What image comes to mind when you think of taking action? Newton’s laws? Gears in machines? Someone intently focused on a task?
How about plants? Yes, they seem simple and slow but action doesn’t need to be flashy to be effective.
Look at us humans, we’re more animated than plants but they’ve been around for millions of years before we arrived. Forms of life that have been around for that long are doing something right and there’s something we can learn from them. Many ancient philosophers studied nature and her creations to model their own lives.
Below we’ll look at three lessons nature can teach you on taking action:
1. A sunflower’s direction
The journey of a plant seed starts in the darkness below the ground surface. After tasting its first drops of water, it’s aided by a hormone called auxin to peek out the soil by moving in the direction of the sun, like a compass set on True North.
Some species, like the sunflower, will keep track of this True North by bending towards the sun until it sets. It will then turn eastwards so that it can catch the sun rise again the next day.
The True North in our own lives is the direction which will bring the highest short-term and long-term gain in our pursuits. Plants can get by with a few goals in life: sunlight, water, minerals etc. But you on the other hand are pulled by a limitless number of competing desires, and by choosing one you cut off all the other options.
The solution is to create a long term life direction or goal which can guide you over long periods of time. This will give you something solid to base your decisions over the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, and help you create consistency to achieve long term-term goals.
“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.”
2. A roots stability
Plants gain stability from their roots. Some even stabilize soil and prevent erosion on steep gradients.
Depending on the species and the type of soil they’re in, plant roots vary in how wide and deep they’ll grow. Most only grow a few feet. But some tree researchers have discovered roots growing as far below as 174 feet (53 meters).
Plant roots are like the stability you feel in the environment you’re in – your competence in business, confidence in social life, or skill in keeping physically fit. This stability is affected by your level of certainty. And when your uncertainty rises it becomes harder to take action because we spend more time worrying about what can go wrong.
The solution is to strip ignorance away by learning how the world works. Unlike plants which grow their roots slowly and automatically, you have power over the rate and depth at which you grow your understanding of the world. You can read more books, listen to more audios, and watch more videos in less time than you’re used to.
The more you understand how things work, the more stable and certain you become when taking action towards life goals.
3. A flytraps potential
The venus flytrap is a patient plant. It waits and, like a capacitor, it builds potential energy in its convex-shaped lobes which have small, sensitive hairs that respond to touch. The plant is designed this way to release its built up energy to catch unsuspecting insects in under a second.
Just like this plant, you grow potential energy over time, not by sitting around but by gaining knowledge.
But harnessing your potential is useless if it’s not converted. The reason flytraps build their energy is to survive. They take action when they sense an opportunity arising. The main reason to gather knowledge is to leverage it in achieving your goals to live a better life, not to become book smart.
Life is sprinkled with opportunities and many times you’ll need to have prepared yourself for them by gathering certain skills and knowledge. The next step is converting that potential into mechanical energy by acting on the opportunity. This is how we increase the returns of the knowledge we’ve gained.
“To reach your greatest potential, you’ll have to fight your greatest fears.”
Besides satisfying our hunger or desire to see beauty in nature, plants can give us new perspectives to use in life. Creating direction and stability isn’t easy.
The same goes with spotting and acting on opportunities before they disappear. But with consistency, the natural long-term result is an overall improvement in all three.