Winter is a State of Mind

“Winter is at once a season of the natural world, a respite our bodies require, and a state of mind….” Katherine May

The winter solstice has just passed in my half of the world. 

For those living in the northern hemisphere, it’s the day when we tilt as far away from the sun as we will get during the year. We know that we are moving toward longer days now; the solstice symbolically marks the darkest, coldest season of the year. 

It’s ironic because the solstice isn’t the end of winter, but it’s the beginning

Winter is an important season of rest for the natural world, a time when less energy can be expended. It’s essential to many natural cycles which rely on the cold and/or dark to complete their work. But it can challenge us if we spend months yearning for summer.

I’m recommending Katherine May’s new book: Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, and a podcast episode of On Being, where Krista Tippett interviews May about the book.

“Wintering is a metaphor for those phases in our life when we feel frozen out or unable to take the next step, and that can come at any time, in any season, in any weather, that it has nothing to do with the physical cold.”

Covid has been a long winter. Many of us have been made to retreat into situations that feel unnatural to us—depriving us of resources that we formerly took for granted. Forcing us to be resourceful, take on tasks from home, educate our children, and cope with the inconveniences of shortages and supply line delays. For many, illness and loss have been part of the equation. 

May writes in Wintering: “Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives they lived in the summer…. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through. Wintering is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximizing scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency, and vanishing from sight; but that’s where the transformation occurs [italics added]. Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible.

“It’s a time for reflection and recuperation, for slow replenishment, for putting your house in order.”

Covid has been a step back, to use the personal disruption lexicon. 

The time has come to think about what’s next and to look forward to laying the groundwork for the future. Covid has transformed us, and we know it. We see the change in what is called the “Great Resignation.”

What if we thought of it as the “Great Aspiration”? After all, changed people feel driven to do new things. No wonder workers are leaving their jobs in droves. Winter is a state of mind, but so is spring.

How have you “wintered” during Covid? How do you feel changed? What do you feel driven to do?

How can you leverage that transformation into a new aspiration? 

Remember, bears emerge from hibernation, lean, mean, and hungry. We can do the same. We can be hungry for new opportunities, ready to hunt for new resources, and poised to attack a new S Curve.

One suggestion for something new: listen to our podcast episode with Scott Miller. 

He decided to step back from a comfortable CMO job at the leadership training company FranklinCovey when, in the words of Liz Wiseman, he realized he was an “accidental diminisher.” This examination of himself changed the course of his career, and he’s on a mission to help other S Curve jumpers do the same.

Miller “sees a mentor in everyone.” Who could you mentor in their new adventure? Who could mentor you, in yours? Miller offers excellent advice and insights. Don’t miss it.

Happy Holidays,

P.S. The start of a new year is the perfect opportunity to get serious about your growth as an individual or the growth of your team. On January 20, join me for a unique online gathering: Begin, Grow, Pivot, and Learn. Join Apolo Ohno, Pamay Bassey, Michael Bungay Stanier, and me for a 90-minute, interactive experience. You’ll leave with insights and tools to grow as you hope to in 2022. AND, if you pre-order a book, you will receive a free ticket to our online gathering. 

P.P.S. If you’ve already pre-ordered the book, just let me know!

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