“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes” – Scandinavian maxim
Life is going to happen to all of us at some point. Life is not a bed of roses; it is a roller coaster of challenges, changes, life-defining moments: sometimes you are up, and other times you are down. Whatever would go wrong would eventually go wrong (Murphy’s Law). It is easy to be optimistic and upbeat when things are going right; the real test is how you would handle the trying times. As British writer Vivian Greene once noted, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. – Martin Luther King
In life, you are either coming out of a storm, heading into a storm, or going through a storm. The key to weathering the storm is to understand that the storm is a season of life. As the bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: “To everything, there is a season, A time for every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, And a time to die”. A time to sow and a time to reap. There is a reason for every season.
The Changing Seasons
A season is a division of the year based on changes in weather, ecology, and the number of daylight hours in a given region. In temperate and sub-polar regions, four seasons based on the Gregorian calendar are generally recognized: spring, summer, autumn or fall, and winter. The Seasons of nature are constantly changing, and our personal seasons also change constantly. You cannot change the seasons, but you can change yourself and your outlook on the changing seasons.
Our life is like the changing seasons of life:
- Season of Spring – Window of opportunities, New Beginnings, Planting, Hope
- Season of Summer – A time to nuture and protect, lots of distractions, growth signs
- Season of Fall – Achievements, successes, wins
- Season of Winter – heartbreaks, loneliness, despair, sickness, sadness
I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its leaves are a little yellow, its tone mellower, its colours richer, and it is tinged a little with sorrow and a premonition of death. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor of the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and is content. – Lin Yutang
Jim Rohn – Seasons of Life
In one of his most influential speeches (The Four major lessons in life to learn) and book titled: The Season of Life, author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn highlight the parallel between life and the changing seasons. The Seasons of Life is based on the parable of the sower and the reaper: “What you sow is what you reap.”
You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself.
In his book, the seasons of life, author Jim Rohn writes:
For all of us, the only constant factor in life is our feelings and attitudes toward life. A major challenge faced by us all is that we learn to experience the changing of life’s cycles without being changed by them. To make a constant and conscious effort to improve ourselves in the face of changing circumstances is to assure a tolerance for the winters of life’s events and to permit ourselves the full enjoyment of the blessings of life’s harvest come the autumn.
Seize the Springtime
Springtime – The time to take advantage of the opportunity, friendship, love, ideas
It is the season for entering the fertile fields of life with seed, knowledge, commitment, and a determined effort. It is not a time to linger nor to ponder the possibility of failure. Foolish is the one who would allow springtime to pass while dwelling upon the memory of the successful crop of last fall, or the failure to reap last fall in spite of the massive efforts last spring.
It is a natural characteristic of springtime to present itself ever so briefly, or to lull us into inactivity with its bounteous beauty. Do not pause too long to soak in the aroma of the blossoming flowers, lest you awaken to find springtime gone with your seed still in your sack. Spring does not care if you sow or sleep, nor does it care if you plant abundantly or meagerly. It does not care if you plant the fertile kernel of wheat or useless weed-seeds.
“Springtime merely says, “Here I am!” Springtime sends its life, and its warmth. Its sends us constant messages of its arrival—the robin, the squirrels, the return of the swallows, and the berries of the field for those whose own storehouses are empty.”
Seize the infrequent opportunity to do nothing for a change, or something for a change; force yourself to turn off the television, and embrace the opportunity for having family conversation—or even silence. Opportunity surrounds us all, appearing and disappearing just as fast, leaving behind fond memories to those who responded to its appearance or regret to those who were then too busy to bother
Summertime – a time to protect and nurture
The summer of life is a time to protect; it is a time for constant daily effort to guard against the busy bugs and the noxious weeds. The spring is a time for the creation of things of value, and those things require the season of summer for growing and gaining strength that they might yield their result in the coming fall. The end of spring cannot bring an end of human effort—one effort ends and another remains yet to begin. When effort ceases, when neglect makes its haunting appearance, growth gives way to stagnation and decay. The bugs and weeds of life exist to test the human will to succeed, and the human worthiness for life’s rich rewards.
Success in life is not an easy matter, nor is it an easy matter for the seed to push away the soil in its quest to find the light and the airborne chemicals that give it health. Progress in any form and happiness or success in any form requires constant effort, for obstacles exist that might discourage the weak and the undeserving.
Overcome one obstacle in life, and another appears to fill the void. Life is designed to be a story of achievement in spite of adversity, not in the absence of adversity, for without adversity achievement could not exist.
Do not blame the problems and challenges of life for your humbling circumstances. Does the seed complain because of the rocks it must grow over, under, around, or through? Would any worthy life exist on earth if all life were to surrender when first confronted by difficulty?
The only automatic thing in life is weeds and bugs. They need not be planted, nor cared for. Their existence is assumed in that they feed and survive on the good efforts of the industrious.
The constant, unrelenting pull of life is downward—giving cause for disappointment, despair, and discouragement. There shall always because to give up; there shall always be cause for complaint, but engage in complaining and you add to the downward pull of life.
“It is written that as you sow, so shall you reap, but only when you combine the efforts of sowing with the mental effort of believing, and the physical effort of constant attention to those things of value. Smile at adversity, for it shall surely appear. Be grateful for adversity, for it forces the human spirit to grow, for surely, the human character is formed not the in absence of difficulty but in our response to difficulty.”
Fall is a time for exultation as well as a time for searching of the conscience. For those who planted abundantly in the spring, and who fought against the bugs, weeds, and weather of summer, fall can bring rewards, which give cause for rejoicing.
For those who watched both the arrival and departure of spring, and who made little effort to take advantage of its almost momentary tenure, fall can be a time of turmoil, a time of anxiety, and a time of great regret. It is in the fall when we discover how long or short the winter will be. The fall tells us if we have really done that which is required, or if we have fooled ourselves through the temporary anesthetic of conversation and pretense… of telling ourselves we’ve worked when we haven’t.
In the fall, we either enjoy, or we excuse. For those who failed to take full advantage of the spring, who failed to guard their crops carefully throughout the heat of summer, there can be no legitimate reasons… only excuses and excuses are merely apologetic attempts to place blame on circumstances rather than on ourselves.
The fall tells us if we have really done that which is required, or if we have fooled ourselves through the temporary anesthetic of conversation and pretense… of telling ourselves we’ve worked when we haven’t.
Winter, like spring, is a season which can make its brief appearance during any season, as a brief reminder of its ultimate power. In mid-summer while we consciously tend our carefully planted crops, winter can momentarily descend upon us as if threatening to take away the fruits of our efforts.
Winter can make its threatening appearance during the season of opportunity—the spring—and if we do not quickly respond to cancel its potentially devastating effect, the season of opportunity will be taken from us by one of the storms of life, leaving us with yet another full year of waiting. Winter can prematurely appear during the season of harvest—the fall—just as we are about to reap the rewards of expended human effort, and leave us with crops—or results—which are of little value.
The first great lesson of life to learn is that winter will always come; not only in the winter of cold, and wind, and ice, and snow, but the human winters of despair and loneliness, or disappointment, or tragedy. It is winter when prayers go unanswered, or when the acts of our children leave us shaken and stunned. It is winter when the economy turns against us, or when creditors come after us. It is winter when competition threatens, or when a friend takes advantage. Winter comes in many forms, and at any time, both to the planter of crops as well as to the person in business, or even to our personal lives.
Winter can make its threatening appearance during the season of opportunity—the spring—and if we do not quickly respond to cancel its potentially devastating effect, the season of opportunity will be taken from us by one of the storms of life, leaving us with yet another full year of waiting.
Author John C. Maxwell writes in his book: “Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation for Successful Leadership“:
The decades of life are not the same for everyone. We all know that. And there are both positives and negatives to every age. For example, when we’re young, we have tremendous energy, but we don’t know what to do with it; when we’re old, we know what to do, but our bodies wear out and our energy starts to flag. You can look at the decades of a leader’s life and make some generalizations about them:
- Twenties—Alignment: We build our foundation and prepare for future success.
- Thirties—Adjustment: We try different things and find out what works and what doesn’t.
- Forties—Advancement: We focus on our strength zone and make the most of what works.
- Fifties—Assessment: We reevaluate our priorities and hopefully shift from success to significance.
- Sixties—Ascendance: We reach the top of our game and the height of our influence.
When we’re young, we have tremendous energy, but we don’t know what to do with it; when we’re old, we know what to do, but our bodies wear out and our energy starts to flag.
As leaders, we have seasons that aren’t equal in length, unlike farmers. And we usually experience only one cycle in our lifetime, not cycles continually repeated annually. But we can still learn a lot from some of the truths farmers understand.
For example, every season has a beginning and an end. Our lives are not static. Even if a person chooses not to grow, life does not remain the same. (People who refuse to grow professionally, decline.) While we are in a season of life, we should do all we can. Too often people give less than their best, thinking they can make it up later. What they don’t understand is that once a season has ended, they often can’t go back. They don’t get another chance. When the new season comes, we need to be ready to make the appropriate changes to move on to it.
Another truth is that the seasons always come in sequence. Spring always follows winter. Autumn always comes after summer. We have no control over the order in which the earth’s seasons occur. The same is true of the seasons of success. You cannot harvest life’s rewards without first planting seeds.
Many people fail because they are out of sync with time and place in their seasons of life. Sometimes their failure has nothing to do with determination or willingness, but comes from their efforts being out of proper sequence.
Winter Is the Season for Planning
To people who don’t understand success and the seasons of life, winter is a bleak time. The ground is cold. The earth is unproductive. The trees are bare and seem lifeless. For unsuccessful people winter is a time of hibernation, drudgery, and low expectations. For successful people, winter is a time of beginnings. This is the time for vision and dreams. It is a time of anticipation. Goals are set and plans are made during winter, and without them, the chance of a successful harvest is slim.
Spring Is the Season for Planting
People who don’t understand the seasons of life get spring fever. They continue to daydream when they need to be working. Successful people have spring fervor. They understand that spring is the time to take winter plans and ideas and put them into action. It’s a time for enthusiastic activity—getting the seeds, preparing the soil, and planting. It takes energy. It takes perseverance. It takes sacrifice. And it takes good timing.”
Summer Is the Season for Perspiration
When you mention summer to most people, they think of vacation. It’s the time when children are out of school, and adults try to take time off. That’s not true for a farmer, nor is it for a successful person. To them summer is the time for cultivation. If you neglect in summer what you planted in spring, you will see no harvest in autumn. For the successful person, summer is the time for continual and regular cultivation, watering, and fertilization. It is a time of great growth.
Autumn Is the Season for Produce
To people who haven’t understood the seasons and who neglected to plan in winter, plant in spring, and perspire in summer, autumn brings regret. Just as watching trees lose their leaves can bring some people feelings of loss, some people realize only when it’s too late that they should have made hay while the sun shone. However, to successful people who have made the most of each season, autumn is a time of reaping. It is the time when they receive the products of their labor. It brings feelings of accomplishment. There is no better season of life.
Your ultimate goal as a leader should be to work hard enough and strategically enough that you have more than enough to give and share with others.
Nothing lasts forever, everything in its time, place, and season. There is a reason for every season, people come into your path for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. The key to everlasting happiness and success is to understand and know the seasons of life you are in and the reason for that season. Every season has got its use/function – every event, crisis, relationship, condition, situation, dilemma, vicissitude(s) is here for a reason. You just need to get the message from every mess, testimony from every test, every wall is a door, no condition is permanent.
As Rapper Lil Wayne rhymed in one of my favorite rap lines – Mr. Carter:
Got Spring hatin’ on me ’cause I ain’t never sprung
Winter hatin’ on me ’cause I’m colder than y’all
And I will never, I will never, I will never fall
I’m being hated by the seasons
So f*** y’all who hatin’ for no reason
Success is the best revenge. The tough times are not here to stay, it is a season of life. This too shall pass, you’ve got this.
All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.