In Belize a few of years ago, I was at a retreat with women who had obtained a certain level of professional success. A core part of the retreat consisted of short presentations by the member community, held on a beach under a palm tree hut.
One such presentation has stayed with me. It offered insight I had not yet stumbled upon in my career. It came from a woman who had successfully started, and sold, many businesses. She sat on elite Boards. She was the vision of confidence and success.
She began by pointing out that most of us were likely in a go-go-growth career stage. And then she said, "It won't always be like that, but that's okay. You will find that your career has seasons. It won't -- it can't -- always be all growth, all the time."
She told a story of selling a business, and then her husband falling on ill health. Her girlfriends tried to pry her out of the house with Martini's, and instructions to "Take some Valium and get on with it!" (You can guess her approximate age by that statement!) She did not however, and that was the point.
She said that Spring needs to be followed by Fall, and Winter, to get Spring again. She said it is important to "feel" these seasons as they happen and know that they are perfectly natural.
"Wow," I remember whispering to myself.
It makes so much sense, doesn't it? We're organic creatures. And yet, how is it possible that this isn't core wisdom in the world of work?
I suspect it is because we're all raised to continually move up, like rungs on a ladder. Be more. Get more. Better grades, better placement on the team. Promotions. Manager, leads to Director, which leads to Vice President, and onward, right?
Now that I'm almost half-way through my 40's, I see career pauses everywhere. (Fabulous women in the mom-zone are especially vulnerable.) And it seems everyone is always FREAKED out about it.
If you're in that boat, take a breath. You're a living creature. Things are always changing. You can get back on the race horse at any moment. But even race horses need a rest now and then.
------------------ Talk Back ------------------
I was inspired to share this story by my mom. She has been writing our family history lately, and took particular pride sharing a short story she wrote about her father. It was the "Great Depression,"and he was a Jukebox repairman. She wrote of her childhood with him, the twirly stools she sat on eating pastries in the "joints" he'd have to visit, and the rolls of coins he would give her. He was a king beyond words in her eyes.
She never once wrote of his life before the Depression. His full-length fur coats, his bachelor year of residence in the swankiest hotel in Boston. His thriving career as a stock broker.
No, she cherished what he must have thought of as his own winter deep freeze.
What's your Career Season story?
Was there a rainbow, following the storm?
Has your company supported career seasons?
Thanks for reading and engaging.