Suffering stresses and strains? You’re working against your natural system, not with it

In Change, Leadership, Nature

Working with nature

They’re cutting the meadow outside my balcony window today.  And aside from the deafening noise of 3 strimmers going, there’s a good reason for them doing this: it prevents the forest creeping back in.  The reason they cut the meadow is to prevent trees and scrub from taking hold.  And they only do it once a year at this time as it’s the minimum intervention they need do for the results they want. They understand the natural system and work with it.

You see, the village I live in in the Alps is nestled in a forest that covers the mountain sides up to about 1800m in altitude (I live at about 1000m).  If there’s a gap in the forest, nature quickly fills it up with more forest.

There is no thought on nature’s part by this.  It’s just the way it works naturally.  And it’s incredibly efficient, requiring the least amount of resources to sustain and develop.  And were it not for man’s intervention with the strimming machines (!!!), in less than 20 years, there would be forest growing up around the building I live in.

And what people forget is that man inadvertently arrests the development of man.  Change and progress and development are natural characteristics for the survival of man.  Preventing this, aside from taking incredible amounts of energy, prevents progress and sustainability.  How many people in organisations are experiencing stress, frustration, increasingly lower performance, spending time and energy on endless reviews, strategies and meetings?

I see it in organisations.  The incredible amount of energy that is spent on either preventing change, or worse, managing change.  As if change is something to manage or could be managed.  Change is a natural consequence of sustainability

The desire to intervene in this process – without any understanding of the human operating system they are dealing with only exacerbates problems, and creates more friction.

It’s a bit like holding a bungee cord, and trying to stretch it further and further.  The more you pull, the harder and more energy it takes to stretch it further.  And the ultimate consequence?  When you run out of energy, when you burn out, it resets anyway.  But with one hell of a pull back!

So why with all the resistance?  It’s much easier and takes much less energy when you go with how a system works naturally, rather than against it.

When I first studied ecology and how to manage habitats, the first rule we were taught was to “do nothing”.  That is, until you fully understand a system, never intervene or interfere.  Otherwise, you will suffer the law of un-intended consequences.  At best you won’t make an impact, or at worse, the problem will only get bigger and seem insurmountable.

And how do you know when you understand how a system works?  Easy, you get results with the least amount of time and energy.   No stress, no strain, and plenty of gain.

And the human operating system is no different: act against it and you suffer the consequences: stress, fatigue, frustration, worry, anxiety and eventually burnout.  Yep, these are consequences of a mis-understanding of how people naturally operate.  And trying to overcome this by ‘efficiencies’ or strategies or processes, are all ways of trying to outsmart how you naturally operate.  And the result: more of the above.  This is called ‘coping’.  And there is no hope in cope.  Just more energy sapping initiatives and interventions that will never yield their promised effects.  How can they when they act against how people naturally operate?

You will self-correct.  It’s just a matter of time that the inevitable reset kicks in.  The sooner you stop trying to outsmart and second-guess how you naturally operate – the operating system of the human mind – the sooner all of the above starts to fade away.  There is nothing to overcome.

The question isn’t “how can I achieve more with less”, it’s actually “what’s the least amount of time and energy required to achieve this”.

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