As I draft this, it’s only the fourth of September, yet signs are appearing that fall is advancing. I walked the FSU campus this morning, observing evidence. The fire-bush at the base of my hill is signaling change:
An ornamental red maple likewise:
Whether viewing Nature’s seasonal rhythms or observing the enterprise we lead, always be alert for signs and signals of change. Some indicate harmless patterns. Others signal danger and proclaim issues that require attention, vigilance, and action. Know the difference, and respond accordingly.
I recall my first end-of-August in Fairbanks, Alaska. The summer had been dry compared to my Eastern temperate climate frame of reference. I learned later that Fairbanks summers are typically that dry. I attributed the yellowing aspen and white birch to drought. Two weeks later, hillsides of aspen and birch were a bright yellow — full fall coloration, which is normal for the second week of September. By the third week, the first snow fell. By early October, the winter snow pack began to build. The 65-degree-north latitude shoulder seasons are abbreviated. Winter arrives early, digs deep, and remains firmly in place through much of April. I should have done my homework. I should have anticipated. I do better now when in new places.
We should all prepare with fore-knowledge relevant to our lives, vocations, and avocations. Nature prepares unfailingly. The birch and aspen knew it was time to act as August waned. They had already translocated their nutrients from expiring leaves to their roots when the first freeze hit. As leaders, we cannot afford to be caught unaware when predictable adversity strikes. Nature’s lessons instruct that we follow her lead. Birch and aspen practices are hard-wired. Some of ours are as well, yet many lessons applicable to living, learning, serving, and leading we must derive from evidence available to us in books, manuals, and experience. Other people have previously made and recorded mistakes we must avoid. We learn from Nature and from those who have erred, as it seems, so we need not repeat.
Anticipate the seasons of your life and enterprise. Protect your essential nutrients from freezes, literal and symbolic. Nature teaches; we learn… and prosper.
Featured Image: Dogwood (Cornus Florida) already with red berries and leaves approaching fall color.