Category Archives: Summer

Ready Or Not?

Harvest Ready Fruit
Harvest Ready Fruit

Each kind of fruit has its own harvest-ready days in this season and many, noticeably,come to full readiness beginning mid-summer. Consider the “delicious time” of a career. Early harvest is a fortuitous time to stop and carefully examine the earliest produce of the first 30-60 days of a new job. For many employers, this is a “trial” period. Predictably, any kind of trouble in these days could mean loss of an entire harvest later.

Employers expect certain kinds and quality of results and development in workers within a specific time frame. Employees expect certain kinds and qualities of satisfaction and advancement in a specific time frame. There do exist situations in which the sampling of a worker’s produce is done way too early. Certain results/professional development need longer times. However, especially for workers in the lower tiers of the workplace terrace, the expert eye of a supervisor is often on-point.

As has been mentioned before there are expectations (new hire may or may not be told) already in place to be met. The 30-60-90 day plan from the employer’s viewpoint is intended to predict a potentially outstanding harvest or a productivity disaster (costs the company lost time and financial gain).

  • Employers want to know as early as possible whether or not to continue investing time and expertise (care, attention and fertilizer) in developing an employee.
  • Employees want to know as early as possible whether or not the workplace soil (opportunity for growth and learning) will support ongoing development.

Hopefully, the employee knows how she/he will be judged and has before accepting the offer presented the employer with a “preview”–the 30-60-90 day plan–the seed packet illustration of what kind of bloom to expect. In the garden and in careers certain questions have to be answered.

Here are the questions: Does the late summer sample show a potentially good harvest or a poor one? Is this tree/flower/worker going to produce a prize winner or an average bloom?

Is the fruit ready or not?

Career Solstice: The Good Times

Midsummer's Eve
Midsummer’s Eve

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.

Summer Drunk

Gaia
Gaia

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.

O, That Summer Would Last A Year!

JFK rose
rose cultivar “JFK”

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.

AUTUMN’S WORK: TRANSITION

Autumn is my favorite time of year. Autumn is an artful stripper and I love the way she strides  boldly on to the seasonal stage with a glamorous dance. She titillates the senses with golden maple, then a tingling breeze. At last, she walks off with a flourish of crimson oak.

Of all the seasons of the year, autumn is the one whose core work is transition and most of it involves harvesting. Harvesting is losing, choosing, and stripping.  It’s the same way with these autumn days of my life: bold and honest; brutal and beautiful all at the same time. Consider that once upon a time I used  to prance down the street in my hip-hugger bell bottom jeans, turning all the heads, thinking to myself in Ebonics, “I cool! I cool, y’all”. I am harvesting the results of the spring and summertime of my life these days. In my tailored power suit, I  stop by the pharmacy and search the shelves with my short-sighted eyes for a product called, “icool”. I am losing the favor of a society that prefers youth and beauty. I am choosing to ignore that preference and to strip my life of the idea that anything in Forever 21 will fit.

I am harvesting–taking in and examining–all the fruit of the ideas that grew in my thought garden to see what I will preserve, take cuttings or seed from and what I will compost. The idea that I have intrinsic worth apart from and exclusive of my net worth gets preserved by the gallon. The idea of tagging myself “damaged goods” because I do not meet all the “must have’s” on a job description gets bagged for the curb. Autumn is such an awesome season so full of creative chaos that it has to be the earth’s studio where she makes the beauty of the rest of the year.