I have found myself pondering the seasons lately and thinking about what nature has to teach us with these annual shifts. I love the fall, but I know many others don’t favor this particular time of year. I’ve heard some think of autumn as a time of death and decay, a sad season when the days become shorter and the trees drop their green leaves to become bare. I personally love the colors, the crisp, cool air, the crunch of the leaves beneath my feet. As I have considered these different feelings about fall, I have thought more about what autumn represents, what each season might illustrate, and what we might learn from the natural progression of the changing seasons.
As I’ve been observing the colors changing here in the Pacific Northwest and have reminisced about the change of colors I’ve witnessed in other places I’ve lived – Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey – I’ve been realizing the beauty that comes from the diversity of shades and hues produced by different trees and appreciating this diversity of how and when trees change colors. I have searched through images of autumn, and I have not only seen vibrant and diverse colors, but I have also seen images of bright colors of deciduous trees against the backdrop of a forest of evergreens, or a pop of gold in the midst of a forest of deep green. These images have also been a powerful point of reflection, seeing the beauty and strength of one that dares to stand out. I have found encouragement in this display of nature, and a call to action to dare to be different, unique, and confident in myself, and to appreciate and embrace the diversity and beauty of others that surround me.
I’ve been contemplating the seasons of my own life and have noticed as I get older, I am more comfortable owning who I am, letting my authentic self, my true colors show, and letting the inauthentic parts of me fall away much as a tree sheds its leaves in autumn. I have been on a journey of refining and becoming my best self, getting more and more comfortable with who I am and how I show up. In the spring, trees bud and bloom, again a sea of color, the trees put forth their beauty. Summer comes and trees are green, perhaps different shades, but deciduous and evergreen are connected in their shared green hue.
As I think of human nature, I think about how we all start out connected to our inner light, lacking the ability to be anything but ourselves, bold and beautiful in our unique bloom. As we mature, we learn to blend like the trees of summer, we put on our green leaves. Our branches are covered, we blend and learn to be part of the masses. Then fall comes and we have an opportunity to show our colors, to show all that we have learned and experienced, and to put forth of all that we’ve grown, but also to let go of all that does not serve us, all that has been placed upon us. We have the opportunity to share the beauty of our lives in a display of our diverse experiences and a chance to shed that which hides our authentic beauty. While we may liken the seasons of nature to the ebb and flow of life, these seasons come and go throughout the course of the year and give us a unique opportunity to observe winter, a time of hibernation and reflection, restoration and quiet, before we bloom again in the spring.
With these reflections on autumn, I challenge you to reflect upon this season with new eyes and to take the opportunity to assess your own internal beauty as well as the aspects of the world that have been given or put upon you that you might wish to shed. Use this season as an opportunity to let go of beliefs and ways of being that are holding you back, that are not serving you in your quest to be and become your authentic self. Allow your experiences to give you the courage to be you. Who are you and who do you want to be? How do you want to show up? What colors are your authentic leaves? What do you need to shed and let go of this season to become who you were meant to be? What is keeping you from standing out and how might you become truer to yourself? What keeps you from seeing and appreciating the diversity and beauty that surrounds you? For those of you who like me, love the fall, what do you love about this season? How might you find a greater appreciation for autumn?
Quote(s) I am sitting with, pondering and finding inspiration in:
“Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.”
~ Winston Churchill ~
“Courage is the commitment to begin without any guarantee of success.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ~
Podcast I’m Listening to:
The Tim Ferris Show, Episode 357: Susan Cain – How to Overcome Fear and Embrace Creativity
“So often, when you see someone who’s really good at almost anything, it’s because they actually start out exactly the opposite – and then they cared so much about fixing that problem.”
Susan Cain is the author of the bestsellers Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverted Kids, and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, the latter of which has been translated into more than 40 languages. Quiet is in its seventh year on The New York Times Best Sellers list, and it was named the best book for the year by Fast Company magazine, which also named Susan one of its Most Creative People in Business.
She is the Chief Revolutionary of Quiet Revolution, and her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. Her record-smashing TED talk has been viewed more than 20 million times and was named by Bill Gates as one of his all-time favorite talks.
Book I am Reading and Reflecting Upon:
Emotional Intelligence and Stress-Free Leadership: Turn Emotional Pain into Performance Gain with the TENOR Method
by Charles M. Jones & Jim Knickerbocker, Ph.D.
This is a very practical approach to emotions in the workplace and offers some straight-forward guidance to understanding what lies beneath the emotions we feel, how our experiences connect to our emotions and how emotions connect most directly to providing information about what needs aren’t being met. The authors also offer practical advice and their method to use emotions to fuel success.
What Amazon has to say:
In a world where change is accelerating and competition is intensifying, leaders must be able to meet challenges and adversity with composure and resourcefulness — while keeping their people engaged and aligned. To do this, emotional intelligence (EI) is a must. The idea that EI is the foundation of effective leadership is not new. What is new is the existence of a reliable method for systematically increasing EI.
Building on recent discoveries in the fields of cognitive psychology and neuroscience, and tested with nearly a thousand people, the authors lay out a straightforward approach to developing EI. In contrast to other books on EI that view emotions as irrational drivers of reactive behavior, this book demonstrates that all emotions contain valuable guidance on how to improve your performance. The authors provide the equivalent of “emotion-decoder rings” that show you how to exploit frustration to achieve goals, anxiety to mitigate risks, and other common workplace emotions that drive business performance.
Stress, the authors’ show, is not caused by what’s happening in the world nor by your own emotions. Stress is caused by fighting against your emotions instead of working with them to improve your performance. The authors back this up by showing that stress results from tolerating tension, reactivity, negativity, powerlessness, and reluctance — and that these five killers of effective leadership are all signs that you are fighting against your own emotions.
Then how do you work with your emotions? Learn TENOR, a proven 5-step method that will help you:
- Go from feeling stressed to being grounded, composed, accountable, resourceful, and committed.
- Translate your painful emotions into performance data —and use this vital data to systematically improve how you perform.
- Apply these techniques to reducing stress and improving performance in those around you.
Please check out my latest blog post series on Lessons from the Run, Part 1: Mile 18 – Endurance, and Lessons from the Run, Part 2: Resilience, and finally the newest addition Lessons of the Run, Part 3: Rest. Stay tuned for my upcoming blog post on My Vision: The Power of EQ to Create Change! If you missed my September edition of Three Thoughts for Thursday, you can find it here, on my blog as well. As always, thank you for your continued support and readership! Stay strong, stay brave, stay true to you!