2 min read


What's your weather today?

For Chris.

A fresh, sunny morning. The heaviness of a cloudy day. A summer evening's mellow calm. The dark intensity of a storm. What power the weather has to shape and color our experience of the world! What potential to change how we see and act!

Weather excites, unsettles, depresses and uplifts. It blows in and out, upsetting our plans. Sometimes it stays, grinding us down with its relentlessness. It brings fog. It makes things clearer. It changes in keeping with our mood.

It is hard to see what weather prevails when we are the ones creating it—when our own storms crash and our clouds darken the skies. We must make a special effort to take note of our own weather. When we do remember ourselves, we can adapt. We can put on a coat when it is raining, or stay indoors in a storm.

To accept the weather is to acknowledge that on some days certain attitudes and perspectives may not be forthcoming, or even possible. It is to recognize that some energies and states of being may not be available to us. When we accept the weather, we stop wasting energy on resisting it and respect our mood for what it is—bright or dark, high or low.

To understand the weather is to know that even the most persistent front will pass, with time—that sun will follow rain, and that we do best when we let our rainclouds come, let them be, and let them go.

My experience of corporate life is that moods and their attendant emotions are often ignored, or even forbidden. And yet we all still have them! I coach Harvard MBAs. I can confirm that they have moods! I coach CEOs. They have them too! We seem to want to pretend that we organize and govern corporations by the rational mind alone, as if admitting the existence of our emotions will give them power. Surely, the wiser path is to pay attention to the reality of our moods—to name them and acknowledge them, and to become more conscious of how they affect our behaviors and decisions.

Here is a simple exercise you can do every morning with your team that will help you forecast the day's weather. Using the illustration below, ask each team member to point to the quadrant that most closely describes how they are feeling. Let them say a few words if they want to. Allow them silence if they don't. My friend and former colleague Chris Escobar introduced this ritual to our product development team when we worked together at PayPal. Knowing at the start of the day that someone might be going through some bad weather was helpful as we got on with the work.

Each week I explore a life metaphor that has touched me in my coaching. Subscribe to get my scribblings every Sunday morning. You can also follow me on Medium, or on LinkedIn. Feel free to forward this to a friend, colleague, or loved one, or anyone you think might benefit from reading it.