Caption: This spring I ate my way across the countryside of southern Italy and reconnected with my Insead colleagues in Trani, Italy. Here I am pictured on the coast. This is really the start of one of my summer adventures because a friend/colleague on this trip is now planning our adventure to Tuscany this summer!

“School's out for summer
School's out forever…”

-     Alice Cooper, Album: School's Out (1972)

The way my brain works is that I visualize the summer as the end of the year and the start of FREE TIME!!

I think this idea is due to all those years of school. That rhythm was integrated into my psyche and even after all these years (most of which did not consist of 3months of “free time”) it’s stuck with me. Alice Cooper’s song, “School’s Out,” captures the feeling for me perfectly (maybe that’s why it is the first song on our Seasons Leadership Summer Spotify playlist!):

If you have been reading our blogs for some time, you know that Seasons Leadership uses the metaphor of the seasons to illustrate the predictable phases we all move through in all parts of our lives. Careers, relationships, interests, abilities, all go through natural cycles of change. The better we are at recognizing these phases or seasons, the more able we are to gracefully navigate our way in line with our intentions. Having this self-awareness helps us achieve leadership excellence through it all.

The summer of leadership

Summer is the time in your leadership journey when you are in the flow. The summer season is active, the energy is expansive. We wholeheartedly say “YES!” to ideas, opportunities, and people. In our work or vocation, we have a clear vision, we are committed to our mission – and we have the energy to achieve our goals. This activity does not drain us – it energizes us even more. We increase competency and level up into skills mastery and our confidence rises.

All this activity is far from an ending…and yet it is an ending of sorts to that first phase of leadership “spring.” Spring, when you are perhaps starting a new venture, job or phase of life, brings with it excitement and a heavy dose of uncertainty. The reward of summer is getting through those early challenges of spring to bring us to a place where we can start to relax a little and enjoy where we are in our leadership.

Caption: Here I am sitting in the place of leadership on "my airplane." I call it that because I was lucky enough to support this airplane program during my career at Boeing. During my flight back from Italy this spring, the all-female crew invited passengers during a delay in Rome to come check out the flight deck. I was in heaven!

Design your summer

This new confidence allows you to take on a new venture or initiative with your team or take your business to the next level. This is right in step with the kind of summertime fun we often associate with a busy summer. I like Gretchen Rubin’s idea of designing your summer which she talks about in her podcast Happier. Summer represents a time for fun and connecting with others outdoors. It’s a time to have some adventures and explore.

I’m designing my summer around connecting with family and friends around new adventures. What does this mean? I’m traveling to amazing places – but with the intention of connecting with people I care about in novel places and making new friends along the way. I’m road tripping to Montana with my brother and sister-in-law to shop at Montana’s Bitterroot 50-mile garage sale. While in Montana, we will experience the beauty of the Bitterroot valley and even make it to a Robert Plant and Alison Krauss concert! Who knows what treasures and adventures we will encounter, but I know we will be surprised!

I’m also heading to Europe. I am going to visit old friends and make a few new ones in Switzerland and Italy – and discover a bit about my ancestral homeland of Ireland. I will be in places new to me, and I am looking forward to navigating the unknown.

I’ll make it back to the Pacific Northwest just in time to enjoy the end of summer. I believe there isn’t a place more beautiful in the world and I don’t want to miss it. This will be my time to slow down.

Take time to rest and renew

When we are in summer season in our careers, we are productive and achieving a lot -we could be climbing the ladder and getting promoted. We in the US celebrate the career summer season. It is thrilling! We love it when things are going well, and we are supported and encouraged to do more.

There are downsides to this summer energy, however. Our friends and family might suggest we are out of balance because we are spending so much time at work, and they don’t see us enough. We might have trouble staying on track because we are excited and distracted by all the possibilities. We might lack patience and overreach. We might burn out because we don’t take time to rest and renew.

Even though my summer plans are not solely focused on my career, I can see that I have said “Yes!” to many exciting opportunities. It is a busy summer – and my family and friends have noticed. I will remember to protect the end of the summer and take time to slow down and take it all in.

I encourage you to leverage the energy of the summer, but to also slow down and enjoy the season!

Looking for more inspiration for the season? Check out our summer newsletter from last year.

Susan Ireland has 30+ years of leadership experience. As an ICF-Certified Professional Coach, Susan works with executives, entrepreneurs and leaders at all levels to enhance leadership and business acumen, encourage self-discovery and turn challenges into positive results. Her thought-provoking and creative approach inspires enduring, transformative change.

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