Nature as a Business Coach

I took my niece camping at the weekend. One of the benefits of rural living is that we can be immersed in the bush half an hour after the school bell rings.

By 9pm Friday night the Girl Nibling was sleeping so soundly that I had to check her breathing. She woke naturally with the sunrise and rushed to grab the SLR to capture the misty morning light.

At least three times before breaky my niece remarked how surprising it was that she wasn’t tired. By removing ourselves from the artificial lighting of home, office and device we’d reset our body clocks to sync with natural cycles.

Western medicine is finally catching onto what ancient cultures have known for aeons; that our internal master clock - circadian rhythm - is attuned to the planetary cycle of night and day. It regulates sleep and body systems, and it’s vital to our mental and physical health.

I think it’s important to consider how we can live and work in more attuned ways. By going camping or using low-level lamp light in the evenings, it’s possible to reset and reenergise ourselves into cyclical time.

These rhythms used to be so intuitive for humans. There’s a price to pay for modern beliefs that we can transcend nature with 24/7 bright lights, power and on switches.

Medical doctors in the UK are now prescribing time in nature for patients with chronic illnesses. A recent medical study showed that a two-hour weekly dose is the minimum required to boost health and wellbeing.

It is astonishing that people have to be taught to be in nature. But the reality is that we spend limited time outdoors and more time attached to screens. This has been attributed to increased rates of anxiety and depression, as our stressed and busy lives detach us further and further from the natural world.

After five years in business while managing chronic illness, I’ve realised how valuable nature is to my bottom lines. I’ve recently rejigged my office hours to take mornings off. I start my days slowly and in nature.

The quality and enjoyment of my work has improved because I am refreshed and well. My creativity is flowing. The right kind of business seems to be coming my way. Yes, I still have deadlines but my soul is no longer dying.

When we stop trying to fit in and force so many things, we give the pieces of the puzzle space to fall into place. How many times does the light bulb moment come when you step away from the computer? I can’t tell you how often I’ve cracked the code in the shower, doing the dishes or taking a walk. Fresh air really does bring fresh thinking.

I get a regular dose out at a local nature reserve six km out of the central Victorian town where I live and work. It’s a mystical place laden with granite boulders. There’s a perimeter track which means I can wander all over and confidently get lost exploring in the bush.

The base reassures me because I know that I will eventually get back on track wherever I land. Nature has its ways of providing valuable teachings, if you’re willing to listen. 

Even if you’re in the midst of the city, a sit spot in your garden or a local park can be valuable. Find a place to visit for 10-15 minutes a day. Quietly observe the goings on, the birdlife, the soundscape. Watch the patterns and cycles emerge over time.

A cyclical way of thinking is valuable for business people. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by linearity, with its never-ending to do lists and ceaseless forward motion. I find it helpful to reset each day rather than admonish myself for what did not get done yesterday.

This approach makes it easier to consider and prepare for tomorrow.

Leanganook Sunrise by Torah Dowling

Leanganook Sunrise by Torah Dowling

When I dropped my niece off after our camping sojourn, the last thing she said was, “We’re going again, for two days next time.”

I want there to be more next times and future tomorrows. That’s why my business will be closed on Friday to join the school strike for climate. Nature and our own bodies are telling us that we cannot do business as usual. It’s time to listen. Sync your way back to the planetary rhythms.

Nature’s lessons for business people:

  • Go camping outdoors or lamping at home

  • Think of time as cyclical, not linear

  • Forget smarter or harder; work well

  • Step away from the device

  • Let ideas fall into place rather than be forced out

  • Explore by leveraging from a foundation that enables creativity and risk

  • Find a sit spot and just observe for ten minutes every day

  • Remember that you are nature, not separate from it.

With thanks to Flying Solo for publishing an excerpt.