Last week’s Blog Post “Are you in a tight spot?” explores the idea that leaders can regulate their anxiety by becoming better observers of “self”.

Nature is a lens through which leaders can better come to see themselves.

“We regard the Human as the most important form of life on earth, the crowning achievement of God’s creation. Exaggerating our importance in this way has hampered our ability to see the extent to which the human is related to all life.” Dr. Michael Kerr

Viewing the human as related to all forms of life enables leaders to learn from all forms of life. The human can come to better see self by observing the forces that drive functioning in nature.

For example, what can the leader of a family business learn through the study of communication networks between trees?

Scientists have discovered that trees communicate with each other through underground mycorrhizal networks and above-ground chemical signals. Big old trees — dubbed ‘mother trees’ — play a key role in supporting other trees in the forest, especially their offspring.

“If you’re a mother and you have children, you recognise your children and you treat them in certain ways. We’re finding that trees will do the same thing. They’ll adjust their competitive behavior to make room for their own kin and they send those signals through mycorrhizal networks. Dr. Suzanne Simard

The drive to remove competitive barriers for our kin is alive and well in nature. These same forces are alive and well in humans. Unlike trees, up and coming non-kin talent within a family business is free to move to a different forest that better recognizes these forces and creates space for growth.

The human is subject to the “physical forces” that keep the universe in balance. We believed for centuries that the stars and planets revolved around the earth, that we were the center of the universe. We are still subject to the force of gravity, but it no longer prevents us from reaching the moon.

What heights might we reach through a better understanding of the “life forces” that drive the functioning of all creatures on earth?

What outdated beliefs do we hold that prevent us from seeing ourselves as we really are?

What can we really know about ourselves?

Next week we will see the forest through the family trees.