Attitude is Everything

August 6, 2010 4 Comments

|Photo by sarniebill1||

Picking up from where I left off yesterday, I want to share some additional insights gleaned from my tour of Lauren Chase-Rowell’s permaculture garden and land.  Something else that struck me was when Lauren said that beyond her training and intuition as a master gardener, “attitude is everything.”  Illustrating this statement with stories it became clear that while she is incredibly skilled in her craft, Lauren’s psychological and emotional approach take it all to another level.  In essence, permaculture starts with your self.

Channeling Lauren, I offer these three attitudinal guidelines for your consideration and application to your social change/leadership efforts, especially those geared towards leveraging the potential of systems and collective intelligence:

  • Turn problems into solutions – Lauren’s approach to problems is that they can be solutions in disguise to other problems.  For example, when the local utility company cut down a number of trees on her property, a decision over which she had little influence, Lauren made lemonade by asking how she might use those downed trees, which now serve as mulch for her garden beds and shrubbery.  Getting hung up on what we cannot control or hyper-focusing on isolated problems can be inefficient and unproductive.  What problems are you currently facing that contain the seeds of solutions in other parts of your system?
  • Our (lack) of creativity can be our biggest limitation – The driving energy of life and systems is to create, to generate new (emergent) traits and relationships.  Sometimes one of the most damaging things we can do is to stand in the way of that impulse or not join fully with that energy.  When we view arrival of insects as “pestilence,” for example, and act to keep them out of a garden we may end up overlooking the valuable systemic functions of those critters and then contaminate our edens with harmful chemicals.  How might you better align with the creative impulse of the system in which you are working so that it can better do what it was meant to or evolve to what it wants to be?
  • Mistakes are tools for learning – Lauren is an exemplar of the mantra “improve not prove.” As an educator and consummate learner, she understands that mistakes are the crucial seeds of insight and better practice.  Mistakes are not to be taken personally or as license to beat ourselves up.  Rather, they are to be harvested, mulled over,  and fed back into the system.  Were we to truly embrace the ethic of learning then we could better align with nature’s tendency to prototype, innovate, and adapt.  What is your attitude towards learning and making mistakes in your leadership and change efforts?  How might you better enable a culture of learning?

Happy gardening!


  • Gibran says:

    Thanks for delving deeper Curtis, here is my commitment – I want to take on these reflection questions and apply them to myself, blog post coming!

  • Cynthia Silva Parker says:

    True enough–circumstances are what they are. How we see them and how we choose to engage them is more within our power than we sometimes see or even want to believe.

  • Curtis says:


    I like your commitment and want to join you. I especially think it would be WONDERFUL organizational/community discipline to look at problems for the solutions that reside within.

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