argument” found its business origins. Be careful with this one. Chances are if you can’t transfer your vision effectively to enroll others then change efforts will fall short.
Embrace whatever season you may be in. If you’re considering a new one, then drop a line or two. It’s always informative to hear from the experiences of others. Happy Labor Day,