Trees as Teachers

We all have things that change our lives. People, videos, events, and so on.

Well, there is a book about trees that has changed the way I look, think, and operate in the world. I read it often and refer to it as “the tree book.”

Some of you are probably giggling? And I get it. But I’m dead serious. There is no punch line here. 

Peter Wohlleben is a German forester and he wrote “the tree book” and it’s called “The Hidden Life of Trees.” It’s remarkable. It’s rather short and full of so much knowledge. And not just about trees.

Have you ever heard someone claim that trees are brilliant? If not, you have now. They are so smart. They’ve adapted to survive in an almost unbelievable way. How they interact with one another is nothing short of amazing.

Students at the Institute for Environmental Research discovered something amazing about photosynthesis in undisturbed beech forests. The trees synchronize their performance so they are equally successful. Not like one would expect because the trees grow in unique locations and the conditions vary greatly in just a few yards. The soil can retain different amounts of water so each tree experiences different growing conditions. Therefore, they will grow more quickly or slowly and produce more or less sugar than their neighbor. So you would expect every tree to be photosynthesizing at different rates. 

But they don’t, they are synthesizing at the same rate. This equalization happens underground in the roots where water and sugars are exchanged with others that need it for their growth and health to be the same. 

Why? Simply, to ensure other members of their “society” don’t fall too far behind.

And all of this is done in silence. It just happens.

We can apply this to the well-being of our forests – families, businesses, and communities. 

Individuals mature at different rates. We need to take note of the different needs others have to ensure the well-being of our “forests.” 

We can behave like trees to ensure our collective communities are healthy.

At work, we can observe what others need to help contribute to the betterment of our teams. We can pick up the slack of others.

At home, we can ask our spouses what they need and how we can supplement where they are struggling.

Everyone wants to contribute to the betterment of their community. 

And just like the trees, we are only as great as our weakest link. 

If you want to be the best, look at trees to teach us how to flourish.

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