Ecosystems of the world hold rich mosaics of life. In every one of them, you will find people just like you. In ever group of people, you will find an entrepreneur.
Ecology is defined as the study of relationships between organisms. The patterns that determine success in nature, are the same things that determine success in business.
I first started to learn about ecology with a lot of interest at an early age. I was fascinated with the depth of it all and there was no end to the questions I could find and the things I could learn. As a teenager it turned into guiding adventure trips and working as an environmental educator. At 19, I launched what became my first 6 figure business, the core principles of which were entirely based on ecology. That’s when I fell in love with entrepreneurship.
It was the experience of having a valuable service to offer the world, that did more than fill my bank account and give me the freedom to live a life through my own curiosity and creativity. I had tapped into the experience of making the world a better place by serving others. My life was never the same again.
Into The Unknown
Before I boarded the flight, I scheduled a brief meeting. My mentor and I had been working together for some time on a series of speaking engagements for local schools and collaborating on business consulting services between our companies. We scheduled a meeting the next day at her office looking out high up above the streets. I was heading out to hit the ground running in Mexico. It was my first trip outside of the country and the primary focus was in testing our cloud-based services in a real-world environment. There were two purposes for the trip. The first was business. we were testing management systems, new cloud software, and communication channels. I wanted to test communication systems with the team and clients from outside of the country. I also wanted a remote working adventure in the tropical forest, deep in the tropical forests to the north of the Guatemala/Mexico border.
Only a few days later, I was standing in a trance, watching the interaction between two families of monkeys. In the jungle, there is more life than you may comprehend. The biodiversity is as complex as it gets, and it is fascinating to see the mosaic that exists in that climate. Every square inch is alive. Everything is a resource and everything is an opportunity.
How does such a phenomenon actually work? Simple. Every Species Dominates A Niche.
They dominate, or they don't survive. It is the same in business. Every one of 360 local birds I was surrounded by in the jungle had a specific way to contribute and thrive in the landscape. Some were loud and seen by the whole forest. Some were the size of a mouse, fluttering along the forest floor beneath the leaves. For the thousands of plant, mammal, insect, fungus, reptile, and fish species that live there, the ability to perform one thing well determines their ultimate success. In nature, the trees must prosper where they are planted. In society, the human grows exactly as they choose. The entrepreneur however is a different kind of creature. The entrepreneur adapts and adjusts to create what they have never seen.
The entrepreneur has a grand vision.
Standing under the lush canopy dodging spiderwebs and colorful lizards, I remembered the hunger to hear the howl of the wolf in the icy north. Now, I wanted to hear the sound of a howler monkey. I had heard the recordings and listened to the stories, but I had never experienced it for myself. When I did, it sent a chill down my spine. It was a complete whole-body experience as I felt the sound in my core and in my gut. It was right above me, and soon joined by a dozen others I hadn't even been aware of. I stood there captivated, and for what seemed like minutes, we held eye contact. I was eye to eye with a creature that seemed more human than beast. Some moments penetrate to every part of our being. Everything that follows them is different. This was one of those moments. As I sat there on the steps of an ancient Mayan pyramid hidden beneath the growth of the forest, I thought about what makes humans all that different in the ecosystem. A spider monkey screamed, a toucan roared, and a massive stone pyramid towered through the forest canopy above us all.
In that moment I realized the key to my curiosity. It was the one thing that made our kind truly different. And while I still wonder if our human intelligence is currently being used as an asset to the world or more of a disruption to serve our own lives, I recognized that today, every single one of us has the ability to build a pyramid. The empires we construct are more than castles in the clouds. They are the ecosystems that everything we come in contact with lives within.
There is a term for this in ecology. Humans Are Ecological Engineers. This means that the things we do change our entire ecosystem through the pursuit of our own resources, and for some, it becomes an attempt to improve our habitat. Beavers do it too. But unlike beavers (or any other species for that matter) we have the unique behavior, that we actually choose every aspect of our interaction with the ecosystem in remarkable detail. Like the stories told through countless generations, the information we share and the things we have been taught and seek to learn, are the tools of impact. Like the pyramids we can stand on today, the things we create become the legacy we leave behind. Every one of us has a choice in the niche we want to fill and today you can dominate any niche you desire, succeed as big as you want, impact the world as much as you want, and thrive. The only choice we don't have is whether to make one.
Some choose greatness. What will you choose?