Leadership Lessons From Trees

Recently, we had the privilege of witnessing another transformational week in the lives of the leaders we are developing, which in turn, transformed us, as well. The power of reciprocity in action – we touch their lives, they touch ours. Magical. My dream job.

We were staying in a beautiful eco lodge in the middle of the rainforest in India, where we slept and worked in tree houses. We were completely immersed in nature, as raw as it can get – with the added bonus of sleeping in cozy beds, enjoying hot water and delicious local food.

When the program team first saw photos of the venue, months ago, we loved the pictures. It all looked so perfect and tidy. But when we arrived, we saw it was not as flawless as in the pictures – some cracks here and there, some scruffy marks and crooked boards. Nature was not as picture-perfect as we thought, yet it was still nature, still real, still powerful.

The first insight came to me: up close things always look different than from a distance, or in pictures. It might seem that they are not as beautiful at first glance, but it is those “imperfections”, those cracks here and there, that make things authentic. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, people say. Well, I realized that some of us might have a bias beholding beauty, and that bias can make us overlook authentic beauty. What can be more beautiful than authenticity? It is so rare – not everyone offers it, not everyone values it. Oh wait, am I talking about people now?

The tree houses were truly unique; many of us slept deeply like we hadn’t done in ages and started our days well-rested. The houses were built respecting the landscape and nature surrounding them, beautifully integrating the house structures into the scenery. Inside, the houses were warm and comfortable. The interior decoration reflected the theme and feel of rustic nature. The views were spectacular, the sunrises and sunsets were glorious. The moon and stars shined brightly every night. A warm bonfire allowed us to stay outdoors a bit longer and enjoy the star gazing. Going from one house to another was an amazing experience, walking through the forest on elevated plank bridges. And the trees were always with us, creating this beautiful scenery, attracting butterflies and birds, sheltering us from the hot sun, giving us the gift of fresh air.

Another insight came to me: I believe every creature on our planet has a purpose, and it might be that the purpose of the trees is to hold it all together for us when we can’t do it on our own. To remind us to pause and catch our breath when we need to. To protect our wildest dreams under their strong sturdy branches. They remind us to just be. Stop working hard, stop trying hard, just stay still and be.

During the week our participants embraced every moment with open hearts and minds, they shared with each other; they connected, they reflected, absorbed tons of information, and put into practice as much as they could. The highlight at the end of the week was to watch them present their insights about a local business challenge they had been introduced to earlier during the week. They used all the knowledge, skills and tools they have been given during the last seven months of the program. All the while, still being their unique selves, true to their own styles, growing more comfortable in their own skins. Wow, what a proud moment! I think the trees around us helped, their quiet stillness was the support we all needed to allow ourselves to flow with nature, and to embrace the intensity of this week where magic happened again.

In December, as part of our year-end celebration, GAIA Insights launched an initiative in support of a special cause: helping WeForest plant trees in Brazil. We shared it with our community through our Season’s Greetings message. We are proud to share with you that WeForest is able to plant 2000 trees, thanks to all of you who participated and donated your time and money!

Let’s keep in mind that trees are essential to all life on our planet, that without them we have no oxygen to breathe. And that they do not complain, they do not fight back, they do not scream. Instead, they stand tall, patiently waiting for us to listen to their subtle constant message – learn to be silent, learn to stay still and learn to just be.

What about you? What lessons have you learned from trees? What insights have you had while being surrounded by nature? We would love to hear your thoughts! Please share them with us on transforming.leaders@gaia-insights.com

If you want to know more about The Machan, the tree house resort we stayed in: https://www.themachan.com/index.php

Authored by Valeria Torino, Program Mentor at GAIA Insights

If you are curious to learn more about GAIA Insights, read about the world we’re dreaming of at www.gaia-insights.com/why