Thursday, May 13, 2010

What can mother earth teach you about leadership?

If you've missed the news lately or don't have a child in elementary school as I do, you may have to think back to your elementary school days to remember that Earth Day takes place in April. Yep, the official date this year was April 22, 2010.

Back when I was in elementary school, I remember creating a time capsule and burying things into the ground to be unearthed at a later time. Upon reflection, this exercise seems to be more related to the study of archeological history and preserving artifacts than it does about Mother Earth. However, the same exercise today may teach us about the concerns of landfills and the impact they have on the "green," global warming debate. This was not the case several decades ago.

But, regardless of whether you are on the "global warming" side of the debate today or not, this much is clear; we still have much to appreciate and learn from our planetary parent.

And it isn't all green either.

That's right Mother Earth can host a class on leadership that can hold a candle to any MBA course out there. Her leadership lessons are so abundant and available to us right in our very back door. So, put on your walking shoes and join me for a walk in the park.

I was doing just that the other day when I realized that only in nature can we really experience what it means to transform. After all, the ability to transform requires a great deal of leadership.

In nature, life transforms. It transforms without any questions, hesitations or thoughts.

In nature, there are no judgments for what may appear to be an end or a beginning. There is no bias for what has been or what will be.

Transformation simply happens because it must. To thwart it would be to destroy life

And yet, as individuals, organizations and businesses, transformation is often what we seek, but we have the darnedest time achieving it.

Because we thwart it every step of the way (present company certainly not excluded!)

Unlike nature, we hold on to those dead leaves on our branches. The dead job, the dead relationship, the dead issue. We want to resuscitate rather than to let go what is no longer working for us.


Unlike nature, we resist destruction. We build onto old ways of doing things instead of clearing the slate. We convince ourselves that it's better to build up than it is to tear down.

Unlike nature, we hang on even when we aren't being fed. We resist change rather than face our fears and we hang on even if it means we are starved.

Mother Earth teaches us and reminds us that in order to transform and grow in your life, you need to become a better leader at home and at work. Start this process by:

Letting go of what is no longer working for you
Cleaning the slate and tearing down rather than building on shaky ground
Being courageous and facing your fears and finding a place to be fed

I have always enjoyed the idea of Earth day. Who better to honor than Mother Earth?

And after all, we now have more to thank her for.