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[Week 24.03] Baby It’s Cold

Scott Osman

January 29, 2024

If you are in the US right now, you are likely experiencing either very cold weather or unbearably cold weather. Having lived in the Northeast most of my life, I love winter and don't mind the cold. But the current cold spell is particularly bone-chilling between the erraticness of the temperature (it was over 50 degrees last week!) and the sometimes howling accompanying winds. With my puppy coach still requiring outings occasionally, I cannot simply stay inside and wait it out. Without the snow, the cold is just the cold with the accompanying ice of the streets, cold permeating the insulated glass, and a feeling of fatigue from the extra energy to stay warm. With my sweater and down vest on, I have been thinking about what I can learn from the challenge of bearing the cold. I understand there are other parts of the world far frostier than here, but the experience of cold is somewhat relative, so here is what I've got.

With extreme cold, having the right gear is absolutely critical. When I went outside thinking I could get away with a quick walk without a hat and gloves (or a warm enough jacket), I was quickly reminded that it was a bad idea. In my work life, I often make the same mistake, thinking I can cut corners and not be fully prepared, and while the coaching is not as swift and punishing, I usually regret it. Even when I get away with doing a little less, it never feels like it was how I like to show up, that the work is not the kind of work that represents me as I want to be seen. So, I am using the immediate feedback of the cold as a reminder that being prepared in life and leadership is critical.

While I never like a wasted effort, it is particularly punishing when I run an errand or need to do something outside and forget something inside, leave an item behind, or don't think through the trip. The cold has made me more aware of the value of planning before taking action. I write a shopping list of critical items rather than relying on memory. I make sure the store is open in advance so I do not make the trip unnecessarily. And I double-checked with my friend to make sure our meeting was confirmed. How I operate in the cold reminds me how, on warmer days, I can allow the lack of extreme temperature to make me a little lazy. Trying to be efficient in sub-zero weather is an excellent reminder of how much more effective we can be when it matters most.

And the cold has also helped me appreciate the warmth, whether that warmth is inside or another time of the year. For a long time, I have found it curious that when it is 49 degrees outside in the summer, it feels cold, and when it is 49 degrees in the winter, it feels warm. With temperatures dropping way below freezing into the negative numbers in some places, anything above freezing can be better appreciated. I want to be able to carry that appreciation into the rest of my life as well. I aspire to appreciate our business as it continues to grow even as we have growing pains and to delight in my relationships as they are nourishing even though they always come with some complications. The first warmth of coming in from the cold can be a welcome reminder of the good fortune of most days.

These cold spells, erratic as they are severe, are great opportunities to learn more about ourselves and how much capacity we have. They are times for us to rely on each other for warmth and to be grateful for warm clothing, strong windows, and hot meals. They are also good opportunities to remind ourselves about how much extra capacity we have, how much better we can show up, and how we can be better prepared. And for those we love and lead, we can remember how they need a little more warmth, extra layers of clothing, and lots of appreciation when cold winds blow. In life and leadership, if we can bear with adversity and store up the lessons learned, we can find new ways to grow and expand, even when it's cold outside.

With love, gratitude and wonder.


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