To Everything There is a Season #8
By Graham Bell
A time to be born and a time to die
A time to mourn and a time to dance
A time to hold and a time to let go
Last month we buried my Mum in Glen Nevis. It was a grey Scottish autumn day and the wind was howling through the Glen, on up to Steall Falls. She had reached 90 and, she said, had lived a good and healthy life so had nothing to complain about.
These times push us towards deep personal reflection, about who we are and how we became what we are. I mulled on the words of the business writer Tom Peters who said he had won the ‘ovarian lottery’ so how could he claim great credit for what he had done in his life. I knew that I too was one of these ‘winners’, perhaps making my loss feel all the more stark.
As you know Lesley and I take turns to write the blog. We deliberately want to give you an insight into leadership and into us. Not because we are anything special, but because we too have slogged the leadership journey. And we know that what is happening to us in our own lives impact on how we live and lead.
So last month was one of great contrasts for us. As I was mourning the death of my Mum, Lesley was celebrating the birth of her first grandchild - a healthy bouncing baby boy. She described being almost overwhelmed by the strength of her feelings for this new little life. And like the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes we knew that to everything there is a season, a time to be born and a time to die.
Discipline and Routine
When we work with and lead others, they are all at different seasons in their lives. It is too easy to believe that everyone feels like us. Being sensitive to where others are is a key attribute of a good leader. But it is also the knowledge that there are ‘seasons of the soul’ that help us lead, and encourage others to keep moving forward. Work provides the discipline of routine and continuity of activity to help us keep moving through these seasons.
My Mum was driving up until just weeks before her condition worsened. One of her favourite journeys was the road from Fort William to Oban, along Loch Linnhe, passing Castle Stalker. It is beside the Shian Road from Appin. Isla St Clair beautifully sings the eponymous Ian McCalman song. I have edited a few of the words to finish.
Remember when the days burned long and bright
But now the night is falling and by its fading light
So hard the leaving
So hard the leaving the hills and the glen
So strong the feeling
So strong the feeling she'll never return again
Life and death are one thread - the same line viewed from different sides.
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