The Nature of Child Leaders
The Nature of Child Leaders
by Jo Preston, November 2023
I didn’t foresee being a grandma given that I never had kids. But to my good fortune it happened (and I learned that grandkids don’t put the word “step” in front of grandma-that’s awesome). These children regularly remind me how important it is to get out of adult-itis occasionally. They are great at being fully present, always learning, playing, and speaking the truth. To be a child is to love nature in truly the most natural way.
What does nature need to thrive? It needs children to lead us.
Explore like a 6-year-old. My grandson will always ask to go on a nature walk when we’re together. He is a sponge for learning the names of things and exploring every leaf, bird, and bug. He’s closer to the ground; he can see things more clearly. Getting down there with him rekindles my curiosity about the natural world that I would otherwise stomp on.
I often come to the cushion this way, “stomping” through life, unaware, going about life disconnected and missing what’s right in front of me. There is more than one reason to get on the ground.
This child said recently, “There’s just a lot of things I don’t know.” Yeah, my feelings exactly. When I’m outside with kids I am more humbly curious, more observant, and more connected to the notion that nature thrives when we pay attention, when we remember that we are a part of nature, not apart from it.
Play like a 7-year-old. Grampa and I had lunch with our 7-year-old granddaughter at school this week and after lunch was a crazy activity I had almost forgotten about: RECESS. In the crisp autumn air, we jumped rope, hula-hooped, pushed swingers, ran – we moved our bodies right along with 2nd graders. When I went back to work that afternoon, I was energized. Our bodies thrive with movement and fresh air. For 20 minutes I forgot the problems of the world, and it made me feel more ready to tackle them. The Servant Leadership program my colleague recently completed shared the statistic that adults spend only about 15% of their time outside. That’s not enough.
Embrace change like a 9-year-old. The older granddaughter matter-of-factly starts off conversations about changes in her life and body with, “There’s just a lot going on!” And she dives right in. She hasn’t developed that adult habit of trying to force a status quo because kids do nothing BUT change on almost a daily basis in childhood. She already knows about refusing plastic and reducing landfill waste and caring for and speaking up for the planet. She reminds me to be courageous and less afraid to try.
How can we keep alive a sense of curiosity, energy, and adaptability to help nature thrive?
- Hang out with some little kids.
- Support IZL’s efforts to help us build our capacity to lead like enthusiastic kids
- Join us for the Master Class special series– “ZL: Alive off the Cushion”
The first session, compatible to this message, is “Integrating deep nature connection into Zen practice”
Jo Preston is a Zen Leadership Practitioner and FEBI Certified Coaches.
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