My walks with the dogs afford me some daily down-time and 30 minutes or so to clear the mental cobwebs – and sometimes, it is the source of new ideas from the most unlikely places.
A recent dogwalk took myself and the dogs down to the beach for some fun and frolic – cabin fever was setting in after a particularly rainy, stormy stretch, and the Shiba Inus needed a good play.
As soon as we reached the bottom of the stairs, I could see that the inclement weather had created an unusually high storm surge at high-tide, reaching right up to the base of the cliffs. We were the first beachgoers there after this unusually high tide, and it had completely transformed the beach! All the flotsam and jetsam, evidence of beach parties (both human and otter in origin), and the straggly bits of seaweed were washed away, and the sand all the way down the beach was pristine.
Like we were the first ones to discover a secret destination!
Now during the winter, these storm surges are somewhat regular occurrences, tides will reach a high point, and about once a year, there will be a huge tide, influenced by both the moon cycle and whatever might be going on weather-wise. The point being, this is part of the cycle of nature that so many of us don’t notice as we live our urban existences.
Here we go again!
It struck me that in our business and personal lives, we also experience similar natural cycles, but just don’t notice them as such because we are also out of tune with the cycles found in nature. The notion of the “business cycle” is a commonly referred to phenomenon in economics, but most small business owners are too focused on the day-to-day stresses to worry about the long-term. The notion of the “7 year itch” is part of our popular lexicon (and spoofed by Hollywood), but we seldom give ourselves slack in our personal relationships to roll with the ebbs and flows of our romantic lives.
Instead we expecting the months in the 10th year of our relationships to be exactly as exhilarating as the first! We also pay a lot of attention to circadian rhythms and sleep cycles, but forget about the intermediate, seasonal cycles that influence our lives. The more intentional we get about recognizing some of these seasonal rhythms, and the strategies we’ve used in the past, the better we will get at life – personally and professionally!
Tack right … or left
It also struck me that there are times in our personal and professional lives where we find ourselves at a high-tide, or storm-surge mark – where we weather difficult periods, and come out the other side with a fresh start – or a “do-over”. Think about it – in the world of startups, the concept of “pivoting” to react to market demands is perfectly acceptable; even encouraged! And there is a definite efficiency to recognizing where you are in the cycle and adjusting to change rather than beating your head against a brick wall. Ironically while we laud the agility of successful startups, when it comes to our own experiences we hold ourselves to the rigidity of the perfect 5-year plan and deem ourselves failures if the end result does not play out exactly as we viewed in our heads.
So, I encourage you to get in touch with the rhythms that permeate your life. Pay attention to repeating patterns – the ebbs and flows, and get to know when to take advantage of signals such as the storm-surge that tell us its time to change direction. (Just think, in 5 years, there are a total of 20 seasons – a lot of natural changes to take advantage of!)
Take a deep breath, and get your hands dirty
I firmly believe that one way to bring home an intuitive sense of those rhythms is to reacquaint ourselves with the rhythms of the natural world. If you live near a beach, make a regular visit to the shoreline. Take a walk by the river or lake, or get outside and take notice of what colour the leaves are, and in what sequence the flowers emerge in spring, and when the trees begin to bud.
Better yet, if you have a yard or access to land, get outside and grow some food. Its the ultimate way of getting in tune with nature’s rhythms. Not only will you reap the benefits (literally) of making your own food, but it is the ultimate exercise in rolling with whatever challenges arise. … like the ultimate high-tide mark, every growing season is a fresh start.
(Photo credit: high strong ocean waves with spray and surf via Shutterstock)