The Energizer

Resilient Insights for Work & Life

Resiliency Reminders Reaped from Nature

by Eileen McDargh, Chief Energy Officer - Monday, September 10, 2018
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I recently found this article which I wrote eight years ago. It struck me that the insights are timeless. Enjoy!

One hour north of Ely, MN, off a gravel road called Echo Trail, Little Indian Sioux River meanders through lily-pad waters and past beaver houses to meet Loon Lake.  It’s but a tiny part of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a vast chain of lakes and rivers that divide Canada and the United States.

It was our fourth season to canoe for a week, testing our ability to paddle against wind gusts of 35-mph, fight mosquitoes and stinging flies, drag our boat over beaver dams, portage up and down slippery trails and sleep most nights under the stars.

A prior trip resulted in a leadership article. Seems nature can offer insights on many aspects of life. This trip was no exception:

*Necessity IS the mother of creativity.  A small piece of yellow rubber tubing from an exercise band replaced the lost showerhead on our solar shower water bag. I teased our friend, Tom, when he threw the band into his Duluth pack.  Boy, was I wrong.  What can you look at—with different eyes—that might solve a problem?

*If the wind is at your back, make the most of it.  On the few occasions the fierce wind shifted, I discovered that a raised paddle blade, turned to catch wind, acted as a mini sail, driving us more quickly across the open water. Yes, it was also necessity!If you have momentum, how can you make more of it?

*Expended energy demands refueling to keep going.  Ziploc bags of nuts, fruit and M&Ms became essential when we’d slow down.  Even the birds in these waters are constantly looking to refuel. During breeding season, a pair of loons can consume 2,000 pounds of fish. That might also explain why I never caught any!  Do you stop and refuel when your body needs it?

*Everything works better when the team is in synch. Our friends in the other canoe often seemed to move more quickly then we did.  Then I realized: their paddle strokes were in synch.  Plus, Tom sat in the bow and his stronger paddling made up for the times when Pam stopped paddling to steer the boat.  Ummm—now that’s not only synchronization of action but also a synchronization of talent.  Are you in synch with your team and playing to your strengths?

*You can only leave “home” if a champion stays behind. This trip would not have happened without my sister Susan, a champion of great ability and strength.  She moved into our house to oversee the care of Mom, thus allowing us to journey into the wilderness.  Who tends your home or work place so you can venture forth into new territory?

Postscript: We are venturing into new territory for the month of September. My champion, my ever-stalwart operations manager, Bonnie Davis, will monitor the office. Actually, she’ll be monitoring it from a trip to Scotland while we explore Milan, Lake Como, Budapest, Prague and the Danube.  Technology does allow connections. Be warned though, my goal is to stay as untethered as possible so I can find new lessons without the ping of email.


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Eileen McDargh Keynote Speaker Blog Author

About Eileen!

Since beginning her consulting and training practice in 1980, Eileen has become noted for her ability to speak the truth with clarity, wisdom, humor and compassion. Long-standing clients and repeat engagements attest to her commitment to make a difference in minds, hearts and spirits of organizations and individuals. She draws upon practical business know-how, life's experiences and years of consulting to major national and international organizations that have ranged from global pharmaceuticals to the US Armed Forces, from health care associations to religious institutions. Executive Excellence magazine selected her as one of the top 100 thought leaders in leadership and among the top ten consultant providers of leadership development.

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