The Seasons of your #Career

As we begin to feel the beginning changes of autumn in the air here in the mid-south, it made me think of the many parallels between the seasons of our year and the seasons we all go through in our career.  I will spend a little time today drawing analogies between the two, but this will not be an exhaustive expose’ on the subject.  I do believe that you will see some interesting trends and transitions between the two.

Stephen Covey best captured, at least for me, some of the best analogies for building your career.  In his highly acclaimed book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” he talked about the concept he called the “law of the farm”.  In the law of the farm he so eloquently describes how it takes time for certain events to occur and he uses the subject of sowing seed and farming to capture this.  So often in our lives we like things to happen instantaneously, sort of like planting Rye Grass and expecting an immediate result or harvest.  Covey describes how many of us cram for tests or examinations in college.  While this may satisfy the short term need to acquire knowledge for a given period, it does little to prepare us for the longer-term rigors or demands that our lives and careers will experience.

Rather than start with Spring, I’ll start with Winter.  Believe it or not, but Winter is a critical time for preparing for the harvest.  It is during the winter that we do a lot of our planning and strategizing work, both on the farm and in our careers.  Some would compare the Winter with a barren and slow time in the career and that may be partly true.  I would say that during this times we should be working the hardest.  We have the most control of our own time during the winter because we are not driven by the needs of the weather and the crops as we would be I the Spring, Summer and Autumn.  Using your winter (you may have several) wisely is a good way to maximize your harvest come the following Autumn.

If Winter goes well there will be a Spring.  Spring is best described as a time of transition and new growth.  We see many colorful things during the spring, but this time is only maximized if we use the Winter wisely.  When our career begins to sprout through a new job or a promotion or even a new career direction it is largely the result of the planning and strategy set in the previous winter.  As we all know, Spring follows Winter and not the opposite.  It is hard, if not impossible to undo in spring what has been set in motion during the winter.

Summer is the time of growth, maturity and the transition time to harvest.  During Summer we experience the balance of the growing season, both for crops and for jobs and careers.  Jobs and careers need pruning, trimming, watering and fertilization to be kept alive, just like crops do.  This can result from feedback, training, job enlargement, job enrichment or many other things we all see or hear of in the workplace.  Again, the right planning and strategy in the winter will insure that you have the right things in place when the growing season arrives.

Autumn begins the harvest time and this is one of the most critical times for career growth and transition.  We are all familiar with crop harvesting when we drive by the fields in an agricultural area and we have the same type of thing occurring when we have a “career harvest”.  Career Harvest can include things such as a promotion, more job growth through enlargement or enrichment or it could be in the opposite direction.  If drought occurred during the growing season we may see a harvest that is plowed under or sold off as feed rather than harvested for its greatest usage.  As I have said eelier so many times, the work done in the Winter really has a large influence in what happens in every season afterward.  Floods may also occur, something that may be impossible to predict, but something we always need to be prepared for.  There will not be time to fully develop this through today, but we always need to have more than one “career crop” in the field and we also need to have fields in various locations to plan for the worst should that flood occur.

After the Autumn wanes we return to winter again and the cycle may repeat itself.

There are two major differences I see between Growing seasons and Career Seasons:

  1. Growing Seasons are always sequential-Career Seasons may not always be sequential
  2. Some people go through many Career Seasons-Growing seasons happen every 365 days

I hope this metaphorical description of the comparison between Career Seasons and Growing Seasons has helped shed some light on how you might manage your own career.

I will work to more fully develop this concept and hope to write more about it here soon.

In the meantime, use your Winter wisely.