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Walking in the woods and Organization Development

What does walking in the woods have to do with Organization Development? Stress is necessary for life and work.  To-do lists keep us organized, Blackberries and iPhones keep us in communication, and performance goals keep us focused on the big picture. It’s when we become distressed that our work and organizaiton performance decreases as our bodies react as though there were a tiger just behind the wall. Whether we are overwhelmed gradually or suddenly by the circumstances around us, each person needs to find ways of regaining equilibrium – recharging their batteries.

We’ve all heard the experts talk about how to manage stress and distress successfully: exercise, eat a healthy diet, spend 10 minutes in meditation or prayer, get enough sleep, and spend time with people you care about and who care about you. Yet, too often I find myself making excuses, putting off the necessary action. I hear others doing the same.

Outdoors it is the fall season. The light comes late and fades early. Brilliant red leaves cover the ground under dormant trees. Green wheat covers the ground like a fuzzy blanket, waiting for the gift of snow and spring warmth. Fall – Spring. Light – Dark. Life – Death. Stress – Distress. As Parker Palmer says, “We want light without darkness, the glories of spring and summer without the demands of autumn and winter, and the Faustian bargains we make fail to sustain our lives.”

The challenge for each of us is to take action, to find a way to live the paradox that is stress and distress. Take a walk; each lunch with a friend; read a good book; enjoy a movie; spend some time sitting quietly and connecting with the world around you; sleep well. When we intentionally act to care for our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, our organizations and communities can thrive as we engage productively with the energy and innovation that come from well-being.

Action precedes transformation – for individuals and organizations. It is not enough to know what to do; we must do it. “You must be the change you with to see in the world.”

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