My goodness, do we human beings ever love passionately leaping into the lavish arms of summer! We go hog wild plunging into the warm waters, lighting fragrant fires to cook our communal feasts, baking our bodies in the sun and reveling in the lingering daylight. Summer gets to be way too much for me by the middle of it, but I have to confess to one “summer sin”.
I sometimes get cross-eyed “summer drunk”. What?
“Summer drunk” is that sluggish, torpid state of having too much of everything at one time and acting like it will never end. Do you remember last year’s Thanksgiving feast how it felt to be so painfully full after? This is what I mean when I say it is possible to get “summer drunk” any time there is so much blessing and so much overflowing bounty of growth and prosperity. It just becomes extremely hard to keep balance of vision. Summer is here, but winter is also on the direct opposite side. Better to freeze some of that turkey!
There is another danger inherent to gardeners in the summer–laziness and carelessness born of all that comfort and coatless-ness. A creeping forgetfulness particularly associated with this season can make us neglectful to watch for the weeds and diseases that are also springing up right beside the good crops. No garden is without pests or weeds. There is waiting underground a malicious, opportunistic crop not deliberately planted that will not refuse to suck up any nourishment from our cultivated beds. I have observed that the better the soil, the better kept the garden, the higher class of weeds spring up and the more diligent must be the tending.
In the garden and in a career it is important not to get “summer drunk” and forgetful to manage the overflow of summer’s fast, lush growth. While intoxicated (flush?) with present success In the most productive times of life, future old age and disability never come and unemployment happens to inferior others. As a younger professional I saved too little and followed fashion too much. I have since learned that life moves cyclically and as sure as there is an overflowing summer, there is also a starving winter so, it makes sense to learn how to “can” summer produce. That means, learn to save habitually, invest well and spend wisely.
Life is like a non-stop celebration as we begin the season dedicated to rapid, over-the-top growth. When we were younger we may have wished summer would never end. This is the most productive season of life in a career and in a job. Once past the gawky, springtime “new grad/intern” stage, we burst out of formal schooling’s constraints. Familiarity with the rhythms of “the routines and rituals” at work makes confidence grow like morning-glory vines. After the “new-hire” stage we apply the learning we have been so greedily sopping up and hard buds soften into flowers.
Summer allows nothing to hide. There is too much color; too much fragrance; too much movement; too much noise. Everybody notices the new clothes, louder laughter and longer strides in the hallways. As the social meanings of being introverted or extroverted come into full display in meetings and in teams it pays to have a deep, personal understanding of which kind of cultivar one is. While roses reign in their sunny spaces, ferns prefer the comfort of the maple’s shadow. Both thrive in different places in the same garden.
I love indoor container gardening as well as outdoor gardening so I learned–sometimes the hard way–to honor the fact that some tropical plants hate being in drafts and desert-origin plants are natural-born sun worshipers. There is no shame about being either one. So it is with a workforce.
Savvy human capital professionals understand how to choose the right people for the right positions in a company. Workers who understand what kind of environment they need for personal optimum growth will choose a company “garden” wisely.
Spring is a hopeful spirit who rises from death in snowdrops and daffodils. As a child growing up in Norfolk, VA, I remember my mother used to restart the kitchen garden each year a few weeks after Equinox when the ground was soft and warm enough to plant directly. I remember her telling me to put three seeds in the hole. “One for the ground, one for the birds and one to grow”, she said. To think about it, the seeds of a career are not that much different.
ONE FOR THE HOLE
Not every idea seed we sow will grow into a productive career. Some seeds are “duds”. Sally Jessy Raphael tried out for 142 voiceover acting jobs and never got a single one. She was fired 18 times from broadcasting jobs before she became the nationally acclaimed talk show host we know. Every alleged “overnight sensation” has “paid the dues” in darkness and obscurity for years. The seed “for the ground” is almost like an offering given at the beginning of a project to honor your “grounding/base”. To this day there is a suspicion that some of the mishaps that took the lives of immigrant construction workers while they were building the earliest transportation infrastructure of this nation in the 19th and early 20th centuries (including the Transcontinental Railroad and the Erie Canal) were not accidents, but offerings to the earth like the one said to have been performed before raising the great Irish round fort, Emain Macha (Eamhain Mhacha).
ONE FOR THE BIRDS
Some seeds end up as food for the crows or get dug up by other critters living in the garden. The “one for the birds” is any misbegotten, meshuggener idea of building a career on weaknesses instead of innate strengths. This is “operating outside your gift” such as the nurse who ought to be a researcher; the teacher who ought to be an administrator. This is the folly of walking a path not your own because “mom/friend/school guidance counselor told me this would be good for me”. Using the example of my own life, I fought hard to become an administration worker though it was obvious that kind of job is like a prison for me. It was only when I decided to stop “playing it safe” in my career search that I found my true calling.
ONE TO GROW
The prosperous, strong seed is the one whose taproot pieces through the crust of misdirection and life’s nonsense, boring a channel to the place where it will strike water and begin building a richly branched network anchor in the correct soil. May I reemphasize that this seed will only grow strong roots in a profession through diligent, persistent networking?This is the seed which in its season will stretch upward leaves toward the sun and begin bringing food and color to the plant. The strong career seed is the one directly in synch with innate strengths, gifts and talents. We must labor to ensure that we set this seed up for optimum development of the bud that will become flower and fruit.
Champagne toasts, red envelopes and fireworks celebrating the appearance of a new year are like the “bridge” in a song. They alert us that another theme/melody/movement/directional change immediately follows. The same visual triggers also prompt movement in other areas of life. People building new careers or making bold professional moves are not disregarding or disengaging from reality when they hear the tinkle of glasses and the midnight gong. The “sudden” far-away look in their eyes is not to be mistaken for some unclassified madness. It is the early-stirring “Snowdrops” of intention and direction. The earliest manifestations of the end of a career/ job winter might be unusual inner calm; a mysterious confidence that defies the obviously icy outer conditions.
Confidence developed during the winter is churning out energy for the mind’s muscle in response to the brightening light of renewed purpose and hope. One day soon, the air will have that distinctive, sparkling smell of spring and the iron cold of winter will loosen its hold. The Winter Crone’s cloak will turn into Brighid’s mantle. In this very moment there is work to be done in rhythm with the steadily increasing pace of development below the ground. It is now time to start the first seeds of the new reality indoors.
The seed of taking on a new profession in the earliest stages of development needs protection the most. It should be started indoors close to the heart and others who can guide the growth and development. Newly taken professional direction is a fragile plant because it still needs to develop the strong roots of experience and the sturdy stem of practitioners’ community that will keep it standing against the blustering suspicions of experts, friends and relations.
This is the time of beginnings: the season to welcome a new year and a new professional–a cultivar unproven with bloom never before seen. It is not a wish; not a threat, but a promise.
It is too easy to dismiss this very long, very dark, very cold (In the northern part of the globe at least) season when everything skids to a rude end and collapses into lifelessness. Has death won? Look again. Winter is really where things begin. Beneath her icy quilt the silent land is dreaming of spring. Bulbs need winter to gain strength as they wait for the first thaw. I remember bringing home a packet of heather seed years ago that failed to grow. Though I passed the seed for specific times in and out of the refrigerator according to the directions, none of my doings could never mimic a Scottish winter. It has always impressed me how the rose of the highlands links arms with winter in a circle dance of thaw-harden-thaw that actually promotes growth.
We humans also retreat into some place of warmth in our hearts and minds during the earth’s winter and in the winters of jobs, careers and lifetimes in a massive, pensive moment of resting, rethinking, dreaming and planning. Naturally a slow time, winter is a magic season perfectly suited for healing, recovery and regaining from loss; where the reweaving of broken dreams and ideas for entirely new forms happens. Days are mercifully short and nights languidly extensive enough to work things out privately, away from summer’s blaring noise and frenzied activity. We do, because of our natural fear of darkness, periodically distract ourselves with gaudy, artificial glitter at this time. However, this is winter’s real work: making a quiet space for memory, analysis, evaluation and reformation. It is the time we stockpile deep wells of creative energy to fuel the ardor of the coming spring .