Nature as Career Educator

“Nature is my manifestation of God.  I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day’s work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain.”        –Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect & Designer                                      

Those who know me also know I can walk in the woods for hours on end, pausing every ten minutes or so to observe the shape of tree or the way sunlight reflects off a pond. I have felt a deep and abiding connection with Nature since I was 16 when I met some friends who guided my steps away from Greenwich Village to the woods of the Adirondack Mountains. Those years coincided with a spiritual awakening, and that’s when my connectionbecame a communion.

Nature has thus been a companion-teacher to me all these years. I have always resonated with the ancient saying, “as above, so below”. I take this to mean that spiritual truths are revealed in the stuff of the earth, that there is a dynamic correspondence between the divine and mundane, and a trove of lessons await the tuned-in mind.

Certainly, humanity can benefit from a good dose of this spirit today, as the earth continues to be used as a dumping ground for bloated societies and corporate raiders.

The emerging field called Biomimicry presents an antidote to some of these excesses by encouraging a learning relationshipwith Nature. Biomimicry is essentially the study of biological and natural processes we can employ to solve human problems. Biomimicry is related to Ecology or, more accurately, an ecological consciousness. The idea is to mimicbiology and nature.

For example, the buzzing insect might guide you to an idea.

That’s what happened with Ron Miles, a Binghamton University nanotechnologist who is replicating fly ears for hearing aids.

Most flies don’t even have ears.  But the Ormia fly does–and they’re powerful little buggers.  Ormia ears pinpoint the exact location of chirping crickets (on which the female fly deposits larva).

The Ormia actually has double eardrums, Miles discovered.  These eardrums let the fly precisely detect noise direction–a feature lacking in most hearing aids.  By studying the fly’s ear, Miles developed prototype hearing aids that help wearers focus their hearing and filter ambient noises.

I put this question to some of my students in relation to their own career development. The specific question was, “How is a career like a…?  We tried it with a spider web and a tree. Here’s what they came up with. I thought others might find it illuminating.

• How is a career like a…SPIDER’S WEB?

1. You have to build it yourself (initiative).

2. The bigger the web, the more you can potentially catch (opportunity breadth).

3. The web is designed according to what you want to catch (planning).

4. You must tend and repair it as needed (attention and adapting). 

5. Each strand connects with the others and builds off of the others (community and relationship network).

6. The web is only as strong as its weakest link (objectivity).

7. Requires patience in waiting (perseverance).

• How is a career like a…TREE?

1. Begins as a seed bequeathed by previous trees (connection to a larger whole).

2. Always growing…upward and outward (progressive realization of vision).

3. Roots stabilize it and draw nutrients from many different directions (ancestral awareness/ diverse strands of personal history).

4. Adapts to the seasons (resilience through the ups & downs).

5. Trunk is the core and branches its many expressions (working from core vision).

6. If one branch is cut off the tree keeps on living (if something falls through, like one revenue stream, you have others in place to compensate).

What are youhearing from nature? Drop a comment below!

Peter Spellman helps people discover and develop their next calling through transformative courses and coaching. Find him at