I’m currently on my annual trip to the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. The photo shown here is of Split Rock Lighthouse, a beautiful spot to visit if you’re not familiar with this part of the country!

The North Shore is my place to recenter and reflect in the arms of nature. I get to look at the vast lake – which the Ojibwe call Ojibwe Gichigami translated as “Ojibwe’s Great Sea” – with its infinite moods as I extend my viewing point towards the horizon. When I look at this giant body of water, I always think about how nature is always moving. The waves coming to the shore and the constant wind reinforce this lesson. The daily cycle of light and dark, the moon cycle, and the seasons cycling through each year also reinforce this lesson.

Nature, in fact, can’t stand the status quo.

Put simply, the movement we find in nature reflects the adaptive cycle designed to continually evolve our ecosystems. Nature understands that dying off may be part of a larger cycle that eventually creates space for new life in the forest.

On my drive up to the North Shore, I noticed a lot of birch trees that were dead or dying. This area is famous for the birch trees that are a big part of its forest ecosystem. There are a lot of great memories that people who live here have of birch trees. So, from our short-term view, we are mourning a painful loss. But Nature takes the long view of tree species in ecosystems. The adaptative cycle ensures that letting go of anything will trigger a release of resources that contribute to the next evolution of growth. Forest fires, for example, leave nitrogen in the soil and design seeds to open under intense heat, which fuels the next stage of growth.

On the other hand, people like the status quo

Humans are known for resisting change, which is another way of saying that people tend to like the status quo. We like predictability because it reflects a deeper worldview in which we control nature, our external environment, and our lives. When control seems possible, any change that causes a shift makes things less predictable and controllable. 

Over the past 20 months – and even before that –  I have worked with organizations that had to reinvent their business models.  They reached out to me because their current model was no longer keeping their organizations alive and well.

I have noticed the pivot to adapt and let go of their original business model has followed a pattern. First, they sought to control and double down on their “status quo.”  Then, there was a pattern of denial and even a feeling of victimization. Finally, they managed to pivot and began to creatively reimagine their business model.

We have seen a lot of change over the past 20 months and know that we are capable of it once we adapt and let go. Restaurants have expanded takeout and delivery services, and created new outdoor seating, for example. Companies have adapted their changed product lines, and programs. All this change reminds us that we are a part of nature. And that we have the capacity to live in and with constant movement. We just need to embrace our capacity – and a willingness –  to live this way.

What changes happen when we let go of the status quo?

People are part of nature and we’re designed just like ecosystems to move, adapt, and evolve. If we were able to embrace this side of our nature and let go of control and the “status quo”  what would change in our lives? Would we have less stress? I think when we try to control things around us, it makes us worry, spend energy, and create unnecessary stress over what is or isn’t cooperating with our need to control. 

As an exercise, ask yourself a few reflective questions:

  • What is your organization holding onto?
  • How are you (or your organization) spending energy and resources to control a specific outcome?
  • How would you evolve if you released your desire to have control over your life?