Each new breath and moment is a gift. We can choose to start with a
clean slate in the here and now.
― Kaleb Kilton
Each season brings with it its own intention, purpose, and beauty. Fall has always been mysterious to me. The incredible display of colors always amazes me. I used to live near a beautiful woodsy park called Frick Park. It was donated to the city of Pittsburgh (USA) around 100 years ago by Henry Frick, a wealthy steel baron and former associate of Andrew Carnegie. The park was small, but in the fall the leaves opened up into multi-colored sections of yellow, orange, and red passages.
In the fall, we prepare for change as the foliage changes and the weather cools down. We prepare for darker days, and some of us start to nest as nature encourages us to turn inward, to hibernate., Most of us ignore this call and keep going, sometimes at a faster pace, to make sure we get it all done by the end of the year.
I have been living in Israel for the past five years and each year I look forward to celebrating Rosh HaShana. It is usually celebrated in September, right at the start of fall. I am not Jewish but I always felt an emotional connection to this holiday. It makes sense to me to celebrate the beginning of the new year in the fall rather than in the dark winter when we are supposed to turn inward.
Rosh Hashana has an intriguing aspect. According to Jewish tradition, one is able to have a “do-over” if one takes responsibility for one’s misdeeds. Yes, you heard me, a do-over. Meaning if you made mistakes, and we all make many mistakes each day, you can repent and swipe the slate clean. Start over. Every year. Think about all of the implications this can have if adapted into our personal and professional lives.
As an executive coach, I have conducted 360 employee feedback evaluations for nearly two decades. My company developed its own 360 form, and I have done hundreds of de-briefing sessions with employees from every industry and level. Long-term employees shared with me their pre-anxiety and worries about the results. Managers hate to do employee evaluations since they don’t like giving negative feedback or/hurt peoples’ feelings. I have coached clients on the right way to deliver feedback, coached people on how to receive feedback, and yet, it remains something many people are not comfortable with regardless of where they sit. And trust me when I say there are virtually no do-overs in the corporate world.
When I introduce the concept of a do-over to the manager giving or receiving feedback all stress disappears, and ease and grace enter into the conversation. I feel relaxed because I understand that no matter the outcome, I am able to have a do-over. I can take another stab at my job or tasks, and nobody will remind me of my past. People will see me with fresh eyes and fully support me. What a relief.
As children, we had lots of do-overs. For example, I remember when my son learned to walk, and later when we toilet trained him. I was told I could say many things but never tell him he was wrong when he fell or had an accident. I was to encourage him to continue and try again. As parents, we understood that it worked better if we gave him as many do-overs as he needed to succeed.
As we grow older we are not so generous. The do-overs recede and we are left with, the expectation to be perfect, the need to get it right, and right away. There is little flexibility. We need to stay in control, avoid the feedback, and keep our eyes on the prize. Of course, each culture has its own slight variation, but generally speaking, this is true for all Western cultures. We must make progress at all costs, quickly.
I have been in Germany for the past two weeks, mainly to take care of my health, but also to connect with family. One of my intentions in coming to Germany has been to reconnect with my mother and create a harmonious and loving relationship. My mother has not been so easy to be with in the past few years. She was angry with me. I didn’t understand her anger, but when I took some time for personal reflection, it became obvious to me. Over the course of my life, there have been many times when I didn’t behave so nicely, and my behavior hurt her. I was inconsiderate, selfish, ignorant, and unaware. Of course, this wasn’t always the case, but it does not take away from the choices I wish I had made differently, or the moments I want to apologize for.
Years ago I reconciled with my father. I had a key conversation with him and we had a do-over of our relationship for about a week. I want a different kind of do-over with my mother, and I am certain I will be able to achieve it if I am willing to take responsibility for my actions and behavior. I know that many of those moments were completely unintentional. But even unintentional actions can hurt.
In Israel, we are about to start the holiday of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, a “do-over” of sorts. For most people around the world, this fall/back-to-school season is a great time for a restart – no matter what your faith or culture.
I encourage you to do two things:
- Take a look at your life and take inventory. You might want to use the ‘Wheel of Life*” to do this. As you review the past year, evaluate your level of satisfaction. What worked and what didn’t? What do you want? What is your intention?
- Allow yourself to have a do-over. It can be with yourself, but bring this concept to others in your life as well as in your business dealings, and see if you can implement it.
Life, like each season and each holiday, brings change and the chance for renewal and do-overs.
Where would you like to have a do-over?
And then she moved on to the others, healing the traitors one by one,
not seeing their faults, but seeing their possibilities.
― Rebecca Ross