I once took a week-long canoe camping trip with several friends into the Boundary Waters Wilderness area of Northern Minnesota. I’d never gone camping for this long before and never in canoes either. With six people, three canoes, and several hundred pounds of gear, we set up and broke down camp four times in four separate locations. It was quite a unique adventure exploring many beautiful lakes. The silence was only punctuated by the wind, water, or the sounds of nature, barely seeing more than a dozen other humans during the entire journey, and swimming in the warm pristine waters at least twice a day.
There was one insight in particular that struck me about this trip that I thought might be of interest to you. And I have a sense that the deeper reflection required to write this article may benefit us both.
At every campsite we went to during this trip, though they were all quite different, our basic needs were always met. We always found adequately clear and level spots for our three tents, trees spaced just far enough apart to hang our hammock, a branch just the right distance from the group to hang our water filter and some kind of rock or cranny on the ground to stabilize a water bottle, just enough rocks of appropriate configuration to construct a counter of sorts next to our camping stove, trees we could use to hang a tarp, and the list goes on.
For many weeks after this trip, I found my attention returning to this phenomenon. I’m not sure why it struck me, as it’s not an entirely new idea, but I do think that we often overlook the resources we have right in front of us when constantly confronted with the noise, clutter, and pace of everyday life.
Further, it seems that living in a world where downsizing and doing more with less is the norm, a helpful reminder that there are always resources in our environments we are overlooking or not taking full advantage of, might be useful.
Apply awareness, intent, and patience making the most of what nature provides
With all that said, I’ve done my best to distill this idea of taking full advantage of what nature provides in the following few tips.
- Survey your environment for untapped resources. You might find existing resources you haven’t noticed as resources in the past. These may be objects, people, strengths, weaknesses, processes, efficiencies, delays, etc. How can we tap untapped resources? How might things seen as obstacles be eliminated or turned into resources? Example: Delay in completion of a product gives you the opportunity to consider how to increase its value or take advantage of a trend on the horizon.
- Re-purpose a current resource. How might people, products, and other material resources be modified to a greater or lesser extent such that they can serve a new or additional purpose? Example: Invite office receptionist to make social media postings in spare time.
- Look for repeating patterns. Nature tends to use the same kinds of basic structures and patters over and over again to create new and improved “products”. What useful patterns do you see in your environment that seem to repeat. How might you extend them further? What destructive patterns do you see? How might you alter, eliminate, or otherwise minimize their impact? Example: Employees consistently miss staff meetings. Decide to hold them less often or find more efficient ways to accomplish goal.
- Notice where you are looking for more. Our society is fixated on the idea that more money, resources, friends, relationships, resources, products, etc. is always best. We seldom look for the positive possibilities of actually reducing a resource. In a place where you’re looking to increase something, consider how decreasing something in its place might be useful. Example: recycling.
- Be patient with intent. In my experience, making wise use of what’s already available requires a combination of the following attributes: an unbiased awareness of what is, an unwavering intent to make positive use of what is, and a patient knowing that what’s needed will arise in due course.
I look forward to your insights, tips, or direct application of these insights in your workplace or life experience.
How might you apply, or have you applied these insights to your current life or work situation? Please share your questions, feedback, or experience in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you.