Jun 1, 2024

How to Lead in Any Season of Life

A preschooler pushing the tiny helper cart into my heels, a newborn fussing in the pumpkin seat, and 1st and Kindergarten boys like rolly-polly puppies in the Trader Joe’s cereal aisle, a woman walked up to me and cooed, “Enjoy this season! You’re going to miss it.”

I wanted to scream and throw a slimy board book in her well-meaning face. (I wish this were hyperbole.)

When I was a young mom, people were forever saying this to me. I’m sure you’ve heard this too: 

  • To emerging leaders, enjoy this season. It gets really hard when you move up.
  • To young associates, enjoy this season. You just have to show up and don’t have to worry about anyone else!
  • To college students, enjoy this season. Your real work starts when you graduate.
  • To high school students, enjoy this season. In college, you have to know what you’re doing.
  • To middle schoolers… Never mind. No one says that to middle schoolers. (Except I loved middle school. So much fun! I know, I’m odd.)

Heard (or said) any of these before? 

So what do we do something so tempestuous as a season? And does a season help us create any joy at work?

Begrudgingly, I’ve learned that when I acknowledge the seasons, I’m more effective as a leader. Let’s talk about why. We’re going to take two lessons from the wisdom of the concept of seasons and leave behind the dregs that leave us all feeling frustrated at best.


One organization I consulted for called December through March the “soy storm” because multiple large events occurred in the agricultural industry. Soybean fields are dormant, so it’s easier for farmers to leave their operations. 

Ask any accountant how they’re doing in early April, and you’ll likely hear, “Uh. Busy.” 

Ask someone for a meeting on December 23, and you’ll likely hear, “Can this be a January problem?”

And that’s just the work cadence. Right now, most families with children are either in full-on summer break or within a few short weeks of that season. 

There are times of increased productivity and times of rest. When you misread the season you’re in, you have unreasonable expectations of your limits and the limits of your team.


In Australia, December is 78ºF, and March announces the arrival of autumn. In Mozambique, there is the rainy season and the dry season. A seasoned leader with teenagers is in a different season than an emerging leader with toddlers. 

US work culture sells the idea that 110% effort at all times from every worker is how to succeed. As I’m working on my upcoming leadership book, I keep finding research that contradicts this idea. The most significant number: 85% effort is the sweet spot.

That 85% varies from person to person, and it’s an average over time. One day, it might be 100% (I refuse to give 110%. It’s literally not possible.) Other days, it might be 62%. And this is true for each person on your team based on their experience, skills, and capacity at the moment.
As a leader, acknowledging this variation of effort, abilities, and skills will actually increase your overall productivity. Mostly because you are using the actual resources available to you, and treating others as the whole humans they are (instead of just pieces of machinery.)

That preschooler in Trader Joe’s just graduated from high school, and the newborn celebrated leaving 8th grade. One of the rolly-polly boys is about to graduate from college, and the other is headed to New Zealand to study abroad. I’m a CEO running a speaking and consulting business helping leaders like you. We are in a new season.

I miss the moments when smiles came easy with a zerbert on the belly. I, in no way, miss bathing three children in a tub and someone poops. 

When some helpful soul says, “Oh, enjoy this season,” know it’s not all or nothing. It’s a wise and effective leader to recognize the season you’re in, the one your team members are in, and your organzation. You now have the freedom to enjoy the successes and adventures of your current time and place. Which brings that joy we all want at work.

I’d love to hear from you: What season are you in?


  1. […] we talked about knowing the season you’re in. There are times of productivity and rest. Now, let’s identify what rest is (and isn’t), what […]


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