How to be a natural problem solver….

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“Every problem we have, nature has already solved” Janine Benyus author of  Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature.

It was while I was hiking Aziscohos Mountain when I had what I call a “Divine Download”…. an idea that struck out of nowhere – a thought that pulled at my heart and made me say “Oh my God! Why didn’t I think of this before?!”  Once at the summit, I pulled my journal from my pack and feverishly jotted down the idea so it wouldn’t be lost on this mountain.  I call it Mountain Magic – the Divine Download that I am blessed to receive when I take the time away from my office and in the woods.    I am convinced that the further away you are from a problem, is where you will find the solution.

There are several physiological and neurological reasons why activity helps stimulate thought processes and brings clarity and sharpness.  A 2008 study published in the journal Psychological Science (PDF) shows that there are definite cognitive benefits to spending some time interacting with nature.

With a problem-solving resource that is so readily available and attainable as a walk in nature, why do we spend our time in boardrooms hashing out problems over 4-hour meetings, pots of coffee, and boxes of donuts?  Why do we insist on banging our heads on our desks when the answers are right outside our doors?  Somehow, we have gotten away from the primitive problem-solving techniques our ancestors have used for centuries.   Hemingway, Thoreau, Wordsworth, and Longfellow have all praised walking for clearing their minds and souls to create some greatest literary works of all time.

So – how can you become a natural problem solver?

Put some distance between you and the problem:  Solvitur Ambulando – A Latin phrase translated to “It is solved by walking.”  Next time you find yourself spinning your wheels – get up, get out of doors, and out of your head.  Set an intention as you head out saying “The answer will find me” and just start walking.  Try not to ruminate about the issue as you walk – note your surroundings.  Look at the trees, listen to the birds, notice the sky, and the animals or even just focus on the sound of your feet hitting the ground.  Stay in the moment and trust the answer will find you.

Take your mind for a walk:  Unable to get outside because it is pouring, snowing like mad, or you are in a city environment that is less than soothing?  Take your mind for a walk – it won’t know the difference.  Put on nature sounds on Spotify – close your eyes, and imagine yourself walking your favorite trail.  Permit yourself to stay in the vision for at least 5-10 minutes or until you feel restored.

Plan a retreat or sabbatical:  Got a big problem that one walk won’t solve?  Take some time away in a natural setting.  Decide if you need solitude or sisterhood (or brotherhood).  Leave phones, laptops, and electronics at home.  Don’t have time to spend a whole weekend away?  Even a half a day to a day unplugged in the woods pr a park can do your soul some good.  Set an intention for your retreat – in writing – for what you would like to resolve.  Trust the Universe to deliver it to you in its own time.  Be patient, and know when you are ready for the answer, it will come.

How you can Blaze some Trails:  When you find yourself with a problem that seems daunting or has you scratching your head, grab your hiking boots or sneakers and head outside.  Let me know how it goes and what solutions find you!

Until then,
Hit the Heights!

Priscilla Hansen Mahoney
Business Leadership Guide

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Business Coach for Contractors

Business Coach for Contractors and Founder of Blazing Trails Coaching I help my clients “get out of their pickup trucks and on top of their businesses.” I specialize in working with skilled-trades business owners to help them streamline processes, train leaders, engage employees, and make their businesses efficient and profitable.