What Is Your “OM”?


The most thought-provoking talk I’ve seen all year – and it wasn’t at TED!

As many readers know, I am a big TED groupie, lover of the TED conferences and of all the little TEDx offspring.  But the best talk I’ve heard this year was not at a TED conference – it was at the Biomimicry Summit in Boston (see details here.  The gathering was a wonderful, tangible manifestation of the community that is growing around this field, where life’s principles – the fundamental rules that govern all of nature – are used as model, measure, mentor, and muse for all sorts of endeavors.

Dayna Baumeister’s closing speech at the conference was life-alteringly good – and I do not use those words lightly.  Her talk was courageous and personal, intellectually stimulating and deeply heartfelt.  I urge you to watch it in its entirety here.

I can’t do justice to the full arc of Dayna’s presentation, but one element especially stood out.  As she recently faced some of the most vital decisions a person could ever face, Dayna settled on three mantras (slightly paraphrased):

  • I am an individual.  I am not a box of statistics.
  • I will make no decision coming from fear.
  • I will not be limited by the confines of linear, industrial models.

These inspiring words have had me wondering, what is my mantra?  What are the guiding phrases that can keep me aiming towards my own True North?

One has come to me in question form, straight from my biomimicry studies, courtesy of Dayna and Janine Benyus:

What Would Nature Do?

This is such a provocative question – asking it at the crossroads of my decision-making has given me a great sense of clarity and ease.  What nature would do is tangible; it is observable all around us.  Perhaps that’s why a long walk can be the best remedy for writer’s block, or the best way to calm down after an anxious or angry encounter.

Nature is sustainable; it is geared to optimize; it is inherently connected and nuanced and regenerative.  And because of all those things, it is aligned with the deepest human wisdom, whether from philosophers or spiritual leaders or Indigenous communities.

Or perhaps they are aligned with Nature.

Either way, this has been a helpful mantra for me – even better than Springsteen lyrics or lines from Emerson, and that’s sayin’ something.   Hey, I know it’s late, but we can make it if we run.  Adopt the pace of Nature; her secret is Patience. Between the two of them, Bruce and Ralph cover a lot of bases.

What would Nature Do?

That’s my mantra. What’s yours?

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