Halycon days of stillness are here. At the time of the winter solstice the halycon, a mythical bird, was said by the ancient writers to charm the wind and waves to calm. For thousands of years, people have paused to celebrate the solstice, which literally means “sun is still.”

In the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice marks the turning point in late December where the days gradually begin to grow longer again.

In any time of change, it is crucial for change leaders to be halcyon-like. We charm the wind and waves of change to calmness, and create the space for stillness.

The word “calm” is derived from “heat” or “to burn,” meaning “to rest in the heat of the day.” Where is your calm – your rest in the heat of the year?

Cultivating calm

As one year comes to a close and another opens, take the time for stillness. Be still enough to notice where you are becoming more of who you are. Calm enough to observe and celebrate edges you have crossed.

Quiet enough to sense into the longing, and to pick up the signals that are clues to what wants to emerge.

It’s in the stillness that we inquire, let go, and let come.


Reflective practice questions:

  • What are you longing for?
  • What is your purpose?
  • What are you wanting to create? What is calling to you?
  • What is the systemic change you want to see in the world? In our communities? Our organizations? Our families?

Reflecting on purpose

Purpose can be described as longing, and in longing there is tension. This creative tension exists between the challenge and the opportunity, the known and the unknown, worst fears and best hopes; the reactive and the creative mind.

In the space between, we are at an edge. On one side is the status quo and safety, on the other our purpose and vision.

We are in creative tension between safety and purpose.

Reflective practice questions:

  • Is safety or purpose calling to you loudest?
  • Which has the greater pull?
  • Will you play it safe or be on purpose?

All too often we choose safety and comfort over purpose and the discomfort of VUCA (Volatility Uncertainty Complexity and Ambiguity).


What appears to be a choice for comfort and safety is actually a managed level of anxiety.
• Bob Anderson, Mastering Leadership

Calling on courage

Leading change is frequently uncomfortable, as we make the invisible forces of change visible. We choose purpose over safety, employing the gifts of compassion, curiosity and courage for self and others.

Doing so requires us to look within and transform ourselves, even as we transform the systems of which we are a part. We are aware that we too can get in our own way, sabotaging the future we are committed to creating.

To shuffle, step, leap, or fly into the future we envision, we must first delve into and explore our worst fears and the limiting beliefs assumptions beneath them. It is only then, says Anderson, that we give ourselves the opportunity to see that our fears are not what we thought they were.

Courage is essential in leading change. Others may ignore or disagree with our vision as we address the system. In seeking change, we challenge cherished and invisible structures of thought, belief or philosophy, and move forward in ambiguity. It is this tension between known and unknown that creates the conflict.

    Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.
    • Pablo Picasso


    Conflict, whether internal or external, is a sign of life. It signals the new thoughts and beliefs that are wanting to evolve.

    As a change leader, you may be a controversial figure. Stillness supports you in becoming secure enough in your own purpose to move forward in the face of disapproval.

    Reflective practice questions:

    • Are you clear on your vision?
    • What might resource you for encountering and staying with conflict?
    • Are you prepared to be disagreed with, even disliked and distrusted?
    • How can you build your skill in recruiting others to lead change with you, igniting the same passion that you feel?

    A time to evolve

    In noting the turning points in nature, we can also take time to recognize the changes within ourselves. Sitting in stillness, we recognize how far we have come, and consider how to move toward the spark of our longing.

    Your old self is too small for the purpose and vision that is emerging. You have a much larger self to grow into that is fully capable of creating the future to which you can aspire.

    What questions can you take into the stillness to ignite your vision for the year to come?

    Want more reflective practice? Come to Spain with us in 2024!

    Soul Sala is a soul-stirring immersive experience which reconnects you to essence and purpose in virtual sessions and on Spain’s Costa Brava coast. 

    Question | Where are you creating from a place of stillness this season?

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      As director of Novalda,Kerry Woodcockdevelops core, collective and change leadership capacity in leaders, teams and organizations, coaching pioneers and influencers to amplify the power of relationship and lead over the edge of change. 

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