What Nature Has Taught Me About Business

I have a guest article up over at About’s Freelance Writing site. Thanks, Allena!

I had a shaky re-entry yesterday, first with clearing up an invoice problem that apparently never existed (long, boring story involving incompetence somewhere else), then with a quick turn-around on a new client project, which I hope is what they’re looking for. Hard to tell, as I’ve not met them personally and I have just a few lines of instruction on what it is they’re looking for. Fingers crossed. It’s tough to create targeted content on that and a few hours of sleep, but I tried.

I have a client meeting this morning, so I’m out the door again.Then we’re driving back to see my family – there’s another 10 hours of travel on a tired body. But it will be great to see everyone.

As I lazed around on the patios and sitting rooms at B&Bs and in-laws’ homes, I had a chance to figure out a few key things learned from the great outdoors. Maybe it was the sun, the dehydration, or even the time change, but this is what I think Nature has taught me:

Slow down. Not all business or connections made happen in rapid-fire fashion. Some of the more enjoyable times in my life have netted me close relationships and equally close business partnerships.

Let go. Spending time without adequate Internet connection has made me realize that business is important to survival, but it’s in letting go of the stress that real creativity begins. Once again, poems came pouring out of me absent the stresses of clients and payments.

Be alert to obstacles or danger. I heeded the warnings about rattlesnakes and javelinas (big angry piglike mammals), and realized that even the most innocuous setting can change rapidly if I’m not looking a little farther down the path. Eyes ahead helped in more than one case, and assessing the path before walking ahead saved a few turned ankles.

Plunge in. At the start of our hike through a canyon, I tried crossing the cold stream with my shoes off to keep them dry. Then I realized the entire trip was going to be in and out of the water. The shoe went back on and I forged ahead. The trip was much sweeter and my feet were spared the dancing around sharp thorns and rocks. Same for the career – taking the same chances has taken me to some great places.

Not all birds are identical. His quest to see every LBJ (little brown job) in the southwest was frustrating to this non-birder (I had my meltdown on the third or fourth day), but once my patience was intact, I saw some pretty incredible birds, like a huge flock of sandhill cranes, some harrier hawks, hummingbirds galore, and all sorts of odd little birds I’ve never seen before. Not all projects are the same, either – nor should they be treated so.

The people matter most. My best memories of this vacation were intertwined with the people along the way. In one case, the trip was made thanks to the company we shared. If we had just shown up, slept in, muttered hellos over breakfast and went on, we’d have missed knowing some seriously cool and incredible people.

What does Nature teach you?

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  • Cathy Miller January 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    The words that speak loudest are those found in the silence of nature. πŸ™‚

  • Kimberly Ben January 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Trust and follow your instincts. I don't know what happens to us over time that causes us doubt our gut feelings, but I'm re-learning how to recognize and respond to them.

  • Jake P January 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Great fun to meet up with you while you were out here, Lori! And glad the desert was inspiring for you–it continues to be so for me, after 20 years. BTW, if you haven't read "Desert Solitaire" (about Edward Abbey's park ranger years in Arches and Canyonlands), I highly recommend it.

  • Anne Wayman January 6, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    What!!!! You met with Jake!!!! I'm so jealous and I wasn't that far away…. whine whine whine.

    Lovely post and Jake is absolutely right about Desert Solitaire and any other of Abbey's writing.

    Truly glad you're back. Great lessons.

  • Lori January 8, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Beautiful sentiment, Cathy. πŸ™‚

    True, Kim. I'm fortunate that I've learned to heed it more and ignore it less. Tough to do when you're looking for checks and not relationships, though.

    Jake, it was a pleasure! I see why you love it there – really. Great place, even in the heat. Thanks for the book recommendation, but thanks especially for meeting up for coffee!

    Anne, if it weren't 6 hours each way, I'd have been at your doorstep. :)) Our time is coming, I swear. πŸ˜‰