Nature’s Lessons For Modern Society And The Corporate World

Posted by Ranjeet Menon in Society
December 8, 2017

There is a very good reason as to why we are causing mayhem in the world. We no longer feel the need to fit into the realm of nature.

Two things are happening as we continue to evolve away from nature. We are no longer understanding and learning from nature, and we are losing our survival instincts. The problem with this is that we are still a part of nature’s ecosystem – and though we have built our matrices, our roots are still buried in nature. What we are not realising is that, if interpreted correctly, there are reasons and solutions in nature for everything we experience in our modern, urban lives.

Consider this – traditional martial art forms such as kung-fu evolved, supposedly from the observation of the movements of animals such as snakes, monkeys, tigers and cranes. But as our society moved past the Renaissance, it seems that many of us also stopped observing and learning from nature.

Aren’t we bored and tired of our monotonous 5-day weeks in the corporate world? Then, head out to a lake or a water-body – where there are cormorants, darters or terns and observe them catching fishes. Most of the time they dive into the water, they come up with nothing. When they do catch a fish, the fish often slips out and escapes. How many times do they need to keep repeating this to find enough food to satiate their hunger, every single day?

We have a lot to learn from birds, even in the 21st century. (Representative image. Photo by Manoj Kumar/Hindustan Times)

There are no weekends in nature. What if they thought that this was boring and monotonous? What if they said that they had enough and that they wouldn’t be doing this anymore? They would perish in hunger – as simple as that.

And people complain about not getting jobs and talk about retirement! There is no complaining and retirement in nature. Just one rule exists out there: try till you die, and die when you quit.

There is something very fascinating in nature we don’t reflect upon. Why is it so difficult to spot animals in the wild? It is because of the prey-predator relationship. Catching a prey depends on whether it is the predator sees its prey first, or the other way round.

What we often term as beauty in nature is actually camouflage – to hide or distract, be it from the prey or the predators. In my opinion, most things in nature try to hide themselves from one another, all the time. Lions are colour-blind – so, when zebras run together, lions do not have any visual sense of what’s happening around them. But, how do they still hunt down the zebras? Because they have heightened levels of their other senses.

What does this come down to? Nature always pushes the boundaries of every being in her ecosystem. Nothing comes easy. Every being has to be at the top of their game all the time to stay alive and for its species to survive. The primordial force of nature keeps pushing the limits of everything in it. This, in my opinion, is what propels evolution – every animal tries to evolve continuously to be a dominant species.

Even something as ‘natural’ as a lion hunting down a zebra has profound, survival lessons for us. (Image Source: YouTube)

How does all of this translate into our lives? For wildlife photographers, they have to stay ahead of all these hide-and-seek games in nature to get great pictures. There are three aspects to getting great wildlife photographs: spotting the subject, anticipation and hand-eye coordination.

Apply this for the Agile methodology – the management practice that has taken over almost all industries. Whenever I hear or think about Agile, what comes first to my mind is the image of a tiger. Agile methodology is not just about doing things faster. After all, why is Agile predominantly a product-based methodology? Because it is essentially about spotting those little opportunities in the market – anticipating which way the market conditions may swing, what customers may need and getting the products out into the market accordingly.

And this is exactly how tigers or other predators hunt in the wild. Be it in nature’s jungle or the concrete jungle, success has the same underlying roots. The change management principle of focusing on small wins, consolidating them and targeting bigger goals is a lesson that comes right from nature.

What has changed about us is that we have evolved into the beings of a complex cooperative society. In this transformation, it is our survival skills that have been affected the most. A support system gets built around every individual from where we get help whenever we need it. The size of the support system depends on our needs and what we can give to the society.

Social media networks are all examples of such systems. This highly-interconnected way of living reduces our need for survival skills. This, I believe, has been the biggest liability of becoming intelligent beings. Our needs have grown exponentially, which, in turn, has raised the bar of our desires. With our waning survival skills, when life becomes difficult, we often become frustrated and start feeling helpless, turn to gods and eventually to superstition.

In my opinion, no other being in nature believes in getting help from a higher power to succeed. Every animal believes in its own skills and abilities to survive. This is why in highly competitive market conditions, mere skills and abilities do not take us far – it is our contacts in the ‘favours-based’ society that help us get ahead.

But, there is an anomaly here. A lower number of surviving skills should ideally make us less competitive – but the reverse is happening. Urban life has become a mighty arena for wealth-based competition. We are vying to buy bigger and more expensive houses, cars, gadgets and an infinite number of assortments. This is an endless pit – and once we fall into it, we spend our entire lives chasing after more wealth to keep buying newer and supposedly-better things. Think about the iPhone and all its die hard fans who live in queues for days outside Apple stores to buy the newest versions.

How can nature help us cope up with the daily pressures and struggles of a hectic and competitive corporate life? (Photo by Priyanka Parashar/Mint via Getty Images)

Our status in society (built around wealth) mandates that we keep chasing after wealth and riches all the time. Businesses are thriving with marketing strategies fine-tuned to exploit this wealth-based competition to the hilt. But, wealth is a commodity – and acquiring wealth is not a skill. It is all about exploiting the needs of our fellow beings.

In my opinion, a great example of this is the real estate industry. Buy land at lower costs and sell it for higher prices, based on demand. Most business models are built around understanding and exploiting people’s needs – going to the extent of creating new needs if they do not exist. This is something which, I believe, Apple epitomises.

Is there anything in our society that eggs us on to become better human beings? In my view, nothing. This means that we are not evolving and that we have stagnated. Technology has only made us dependent on it, and has not helped us become better beings.

Nature develops three critical aspects in every being for survival – patience, perseverance and resilience.  Nature teaches us to keep scouting for every opportunity, and keep doing the same things relentlessly till we succeed. It also teaches us to keep moving ahead in the face of every adversity.

Nature teaches us to appreciate every moment of our lives. We take time for granted – ours and everyone else’s. In nature, a momentary lapse is what stands between life and death. Nature sharpens our skills and abilities continuously, and keeps us ready to face the next challenges.

We need all of these – even if we are to live in the bubble we have created for ourselves. But we have made ourselves lethargic enough to choose the easy way out every time. No schools or universities can teach us nature’s lessons. In the extremely competitive world we live in, we need our fundamentals firmly in place. Only the eternal Mother can make us evolve into better beings.

A version of this post was first published on the author’s blog.

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Featured image used for representative purposes only.

Featured image source: Pexels