If there is any one summer task that typifies the season, it is weeding. Weeds grow…well, like weeds in the summertime garden. Weeds spring up in career planning movements too. A weed is any plant that is out of place or out of context in the garden. A flower somewhere else is a weed where it is not welcome.
A wild rose springing up in a pedigreed rose bed is a weed. Ivy dangling in a hanging pot is cute. Helix sprawling wild, overpowering other plants in a yard is not so cute. The way a corporation relates to a worker is determined by whether or not that worker is looked upon as a weed or a flower. Question: Was the hiring placement appropriate? A worker might thrive and bloom in one kind of work environment, but be utterly barren and ugly somewhere else. Do oaks grow in the desert? Do aloe thrive on the seashore?
This is the reason for having carefully thought out career management strategies. For well-informed career decisions to be made it is necessary to know, understand and honor personal cultivar—-one’s own nature, personality and needs. the lessons of the garden and a bit of ancient wisdom taught me to always take a comprehensive view of any project before starting it, or risk being embarrassed by the results of bad planning. This includes deciding not to accept incorrect job placements in companies whose missions and cultures would make me like a rose in the desert or dandelion in a front lawn. Shriveled. Miserable. Unwelcome. Weed. Surviving several bad job decisions in my life taught me to make sure to make that target jobs are in line with well thought out career goals so to not end up as heather in the desert.
How do you know it’s mid-summer, June 21, in a career? How do you know it is Solstice?
Favor at work with supervisors and coworkers
Vibrant green finances: good salary, great perks, and fantastic benefits
Status symbols: cars, jewelry, season tickets to exclusive events
High regard as a producer: awards, plaques, honors, trophies and trips
High regard as a citizen in the community: owner of “ground beneath my bed”, leader of the “movers and shakers”, busy and constantly sought out
Enough to eat and to provide to others
Popularity: business in a growth phase, relationships/networks deep and wide
“All is well” in the soul
These are some of the manifestations of the abundant, verdant mid-summer in life and in a career. This is when Life spreads a joyous feast and we roll in her gracious lap, privileged to plunge both our whole hands in the deep cream and stuff ourselves silly.
I remember in the early days at my very first professional job when I was a new-hire just out of university. I haughtily gazed out of the painted-shut kitchen windows of my first rented apartment and dared dream of owning a condo on the East Side of Providence, Rhode Island with a view of the river. All was as it should be. I walked down the street from my good-salaried job at the end of working days to a lavishly appointed restaurant with the dark, medieval feel I prized and fearlessly ordered Black Angus steak cooked exactly the way I liked it as if I were a Tudor in exile.
Having inherited AAA credit from my mom, who was a homeowner, I observed how she managed the household’s money. That is why I had the awareness to save and my financial “pile” grew very well. However,only a few months later my fortune suddenly changed at work, and my “pile” shriveled like a fallen leaf. Nobody instructed me how to protect myself; nobody shared my sorrow; nobody caught me when I fell like a weevil-infested bud.
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.
The cold and snow reminds us of winter, but the earth is warming. The light is brightening. No matter what day it is on the local wall calendar, if the distinct signs of career spring are present, then it is career St. Brighid’s Day. Hope and ambition’s fires take the kindling and leap into passionate life.
The beginning of career / job spring is the time spanning the end of pre-employment negotiations through the final “yes” handshake. The ink is stone dry on the agreement and the applicant morphs into new hire.
Several things are now top-of-the-list important but most important of all is the immediate application of the “First 100 days” plan. The First 100-days plan might be a note in the margin on an overall Life Management Plan, the master plan that embraces every aspect of living on the planet earth: career management, professional development, intellectual expansion, physical care, community relations and spiritual growth. It should be ready to be lifted right out of the general career marketing/management plan part of career management. (Once again, already well thought out and written down during career winter. This is another reason the work of winter is so important.)
A Cautionary tale
Around February, I can smell the change in the air, so when I get a “whiff” of spring (my sinuses never lie) and the sunlight slants a certain way, I check to see if the ground is soft enough to fertilize the roses. If it is, I fertilize with a pest repelling rose food that will feed the fast growing, hungry shoots. One year, I was too slow in doing this task and discovered pests already partying in the malformed rosebuds. I had to lop off an entire branch that year.
The “First 100 days plan” in a career is like the first fertilizer application to a prize winning rose. It is part of the work of spring.