The ancient and majestic Baobab Tree, also known as the Upside-Down Tree, Tree of Life or simply the African Symbol is famous for its unique shape. With root-like branches, a fat trunk specializing in water storage and surviving bush fires, these trees can live for well over a thousand years. In an extreme dry and arid climate, the tree is a symbol of life and positivity in a landscape where little else can thrive. This fat trunked tree has proven to survive and thrive on transition in all sorts of heavy weather and seems to be the master of resilience and adaptability. So, what can we (entrepreneurs) learn from this Tree of Life?
It would be an understatement to say that these days are challenging times of radical change. Businesses are ought to transform from offline to online, exclusive to inclusive, and grey to green. Change, transformation, transition: not exactly an average human-nature’s comfort zone. But definitely a success zone for the visionary entrepreneur. So, how to thrive in times of transition? And how is this tree going to help you do so?
1. Dare to let go of dead branches
Dead branches would keep the Baobab tree from proper healing and allow diseases to invade the tree. Changing with the seasons and letting go of dead branches instead, makes the tree stronger and allows for new branches, new possibilities, and new ideas to grow.
2. Respect the bugs
In order for the Baobab Tree to grow fruits, every component of the tree’s photosynthesis has to work together. The organizational structure has to be right. Only then the fruits will grow and eventually fall on the ground, planting a seed for a new tree to grow. This is innovation.
3. Move towards the light
The tree grows towards the light: without the light, there is no direction. So, in order to reach your goal (especially in times of transition), staying focused on your light will help you grow towards it. And when you are deeply rooted in the ground, you will be able to stand tall and take a hit. It does not matter where you are planted, as long as your roots and your light is there.
4. Defy gravity, flip your perspective
The African tree’s nickname ‘The Upside-Down Tree’ is a nice depiction of the Dutch Art of Flip-Thinking. This is transforming problems into opportunities, looking at reality the way it is and focusing on what you can do with it. This is the way to thrive on transition.
For the optimist, a glass is half full. For the pessimist the glass is half empty. The flip-thinker will search for the tap.
5. Hug the tree
According to an old saying in Africa, “Wisdom is like the Baobab Tree. No one individual can embrace it.” Instead of figuring it all out on your own, remember that a little bit of help from others can have a big impact and help you a whole lot further. Conversations with people around you might offer new ideas and new perspectives, and also outsourcing certain practices can be the key to thriving on transition.