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With winter’s cold hands already beginning to tighten their grasp, perhaps it’s time we embraced the balance frost brings to our lives.
The British poet Anne Bradstreet saw life’s winter as a gift.
“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant,” she said. “If we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
But why can’t the sun shine always, you ask?
What would be the downside of living in a pleasant bubble and never experiencing tragedy?
You’ve heard cliches such as “no pain, no gain”, but this still doesn’t answer the question of why we need winter.
While reading a story about the 30th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the best-selling album in history, I stumbled on an autobiography of the album’s co-producer, Quincy Jones.
Jones is legend in the world of music.
He produced and conducted the mega-hit We are the World, he has worked with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Amy Winehouse, and in a career spanning five decades he has won 27 Grammy Awards.
But prior to Jones experiencing the summer of success, he endured many winter months.
At seven years of age, Jones’s mother Sarah Frances was diagnosed with schizophrenia and admitted to a mental hospital.
As a child, Jones lived in a ghetto in Chicago so poor that he is reported to have eaten rats and worse. On a trip to visit his mother in the hospital, he witnessed her falling to her knees and eating her own faeces. Jones says he turned to music during those dark, cold, hopeless days.
Would Jones have become the most successful music producer of all time if he had not been forced to eat rats and see his mother lose her mind?
I’m certainly not one to speak on behalf of destiny, but Jones doesn’t seem to think so.
Our values and ultimately our character are both shaped during expeditions through life’s highs and lows.
If you can imagine your character as clay and a high and a low as being life’s strong hands, the beautiful pottery you are moulded into is the result of both hands working to sculpt you into a beautiful masterpiece.
Your personal brand would not be as beautifully balanced without winter.
French novelist and Nobel prize winner Albert Camus said: “In the depths of winter I finally learnt that there was in me an invincible summer.”
l To invite Timothy Maurice Webster for a talk on personal branding, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org