STOP. Take a moment to breathe! Soil health is important. Cover crop research and Best Management Practices are crucial. Just conceiving the concepts of climate change are exhausting! Breathe. It will still be important tomorrow.
Just for a moment, think of yourself. Not about soils, water quality, agroforestry, local foods, watersheds or anything else you often ponder during your professional workday. I want you to focus on you, and your influence on your local SWCS Chapter, company or organization, for just a few minutes. Consider this a reboot! If you are like me, you eat, sleep and drink soil and water conservation work. And we love it! But stop, just for a moment, and refresh yourself. Are you impacting your organization with renewed commitment? Are your seeking new innovations, new partnerships in conservation, new project, new funding sources, adding new members/staff to the organizations? Or, have you slipped into a rut that has transformed your ‘sheet and rill’ routine into an eroded gully of status quo habits. Perhaps you need a quick reboot!
I’ve been through several leadership trainings throughout my career and I have come to this conclusion: no matter what skills we have developed to effectively lead in this conservation movement – we must stop and reboot before resuming our quest to make a difference in our world. Why am I, a cheerleader of protecting natural resources (a.k.a. an obsessive compulsive geek who actually has Soil&H2O as a vanity license plate), trying to get you to think about something other than soil conservation?. The answer is simply because a pause is crucial if we are to remain passionate about our work. We will expire – simply run out of fuel- if we don’t reboot. So here are my instructions:
Get up and get out! Exercise, walk, eat healthy, have happy thoughts… come on! You know the deal; reboot and do it. Make it a habit. As leaders, we often do not move as much as we did earlier in our careers. Commit to adding a healthy activity to your life for 30 consecutive days! (And don’t eat at your desk!) Reboot.
Don’t give up. Whatever is looming over you, which may seem unbearable right now, unplug it! Just stop and be still for a moment. Reboot your thoughts: create new positive and productive thoughts. Sometimes a fresh perspective is all that’s needed. Sometimes a good cry, sometimes a belly laugh at the illogical ridiculousness of the situation will help. It will pass. Time weathers down even the most formidable mountain.
Begin again. You have conservation partners, staff and Chapter members, all depending on your leadership. Pull them into your newly renewed positive attitude. Encourage and remind them of the importance of their work. Go grab a healthy lunch and help them reboot. Food always helps!
Here is my last request… After you have rebooted- and have helped others reboot, before you leap back into this endless journey of conservation work, grab a pen and paper and write down your most inspiring thoughts. Capture them! It is so easy to put this article down and say “maybe later”. But we all know that once we resume the work glaring at us from our desktop, we may soon forget our inspiration. Reflect on your new thoughts from time to time. Remind yourself to contact other conservationist often. Strive to work together to make a difference in your organization, your Chapter, and our environment.
SWCS Southeast Regional Director
President, SWCS Hugh Hammond Bennett Chapter