Change is all around us. The pace of change is accelerating. A key leadership trait for the future is to be agile to change and harness it’s power for our organizations. Who is the real expert at managing change? It’s Mother Earth. The planet has been evolving for billions of years, successfully managing change. On Earth Day 2013, here are ten wise lessons we can learn from the Earth.
Ten Wise Lessons from the Earth
1) Expect Change. We are in constant movement and change is a rule of nature. It shows up in the seasons. It shows up in the movement of the Earth. It shows up in the tides. We are part of the flow of the universe where everything is in constant change. Then why are we surprised by the seasons in our careers and in our lives?
2) Some changes are evolutionary, others disruptive. Looking at the history of the earth from billions of years ago, some changes happened slowly. Others were disruptive and changed everything. The same is true for business. We need to learn how to adapt to both types of change.
3) To prepare, scan the environment for signs of change – All kinds of species prepare for change. Chipmunks store nuts. Bears eat up so they can hibernate in the winter. They smell the air, take in the coming change from all their senses and prepare. When we as leaders, are not present to the signs of change (mostly because of our fear of it), we don’t prepare adequately. What is your practice to scan the environment for change?
4) Adapt or die – Another law of nature is that our best survival lies in our evolution. We have lots of examples in nature where a species’ best response to change was to evolve. Trees shed their leaves in the fall. Birds fly south. Yet as humans we have a false belief from our ego that our best safety lies in clinging to what we know vs. adapting toward the flow.
5) To create you have to destroy – The creation and destruction cycle is another law of nature. To create something new you have to destroy something old. Yet, as humans, we resist destruction of the old. We resist shutting down businesses that are dying slowly. We stay in jobs that we are miserable in, all to avoid change. We must be willing to let go of assumptions, situations, people, mindsets that no longer serve us so new better conditions can be achieved. What are you clinging to that needs to be destroyed?
6) Know yourself – The sunflowers look for the sun. Orchids grow in high humidity. What are the best conditions for you to grow and blossom? Use some of these resources to get to know yourself so you can better adapt to changing conditions.
7) Always move toward fertile ground – As the environment around you changes, move toward fertile ground for you. This comes from knowing yourself. What is more fertile ground that you can move to? What is more fertile ground your organization needs to move to?
8) Find your place in food chain – In nature, each species has a role. Each role is critical to the survival of the species and the food chain overall. In the business ecosystem, what is the role of your organization to sustain the ecosystem? As a leader in your organization or team, do you understand what your unique role or contribution is to the ecosystem?
9) The survival of the species depends on the survival of its young – Species evolved to ensure the survival of the young. Amphibians evolved such that the young are born well-equipped to survive on their own. Mammals evolved brains wired for nurturing to protect and nurture their young. How are you nurturing the young in your organization?
10) We’re all interconnected so know the repercussions of your actions . If bees become extinct, it will drastically affect life on the planet as bees pollinate a substantial percentage of the plant food available. Our actions have repercussions far beyond what we can see. Do you understand all the ripples of impact your actions can have on your team, organization, customers, suppliers, and community?
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