I’ve been thinking about fields lately.
As we’ve driven to visit my Mom, who lives down-state, the fields are full of sweet summer corn and lush soybeans.
But some of the fields lay bare.
Two+ years into the pandemic, we’re experiencing a labor crisis that continues to have ripple effects across our economy, including our farmers, food suppliers, and purchasers. In addition to rising inflation and fears of a recession.
We’re experiencing it as unsettling and exhausting . . . yet for some it’s been hopeful.
You see, what’s been dubbed as the Great Resignation, with people leaving jobs in droves, further adding to being unsettled. It hasn’t been all bad, some folks are even savoring life in ways they’d not thought possible.
Of course, Covid-19 caught everyone off guard, and has had tragic consequences in terms of life, health, and livelihood, but it’s also ushered in a new era – The Great Reflection – a long-awaited pause.
Working from home or in some hybrid configuration, we’ve had time – even if enforced – to reflect on what really matters most. Our insights have shifted up our personal rhythms and the relationship we have with work and our lives in general.
Many people have moved across country or dropped out of the workforce, only to resurface somewhere else. Others have gone back to school or taken on an entirely new career.
You may wonder, “What’s this got to do with bare fields?” Quite a bit.
I’m reminded of a piece from the New York Times, by author, Bonnie Tsui, who persuades her readers to engage in more fallow time.
When farmland is deliberately not used to raise a crop one season, and instead lays fallow, it allows the soil to rest and replenish nutrients. It’s an ancient practice, practiced over millennia.
While a fallow field may appear barren and unproductive, it’s actually very active – nutrients rise to the surface, moisture holding capacity is improved, and higher crop yields occur after planting.
So, for you to be more creative and fulfilled, you must rest and refuel more. In other words, lay fallow for a bit.
This is not a new concept. What I want to draw your attention to is that fallow activities such as reading, exploring a museum, and people-watching by the lake are, in fact, a form of engagement within your larger life cycle.
Right now, you may view yourself as either being on or off, productive or lazy, serving or selfish. It can feel very black and white. You may find yourself being harsh in judging yourself and others when engaged in so-called “fallow activities.”
Protecting and practicing fallow time often provokes resistance and a whole host of negative self-talk that sounds like, “I’m being lazy,” or “I’ll give in to ‘doing nothing’ and lose my edge,” or “There’s always so much to do, I can’t justify doing nothing.”
It’s during fallow times that we’re most likely to attune to what matters most and have insights for how we want to live and work. Insights come from—information, observation, and reflection.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Decide what matters the most.
- Realize that the best use of you, your purpose, is way bigger than any job or employer, and it involves living with intention.
- Bonnie Tsui shares wisdom from a friend, “Be open to the invitation to replenish yourself,” he said. “Say yes to the gift of no requirement.”
Being fallow is an act of resistance, out of step with what the prevailing culture tells us about productivity being a sign of our worth.
If taking fallow time, on purpose, enriches you and helps you to grow like that beautiful corn or those bushy soybeans – are you in?
What might change if you embraced a natural energy cycle of growing and resting?
Open yourself to the benefits of intentional renewal to create your most fertile, nourished life.
I challenge and support leaders to sharpen their focus, grow their resilience & improve their energy for exemplary results. In addition to private coaching sessions, Calm the Chaos for Busy Professionals, Are You Willing to Go First: Conversational Keys to Leadership Success, and From Stress Bombs to Resilience are three of my popular course offers.
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