Reintegrating nature

August 23, 2009

Tree1

I have just spent an amazing day walking in Richmond Park; London’s largest green space.  Small lakes and ponds, little forests with impressive old trees, a deer that ran about 10 meters in front of me, as if to say hi. But mainly, incredible peace, stillness and harmony. At one point, I sat by an old tree, closed my eyes, took a deep breath to smell the freshness of the moment and let the wind gently blow as the setting sun was slowly saying goodbye. And I thought to myself, I haven’t felt this present, calm and happy for a long time…

When I think of a normal day at work for me and for many out there, I think of ongoing stream of incoming emails, requests, the hundreds of decisions that need to be made, the over air-conditioned slick boardrooms and offices, the rush, the traffic jams on our way to work, the seeming urgency of everything, the stress, fear and endless competitions, the sleepless nights, liters of coffee, stakeholders, shareholders, targets, priorities, strategies, rushed meetings… should I continue?

Those two worlds seem to be so far from each other. In fact they seem to occupy the very opposite end of a spectrum. It is as if in one we earn the right to enjoy the other. One is the world we are creating, the other we are slowly letting dissapear. In one we fight for success, for prestige, for fame, in  the other we realize we already have everything we need. In one we run, in the other we stop and enjoy the silence…

Yet we need both to go forward. We cannot chuck out the results of our evolution because we do not like the effects that we are now starting to see. At the same time, we do need to acknowledge that the Earth might not be able to regenerate fast enough to cope with the growing effects of our interventions without our help. We need to learn how to evolve and keep what’s healthy rather over-criticize our past that can not be changed. The way forward is not to go BACK to nature, it will be to go FORWARD WITH nature…

Tree2What if we could rebuild our organizations to reflect natural cycles and laws in everything from the way we work, set goals and make decisions to how we understand its purpose, vision and strategy? What if we could combine science and our technological achievements with the ever-present wisdom of nature? What if we could learn how to enhance our busy life-style with the moments of stillness, peace and harmony at the crucial times? What if we turn our attention to sustaining ourselves and our health alongside sustaining the organizations that we work in? What if we acknowledge that we hold only a part of the story and can’t do without the other going forward?

I believe it is time for us to merge these two worlds together to achieve a sustainable way forward… We are part of nature and nature is part of us… To think of humanity as separate from the rest of nature does not make sense anymore. The future is inviting us to re-think a fundamental story that has been told for far too long…

PS To see how modern science can learn from nature, see Janine Benyus talk on Biomimicry at TED available here.

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