I was on my way to a wedding when I first pressed Play on my new Audible book. By the time I got to the venue an hour and a half later my mind was exploding. I vividly recall sliding into the pew next to my friend and saying, “If everyone would read this book and actually do what it said, it would change the world.”
That book was Brene Brown’s Braving the Wilderness. Audible had been featuring it in my recommended list for weeks and I finally was able to dig in. Brene’s wisdom and how to’s on building trust, belonging, and connection are more than sorely needed in this season. I’m clearly not the only one who thinks so as it’s a New York Times Bestseller.
As soon as I finished it, I wanted to dive back in. I also knew I needed some time to process and let my little gray cells connect all the dots. I was out of Audible credits so I pulled up a book I’d already read, Greg McKeown’s Essentialism, another NYT Bestseller.
I love listening to his wonderful British accent, but I especially love his message: How to find your Point of Highest Contribution and structure your life to do it and nothing else. I learn something new each time I dig in.
I was about two-thirds of the way through when lightning struck the cranium, dots began to connect, and a rabbit hole emerged.
What if we took Brene Brown’s message and married it to Greg McKeown’s methodology?
What if we made belonging and connection our relational points of highest contribution, and structured our lives to make them all but automatic?
That would change the world.
I didn’t just follow the rabbit down this hole, I dove, and the world I discovered is far more amazing than Alice’s Wonderland could ever dream of being.
One of my discoveries is that the reason Braving the Wilderness and Essentialism are best sellers is because belonging, connection, and contribution are deep human needs. And the reason these needs resonate so deeply in us is because they are echoes of the fundamental principles, the essential truths, of way things work in Nature.
You see, everything in Nature belongs. There is nothing extra, no holes, no waste. Everything has a purpose and a place.
Everything in Nature is connected. From the smallest, simplest of systems to large and complex ecosystems to the whole of life on earth, every part influences some other part. It all works together.
Everything in Nature has a contribution to make. Every part receives from the system and contributes back to it, each in its own unique way.
If you’ve ever seen Disney’s The Lion King (either the original 1994 animated version or the 2019 live action) you’ve seen the scene where King Mufasa is showing his son, Simba, the kingdom that will one day be his. He gives this guidance:
Mufasa: Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect the creatures, from the crawling ant, to the leaping antelope.
Simba: But Dad, don’t we eat the antelope?
Mufasa: Yes, Simba, but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass, and so we are all connected in the great circle of life.
“All connected in the great circle of life.” Let’s ponder that a moment.
Human beings are part of the circle of life, although we focus more on being the top of the food chain than part of the circle. Both aspects are true, but our emphasis on one over the other has skewed our sense of self-importance.
If we would stop looking from above it all to within it all, from focusing on our narrow pedestal to paying attention to the whole system, we would be able to see the fundamental truths of ourselves in relation to all of Nature, and we would rediscover some amazing things we’ve forgotten.
We are connected.
We have unique contributions to make.
It doesn’t matter if we feel like we do or not, if we see it or not. The fact is we do, we are, and we do, because that’s the way things work on planet Earth. Belonging, connection, and contribution are the default. Any other option is impossible.
That’s the Truth.
But wait, there’s more.
Human beings have something no other part of Nature has: the ability to choose. No other life form has that dignity, or responsibility. The way it looks to me, humans have been choosing our own nature versus all of nature for a long time.
Embrace these truths. Pursue belonging, connection, and contribution, not only with your fellow humans, but in the context of all of Nature, all of Life.
Then find out where, how, and when.
Where are all the places I belong?
How can I best be connected?
What is my unique contribution, or contributions?
Perhaps most importantly, when can I get started finding out?
It can be right now. It can be a year from now. It can be never. It’s your choice.
Pursuing these truths of Nature will challenge and grow you in more ways than you can know right now. It’s a journey. Simple, but not easy. Process, not quick fix.
Why not start now? Pay attention. Ponder. Pursue.
Then let me know how it’s going and how I can help.
It’s not only Brene Brown and Greg McKeown who can make unique contributions that are changing the world.
You can, too.
Applying nature's principles and systems to personal and cultural development.
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