Seasons… of the Land, and of Business

I have had the privilege of hearing Seth Mattison speak at various industry conferences and have always come away from his presentations feeling inspired, energized, and motivated. Earlier this month, I had the opportunity of hearing him speak once again, in a more intimate setting over breakfast, and what I came away with was inspiration, energy, motivation – and calm and faith (in the process).

Having grown up in a farming family, Mattison spoke of the seasons of the land and drew parallels between the rhythm of farming and that of business. “When you are close to the land,” he reminded us, “you are close to the seasons of the world.” And “seasons,” he continued, “are relevant not only to farming, but also to business and to life.” As I remember working at my great-uncle’s farm harvesting corn when I was a young teenager, the connection between the cycles of the land and the cycles of business resonated particularly strongly with me.

“Winter is a season to rest, reflect, look back, and recharge.” Indeed, this is very much the symbolic of the months of December and January – months governed by analysis and planning.

“Spring is a season to plant and put seeds in the ground. Diligently, faithfully, every year.”

Summer is a season for monitoring growth and making adjustments to changing (weather or industry) conditions.

Fall is a season for harvesting, the season during which the year’s planning, planting, and labor yields fruit.

I have a love-hate relationship with January. I love the “newness” of it – a blank slate, the ability to start fresh. And I hate the “virgin-ness” of it – all (or most) of the business metrics I measure start back at 0. I don’t like 0s.

Mattison helped me understand that January can never be September, as that would just not be natural.

He helped me understand that I should love January (and winter) for what it offers, and work with the rhythm of nature, not against it.

He helped me understand that in business as in farming, there are many things we cannot control (the weather and the markets for example).

And finally, he helped me understand that while we must “surrender the outcome, we simultaneously must diligently work on the controllable.”

welcome September

September… Back to school the adult way

Growing up, I always loved the back to school time of year. It felt like a second chance at starting fresh, at resolutions and goals – almost like a second New Year. I loved purchasing school supplies, a paper agenda (the annual cycle was the school year back then), and planning for a great (school) year.

  • As an adult, I still love the arrival of September (including Vogue’s September issue, which to me signals the official end of summer), and have created some new rituals to welcome the fall, and the last four months of the calendar year.
  • A look at my year’s resolutions, and where I stand on what I said in January that I would focus on this year. After 8 months, have I held true to these guidelines? If not, do I need to shift where I spend my attention?
  • A list – I am as you know a lover of lists – of those key things I want to achieve before December 31st. Maximum 5 items, high-level and strategic, a mixture of personal and business.
  • A closet tune-up, including the addition of one item of clothing or accessory that will anchor my style for the coming season.
  • A week (usually the last week of August) during which I commit to quiet time spent outdoors, ideally in the early morning. 15 minutes spent watching the leaves slowly change colors, embracing nature’s way of ushering a new season in, enjoying the rhythm of this natural cycle.

Goodbye August, hello September!