Work that mimics patterns in nature has the potential drive local and global change; honoring our humanness and the natural world, creating more connection and collaboration.
Venturing into the outdoors for unmediated experience of the natural world can awaken our creativity, leadership, and awareness to create the business practices that our world so desperately needs.
Below are eight tips to get started.
Whether we’re in the conference room or out in the forest, at Wild Earth all of our meetings and programs begin with expressing gratitude. Giving thanks connects us to one another and affirms value in things that are often taken for granted.
In the workplace this can be radical. When we practice gratitude we celebrate life. Gratitude cultivates a sense of satisfaction, of abundance, of having enough.
Imagine a future where satisfaction, abundance, and a sense of having enough pervades our economy, from leadership to workers to customers and beyond.
In our office and in the forest, after giving thanks we often start meetings with a check in and will periodically set aside entire meetings for the sole purpose of checking in with one another.
Setting aside time to share our joys and our challenges creates a culture of connection, strengthening bonds within your team, enhancing health and productivity. Research is affirming that strengthening personal connections at work makes us less stressed, healthier, more productive, and likely to live significantly longer.
At Wild Earth, we are educating everyone on our team about patterns of discrimination. During staff trainings, we’ve dedicated time to creating safe spaces for honest sharing; inviting men and women to share about the upsides and downsides of experiencing the world through their gender. We’ve encouraged staff to continue their education around patterns of oppression and discrimination; sharing articles, podcasts, and this spring we are bringing in outside facilitators for whole day workshop on cultural literacy and power dynamics.
The reality is, power imbalances and patterns of discrimination are all around us (and likely internalized within ourselves). Discriminatory power dynamics manifest through subtle and overt behavior and it keeps team members from feeling more engaged in their work. Honestly investigating the ways that gender, skin color, and other factors are influencing norms within your team can help everyone to feel more valued and more invested in their work.
Establishing interruption-free workspaces where we can delve into deep work is increasingly becoming a priority for us at Wild Earth. Next month, we’re moving out of our two-room open floorplan office and into a three-story house where we will have a mix of private and common workspaces providing our staff and instructors more opportunities to collaborate or to delve into focused work.
Ever experienced a post-lunch dip in focus and energy? Honoring this natural dip is built into Wild Earth programs. Following focused learning or hard effort we make time for hanging around the fire tinkering with handicrafts or heading into the forest for a timeless group wander with no destination and no urgency.
In our new office, we’re excited to be exploring ways to accommodate this same energetic pattern in our office work. We will be taking walks, enjoying “tea time”, heading out for a paddle on the Rondout river, or maybe taking siestas.
In the forest at Wild Earth, celebrating our successes and experiences is engrained into every program. At the end of every day, participants come together to share stories. Recalling discoveries, funny moments, and other observations helps everyone to leave the woods feeling more connected to one another and to the day’s experiences.
How often are you celebrating your work? Recognizing success is powerful. Celebrating our successes boosts pride our work, reinforces confidence, and leaves everyone feeling like they’re part of a well functioning organization.
In the office, we’re still working on incorporating celebration into our workflow. It often feels like there’s so much good work to do that we don’t want to stop working to take a victory lap. We’ve begun to integrate celebration into our office by making time during meetings for success stories and we’re hopeful that more of us working in the same space will create more informal opportunities to celebrate our accomplishments.
At Wild Earth, we regularly give thanks for those who have stewarded our work in the past. Recalling the names and gifts of those who have made our good work possible keeps things in perspective, connecting us to the past and to the future world we create through our own efforts, providing context and enhancing the meaning of our work.
We also prioritize relationships with elders. Including elders in our work provides us with the gifts of their experience, the encouragement of grandparent-like unconditional love, and the wider perspective that comes from their living more years than us.
For our organization, our elders, campfire discussions, and wilderness-based rites of passages, help us to keep big life questions in our awareness. Creating a culture that values deep reflection keeps us more honest about our lives and the impact of our work, ensuring that our work is inline with the world that we most yearn for — for ourselves, our families, and future generations.
In a world where short-term gains are often championed above all else, making time for difficult to answer questions about our world, the value of our work, and the legacy we leave behind can be revolutionary.
A group of 30 entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders from the Good Work Institute’s 2017 Fellowship started their day in the woods, hanging around a warm fire, experiencing a Wild Earth program complete with gratitude, song, blindfolds, and expanded awareness.
Many of us came away from the day feeling more connected to one another, to nature, and to growth edges within ourselves that we want to work on. Which led me to wonder, what can business learn from our wilderness programming?
The Good Work Institute (GWI) is supporting Hudson Valley business and community leaders in doubling-down on a commitment to do just this kind of work.
Good work as defined by GWI is: work that honors nature, connects us, nourishes us, embodies integrity, is equitable, grows appropriately, and stays open. Clearly the world needs more good work.
Through a six-month fellowship and other programs, GWI is reimagining business education, prioritizing “compassion, wisdom, and ethical integrity, instead of limitless growth, competition, and profit maximization.”
Ultimately, our ability to innovate and find ways to work that honors nature and our humanness will require us to delve more fully into our own experiences of nature. Venturing into the outdoors for unmediated experience of the natural world can awaken a creativity, leadership, and awareness that is inspired enough to create the business practices and values that our world so desperately needs.
Check out Wild Earth’s Programs for Professionals and give us a call, we’d love to talk with you about how a wilderness experience can benefit your group.
“Instead of opening our computers, we started a fire and opened our senses to the abundance found in a little natural hamlet next to a lake near Rosendale, NY. The depth of insights about the human and more than human world that we discovered that day are exactly what’s needed for today’s workforce – understanding diverse perspectives, increasing empathy, developing our communication and observation skills. These were just some of the incredible outcomes from a day of Good Work with Wild Earth.”
Erica Dorn, Managing Director of the Good Work Institute
Big thanks to the Williams Lake Project for partnering with Wild Earth to make programs like these possible! It was a real treat to bring the Good Work Institute to the magical woods of Williams Lake for the day.
And mad credit to Jesse Brown of Digi Ranch for taking phenomenal photos of our time in the woods.
PS: After being a part of the Good Work Institute’s 2016 Fellowship, it was a real treat to invite GWI out to experience Wild Earth’s transformative programming. I highly recommend their programs. Organizations like the Good Work Institute are helping the Hudson Valley to be a fertile leader in innovative socially, environmentally, and economically vibrant work.
As a child Simon spent countless hours exploring the forest, streams and wetlands of his neighborhood in NJ. Simon has a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont where he focused on the relationship between a healthy human psyche and a vibrant natural world. He has staffed and studied with various wilderness schools throughout the Northeast including the Institute for Natural Learning, White Pine Programs and the Vermont Wilderness School. When he’s not in the woods, Simon is designing and building websites and other internet solutions. More about Simon's work.