The Needs of Plants and Leaders

The Needs of Plants and Leaders

I’ve been fortunate to inherit a lot of traits and qualities from my mother. My wife is a little disappointed just how much of my mother’s ‘green thumb’ gene I got 🙂 Every window in our house, and other spaces as well, are filled with the flowering plants I love to grow. Visitors often ask how I’m able to grow so many, especially the numerous ten-year-old orchids that continue regular blooming.

To get anything to blossom – plants or in life – requires mindful attention and care. It necessitates understanding the particular balance and interplay of needs and the environment, such as adapting the amount of light and water based on the seasons. In the case of my orchids: southeastern light in the winter, eastern light in the spring, western light in the summer, etc.

Like the mindfulness a gardner must offer plants, understanding relationships, circumstances and needs is an essential skill for a leader to be successful as well.

Anyone committed to leading, helping or delivering positive results must understand the big picture of where you are and where you want to go. You must also recognize the practical action steps needed to produce the outcomes you want. At EPI, we talk about this as the Eagle and Ant perspectives. Integrating these two perspectives is essential. It enables you to pursue your goals within the ecosystem you exist in, with its unique challenges and characteristics.

Similarly, you must be able to understand relationships. In the case of the orchids, it’s understanding the dance between light, temperature, and water. For leaders, it’s often knowing the relationships on your team, personalities and the ways different people think, act and feel. The diversity and importance of relationship is one of the reasons why it’s one of EPI’s ten core ecopsychological principles.

In addition to the awareness of needs, relationships and your environments, the gardner and leader must also be able to adapt. There is never one fixed solution. Everything is constantly changing, and you must be able to embrace this. This applies to people, plans and projects as well house conditions for growing plants. Uncertainty and complexity are truths of life. If you can evolve and adapt with this then you can be successful.

Learning from our environment and applying this to how people organize, engage and perform is at the heart of what the EcoPsychology Initiative does. We take the insights, principles and designs found in natural ecosystems and apply this to help humans live better with a more positive impact. Our upcoming course, Nature of Leadership uses ecopsychology to provide existing and aspiring leaders with lessons, principles and qualities to empower them to be more effective regardless of the environment or needs.

Whether you’re trying to develop a organization, heal a community or just grow some plants, may you learn from your environment. May you pay attention, learn and adapt to changing circumstances so you can provide whatever is needed. In this way, you will can help anything grow and flower.

by Dennis Kiley

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