Fall is here, and with it, a powerful lesson about how to reap the abundance of the harvest season.
Today, for the first time since early spring, I pulled out the long leggings and layered up with a long-sleeved top and a hoodie when I went to the gym. There was a distinct chill in the air that confirmed what the calendar told us last week: Fall is here.
Spring seems to emerge slowly from under the blanket of winter’s snow, thawing out and creeping forward gingerly until it melts into summer. In contrast, Fall seems to come out of nowhere. One day it is warm and sunny and the next morning there’s a chill in the air that has me reaching for the light scarf and long leggings. Suddenly, it’s Fall.
The Harvest Season
We tend to think of Autumn as a season of harvest and abundance.
I buy most of my produce from the farmers at the Union Square Greenmarket. Late September through early October at the market is a feast for the senses. Late summer tomatoes, corn, watermelon and the last of the summer squash share space on the table with the early grapes, apples, pears, potatoes and winter squash.
The imagery and language of harvest is used often in our business environment, especially in sales cultures, which love farming metaphors. It also shows up in personal development circles.
Under the pretense of “growth,” our culture conditions us to constantly pursue “more.” We strive to do more, have more and be more. Push out of your comfort zone. Set bigger goals. Create new habits. We reward the strivers and drivers.
Similarly, when we feel stuck, our impulse is to push harder and do more.
The Growth Fallacy
The pursuit of growth is a noble objective, of course, but where we err is in our assumption that growth requires us to pursue “more.” This approach defies the laws of nature.
As much as Autumn is about reaping the harvest, it is also a time where nature sheds. The days shorten. The leaves start turning colors; soon they will fall off the trees.
In the cycle of creation, maintenance and destruction, this season of abundance is also a season of destruction.
When we pay attention to these natural cycles, we learn that we cannot receive abundance without letting go of something. We cannot create something new without destroying something that existed previously. This is how we create space for what we want to bring into our lives.
When we feel stuck, it is often because we are trying to hold onto something while also trying to move forward. Pushing harder only entrenches us further; the best way to get unstuck is to ease off, to release our grip on whatever is holding us back.
The process of shedding and release is integral to the process of growth.
The Side Effects of Shedding
The process of shedding and releasing isn’t always (ever?) easy.
As trees shed their leaves, their branches are left exposed and vulnerable to the elements. As the cover of the leaves falls away, we can see the tree’s branches for what they are: some are sturdy and strong, while others are fragile and breaking.
Our process of letting go can feel similar. It requires us to embrace our vulnerability. We must be willing to step out into the world raw and exposed, like the tree without leaves.
… and Freedom
And yet this shedding offers us freedom. The trees’ bare branches are able to catch and hold the winter snow, which would otherwise have slipped off the leaves. In the spring, new leaves grow back, and we have renewed appreciation for their beauty.
As we shed our layers, we free ourselves to be open to what the Universe wants to give us. We create space to receive the abundance that is coming our way.
Our Human Tendency
Change is never easy. We are often reluctant to let go of something to make space in our lives until we have found a replacement. Our human tendency is to grasp on to what we have until something better comes along.
This happens in so many aspects of our lives, and I see it with my clients – both in real estate and in my coaching practice:
- sellers who don’t want to sell until they know where they will live next
- buyers who are hesitant to commit to a purchase until they can know “for sure” that they won’t find something more perfect, or mortgage rates won’t fall lower
- a person who stays in an unfulfilling position until they have found something better or launched their own venture
- a person who stays in a relationship that isn’t working, just because they haven’t yet met someone better
This approach is often lauded because it’s the safe approach. It’s considered prudent and conservative. The smart thing to do.
The problem with this approach is that it often leads to missed opportunities.
For example, I’ve seen many sellers who waited to sell because they didn’t yet know where they would live next, or they wanted to hold out for a better market. In the end they missed the best market for selling their home. Some buyers wait on the sidelines for so long that they never buy a home.
When we cling to what we have, we are not free to embrace the opportunities that come to us.
You cannot open your arms to receive abundance if they are gripping onto what you already have.
The Lesson of the Harvest Season
Just like in nature, we must start the process of releasing and shedding before we know what the Universe will offer us. We must be willing to destroy something in order to create something better.
Of course, this can induce fear. It requires faith and trust: in the Universe, and in ourselves.
Attempting to cling to what we have until we have certainty about what is coming would be like the trees shedding their leaves at the end of winter, just before the new leaves blossomed in the light of spring.
It’s laughable to even think of that happening, because it’s so completely contradictory to the laws of nature.
Nature shows us that the trees shed their leaves in the harvest season — a moment that would seem to be counter-intuitive. The branches lie raw and exposed through the winter, a season when the harsh cold and snow create certainty that no new leaves will blossom. And yet the tree persists, growing stronger in the wind and cold, until, at last, it is rewarded with new leaves in the spring.
This is the lesson we learn from the autumn season: to grow, we must first be willing to shed our attachments. Only when we let go of what no longer serves us can we be free to accept the abundance that the Universe wants to give to us.
What Does this Look Like for You?
Consider this in the context of your life. Here are some inquiries to get you started:
What is no longer serving you?
What systems, processes, people, possessions, beliefs, ideas, emotions and mindsets are calling to be released so that you can step more fully into yourself?
Where are you clinging to something or someone that is actually holding you back from your growth?
Where can you let go?