Open your forest eye

Our summer outing this year looked a little different. Firstly, it was in October. Secondly, we traded the luxury of previous trips abroad for something a little more down to earth.

The day began with a coaching workshop. At The Upside, everyone is both a coach and coachee so, led by Hayley Mascall, this was a great chance to sharpen our skills and continue to find new ways to bring out the best in each other.

Yet, all too soon, we were leaving the warmth of a Soho Works meeting room, as we packed into a minibus and headed off to the Hampshire forest.

Under an ominously grey sky, we set up camp for the night on a Trueways Survival course. In the middle of nowhere – just a basher, a sleeping bag and an unauthorised packet of pot noodles in case things got really desperate.

After a quick tour around a distinct lack of facilities, we set out on a group walk through the woods. The purpose? ‘To open our forest eye’.

Planted in the middle of the forest, it all looked the same. A big expanse of greeny-brown.

But opening your forest eye is about getting beyond that first glance. Taking a moment, being fully present and, perhaps for the first time, really noticing what’s around you.

And once you’ve found your forest eye, this leafy expanse becomes a network of resources. Resources to survive (or, in our case, get through one damp autumn evening).

We learned that silver birch bark is the perfect fire starter, woodlice contain 7 out of 8 amino acids and prickly holly actually makes the bounciest mattress.

The idea of being fully aware resonated with something we’d learned just earlier that day. The importance of active listening in coaching. Being totally engaged in someone else’s experience, to help them unlock the answers already inside of them.

And I couldn’t help but feel this all had a broader application, too. A life lesson buried amongst the leaves.

That the more we walk, heads down, passively passing through…The less we see. The less we get out. The less we give back.

When we open our forest eye, we notice the nuance. We sense the sensitivities.

This can help us in our work… Uncovering the hidden consumer dynamic, the nascent cultural movement, the product that’s missing from the shelf…

But it can help us to be better at life too.

The joy that comes from noticing the seasons change.
The comfort we can offer when we realise they’re not ok.
The change we can make when we finally recgonise the overlooked.

For the big or small things, I urge you to open your forest eye.
You’d be amazed at what you might see.


Upsider: Lucinda Brooke

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