The wisdom of the Tao, like the wisdom of Ecclesiastes, affirms that "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven."
Each season has its own form of beauty. Spring brings delicate plum blossoms. Summer bursts forth with profusions of orchids. Autumn is graced with golden chrysanthemums, and winter brings the strength and serenity of bamboo.
The Tao Te Ching says:
Tao leaders live close to nature.
Their actions flow from the heart.
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 8
In the wisdom of Tao, the wisdom of nature, every project, every week, every day, has its four seasons: a time to plant and a time to grow, a time to harvest and a time to contemplate. Wisdom means being mindful of the seasons. It is folly to ignore them.
Seeing these patterns in the work week, a Tao leader realizes that Monday mornings and Friday afternoons are not the best times to call a busy office. On Monday mornings, people are too busy getting started with the week, and on Friday afternoons, they're too busy trying to wrap up their work and leave.
As a department chair, it took me a while to learn this lesson. I used to schedule staff meetings with my administrative assistants the first thing Monday morning. But on busy Mondays, these meetings were often cancelled or postponed. Realizing that Mondays are not the best times for long-range planning, I began holding staff meetings near the end of the week when things slow down. An hour after lunch on Thursday became a much better time for reflection and planning.
How can you use wisdom of the seasons in your life?
An earlier version of this lesson appeared in Dreher, D. (1996). The Tao of Personal Leadership. New York, NY: HarperCollins.