Winter isn’t bad…its just…Winter

I’ve been thinking for a while that this “economic downturn” is a long-overdue winter in our perpetual (illusion of) summer here in the USA. Eventually the over-picked, under-watered plants need to shut down and regenerate or they will die. This may sound depressing and cold in the sun-starved northern hemisphere, but in fact its a fundamental process that allows life to continue. Plants that are in relative harmony with their surroundings and weren’t already diseased will survive and thrive come spring.

The same is true for us as individuals and for the organizations we lead and are part of. Getting back to our roots, our core, focusing on the basics, and remaining in harmony with our surroundings are essential to surviving winter and preparing for new life in spring.

Late last week, I hosted a table discussion at a well-timed forum about leading in an economic downturn put on by United Way of King County. Jon Fine, the CEO of the United Way here in Puget Sound, suggested some important strategies for nonprofits to weather winter, which I thought could be applied to us as individuals as well. Here is my synopsis of his most useful points:

  • Don’t be in denial about it being winter – plan, prepare and dress warmly!
  • Remember and focus on your core – what do you do well and differently than anyone else?
  • Be transparent and honest. In winter, everything is visible to everyone else. We can more easily see your tracks, and are more attuned to each other because we need each other more.
  • Conserve your energy for what’s really important. Don’t chase or create non-essential projects or new markets right now.
  • Be efficient! Do what you need to do with as little effort and expense as you can, but do it well!
  • Let go of what isn’t working so you can focus on what is working. There’s no shame in letting go!

And finally, don’t forget to be grateful for the many blessings you do have and ENJOY what there is to enjoy about winter!

Warmth and peace to you and those you love.

Do you have a stroller?

Some close friends recently had a second child. Their first, the lovely and rather precocious Clara Jill–yes, named after me 🙂 –is six and a half, and was somewhat apprehensive about the arrival of competition.

When I went over to their home for the first time after little August came home, Clara was ensconced in her baby brother’s stroller and had pulled several of his blankets over her head. She was making baby noises and didn’t want to come out even for home-made macaroni and cheese, normally her favorite. Her exhausted parents smiled indulgently and whispered that Clara had “regressed” a little bit lately.

Regression or not, I found myself thinking what a rational response Clara was having to this new challenge, and it made me wonder, don’t we all need a stroller sometimes?

On better days, I think my stroller is petting or playing with my dog. On not so good days, my stroller is more likely to be getting cranky or eating too much chocolate.

Do you let yourself have a stroller? If so, when do you let yourself crawl into it? What does it look like, feel like? Does it help you cope with overwhelm? I think the ideal stroller does not come with side effects, or produce a hangover. What about yours?