Shrub plants and tree

Surviving a crisis… how the plant Kingdom can help you thrive

You can’t deny that 2020 has been a crisis of a year. 

No one looking back at New Year’s Eve 2019/2020 would have expected the upheaval the world has experienced: the Covid 19 pandemic, devastating fires across the globe, political unrest, racism, riots, ‘murder hornets’, climate disasters, the loss of beloved public figures, financial crashes. 

Yet, opportunity has also been able to be found this year. The opportunity to actively find the positive and the good in the world, in little moments and big ones. The opportunity to go deep and look inside to see how you can still grow and flourish despite the obstacles. The opportunity for you to be an innovative and conscious leader in a time screaming out for them. 

I won’t deny that at times this year, I’ve experienced the anxiety and low vibrational energy that the rest of the world has felt. 

So as I regularly do, I’ve turned to my plant friends in these times. It’s such an ingrained habit in me. And, as I regularly am, I’m struck by the lessons provided to us by the Plant Kingdom in a crisis. 

Crisis Guidance from Pioneer Species

You know I am a big fan of pioneer species. These are species that first come up in an area after a fire or deforestation. I usually talk about pine trees, but instead I would like to share how shrubs have really inspired me in moments of difficulty.

Shrubs seem like an unlikely pioneering species. Most people just think of kinas weeds that come up in barren land, when instead they carry out a very important function. Most shrubs reproduce quite quickly. Kin’s seeds are often dispersed by wind and can grow in poor soil conditions under the harsh sun. Plus, kin grow relatively fast and require little water. Perfect for when an area suddenly finds itself with no tree canopy in dry, hot climates.

These shrubs create shade for seedlings, kin’s bushy bodies also create conditions at the base with lower air and soil temperatures and higher water levels. Plus, kin capture windblown objects, like twigs and leaves, which drop to the surface. As these decompose, they turn into potassium which helps the little seedlings retain water during dry periods.

Going into Lockdown

During COVID-19, my nucleo home went into lockdown (we’re in another one as I write). I live with about 20 people, including children, in a community region with more than 70 people. A large number of these people found themselves suddenly without an income or with children at home every day.

As I sat there thinking about how to balance my needs with the needs of my house and regional community, I kept going back to the shrub. COVID exposed everyone to harsh conditions. So the first thing to do was to create a cover to help protect from too much sunlight. This meant protecting the mothers who suddenly found themselves without childcare, yet still had work or other situations to take care of. It also meant taking care of the elderly. Or in the case of my home, those sick, in a way that was sustainable for everyone.

The next phase was to create a nutrient rich soil. Being someone with online experience, I went about sharing elements that could nourish those that needed to pivot their businesses. In order to have a healthy economy for everyone, it made sense for me to balance my time between tending to my own clients and helping people in my house learn how to take their businesses online.

In the short term, I used my own personal resources (software accounts, organizational skills, business materials) to accommodate them. And in the middle-term, we all won because they were able to more quickly get a new income stream up and running. Most of this was done by doing some things myself while they learned how the online world works. I dropped knowledge in bite-sized chunks that they could convert into the information they needed for their businesses. I did not personalize my knowledge just for them. Instead did some stuff for them and shared what they could do in order not to lose their existing client base while they transitioned. 

In other words, I became a nurse shrub for members of my home. This translated to less income loss and more solidarity overall.

Learning from plants in a crisis

Humans and plants certainly don’t naturally react the same way in a crisis. Plants are not subject to the emotional reactions humans have. (those darn pesky emotions). Kin use plant logic to adapt to a crisis and changing circumstances more impartiallythan humans can. For plants, the goal is evolution and survival. So kin are apt at conserving energy while considering what’s changed. Then look at how to use the new landscape and resources it offers to not just survive, but thrive. When kin do this well, plants use the change to create new conditions. Often times, these are of more benefit then the previous ones. 

That’s not to say that humans can’t learn how to behave the same way as a plant does in a crisis… and thrive through it. It just takes us longer at times to work out how

If you examine how your own personal habits and logic affect your response to a crisis, would you say they were effective or beneficial to yourself or your greater community? If you try to react quickly without a deep understanding of the possible effects of your behaviors, could it be that your reactions aren’t optimal? 

By mirroring the plant world’s ability to slow down and consider your new circumstances before reacting, you realize that you can use the behavior of nature to influence how consciously and effectively you respond to a crisis. 

By doing so, you create your own new conditions to share with your personal ecosystem for their benefit as well. 

The best way to ensure your survival is to have a survival plan.

So while you might not have a crystal ball that tells you exactly what’s going to happen so that you can create a specific plan, you can have models to refer to if a crisis occurs. That’s what you can learn from plants!

A nature-inspired way of being prepared for a crisis is to simply spend time outside. Observe and look to understand the various functions plants carry out so you can readily implement their wisdom when you need to. 

You know that nature journal I keep encouraging you to have? This is when it becomes super useful. 

  • Every time you go out and record what you see in sketches, relationships, and actions, you go deeper. You start to delve into the various relationships plants have and how those contribute to the overall ecosystem.
  • Another idea is to examine your own responses to previous unexpected events. How you might be able to change these responses in the future? Journaling is a great exercise to help with this. I find journaling outside while I’m connecting with nature really beneficial. In this way, I use both my logical and non-logical mind. I integrate the whispers of the plant alongside their physical functions to get a more complete understanding of what is going on.

The next time you’re facing a crisis, before just acting for the sake of taking action, I invite you to consider the humble shrub. How can you consciously and calmly utilize the resources you have available, in a timely manner, to provide shelter, encourage the production of new nutrients, and create a lasting, positive impact that ensures you and your ecosystem thrive, not just survive?

Tigrilla is a Nature-Inspired Leadership Mentor and World Ambassador for the Plant Kingdom. She helps leaders achieve personal and professional success by integrating nature-inspired innovation in order to bring meaning to Life and make an impact with work.

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