Rainforest Business: Lessons from Nature

blog_bev_panamaThere’s nothing like being seen at your worst with a group of business compadres to cement friendships. I’m not referring to an outburst of anger or unruly behavior. I’m talking about being physically challenged to the point where you look like you’ve been used up, run over and then drowned. Team building at its finest – an unforgettable experience that I eagerly signed up for and would do so again in a heartbeat.

I interrupt my regular posts pertaining to leadership, social media and communication skills to bring you a travel tale.

Rainforest Business: Lessons from Nature

Several Junes ago, I took a trip to Central America as part of my certification as a business coach. The principles of success in business have a lot in common with the laws of nature. As an entrepreneur and trainer who majored in Ornamental Horticulture in college, this was strategic in converging my unique interests in a practical way.

Rather than give you lessons on why the fantastic ecosystem of the Rainforest is a model for business growth, today. let’s talk adventure…

The most amazing day of my trip to Panama began early in the morning with a hike into the Rainforest. I riverwas spellbound by the vivid lessons on parasites, pathogens, the life cycle, fungigation, competition and principles that are clearly applied to business and life.

Being a Floridian, I was acclimated to the heat and humidity but was still a bit distracted by the sweat factor. We’d been advised to wear clothes that dry quickly and I had erroneously assumed that was because of expected rain. I was soaked long before the downpour.

Next, we piled into a van to venture to another rainforest in the country’s interior. Panama is about the size of S. Carolina but is only 115 miles across at its widest point. We were met by a small group of indigenous Embera Indians and clambered into their dugout canoes (after sliding down the riverbank at breakneck speed) for a trip up the Chagres river.canoe

After a bit, we arrived at a sandy, shallow area and our fit,fast guides led us into the forest on foot. We hiked along a creek bed, sometimes needing to be in the creek itself, because the rainforest is literally an impenetrable barrier right down to the rivers and creeks. You’d have to have a machete to venture even 3 feet into the bush and that is prohibited since the Rainforests are now protected in Panama. I didn’t see much more than my feet and the river rocks during that hike since it took all of my concentration to stay ON my feet. It was slippery and uneven all the way back to a beautiful waterfall which formed an inviting, cold pool. I didn’t have to think twice about jumping in. We all acted like a bunch of kids at summer camp – without the rules. Talk about the break that refreshes!

As we headed back, the rains began. Sheets of rain. I’m talking a torrential downpour that lasted for hours. (The average annual rainfall is 100 inches). I found out why they’d recommended a hat as we made our way along in the boat. I used my cap to keep the water out of my eyes so I could see the sharp lightning popping in the sky. The Indian guides seemed unconcerned and I determined that since I’d lived through many similar events on the Econfina Creek at home (in an aluminum canoe at that) that I’d be fine.

lunchinleavesWe were taken to the Indian village for lunch. We climbed a ladder to enter their gathering hut which was built entirely from a palm tree. The floor was very springy and looked as if it couldn’t possible hold all of our party. They build up off the ground for three main reasons: snakes, insects and rain. All very good reasons to trust the floor would hold me.

Our first course for lunch was large platters of watermelon, pineapple and papaya. Then came the main course; fried plantains and fish (Talapia fresh from the Chagres river).

Served in beautiful leaves – the Indians mastered “eco-friendly” long before the term was invented.

After lunch, we went to another covered hut with a dirt floor for the dancing. We all got in the act before it was said and done. In the spirit of the day, I got my first tattoo. Okay, so it was a temporary one made from natural dyes- no needles for me.dance_indianvillage

By the time they ran us back up the river to the very rough point of embarkation, I was enthralled, exhausted and exhilarated, all at the same time.baby_hammock

If this little guy’s hammock would have held me, I might have climbed in.

If I get on a roll and go with this theme, I could talk for hours about Rainforest Business Strategies. Instead, I’ll put a stake down with the hopes you got a peek at the wonders of the Rainforest through my narration and photos taken with a cheap, disposable camera.

I love to travel, learn, make new friends and have fun in the name of business. Have you found a way to do all that too? Do tell…

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.~Saint Augustine

2 thoughts on “Rainforest Business: Lessons from Nature”

  1. Beverly
    Thank you for sharing your experience at the Rainforest on your trip to Panama. I loved the photos and your description made me feel like I was with you as I sit in front of the computer nice and dry.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Beverly Lewis

    A warm thanks for sharing in the adventure. I’ve recently read a book that combines concepts of Macroecomics with the Rainforest model. You’ll be hearing more about that.

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