Have you ever visited a desert and wondered about the cactus and its ability to survive?

I often visit the deserts of Baja, and in my wanderings the stark and quiet beauty of this ecosystem creates an awe that defines “mindfulness.” A potent experience of stillness and balance between the mountains and sea. 

And the regal cactus reigns over all.  With lessons about survival and resilience.

There are many legends and stories about the cactus plant–often revered within desert cultures. It is a tree that survives with little water in a dry and hot environment, providing sustenance and shelter to many desert animals and insects.  

Like many of Nature's wonders, which teach us about balance and inter-connectedness, cacti have adapted and thrived over time. Here are a few fun facts from Science and Kids:

  • Cactus thorns are highly modified plant leaves. The sharp spines and the thick tough skin of the stem protect the cactus from animals who would otherwise have easy access to the liquid inside.
  • The cactus collects water using a large root system. Small thin roots grow near the surface of the soil and collect rainwater as quickly as possible during the few times it rains. A taproot, which grows much deeper, reaches underground water supplies when the top soil is dry.
  • Cacti can gather and hold water in their stems. The water is not pure, clear water, but viscous. The fluid is drinkable however, and has saved people’s lives in the desert.

The bottom line: The Cactus is Resilient!

“The ability to recover from or adjust easily to change, misfortune, adversity  or stress.” Merriam/Webster .

Here are a 9 tips to help us become more resilient and thrive during change as Conscientious Leaders:

  1.  Don’t take things so personally. It’s not always about “me.” That is the ego.
  2. Develop a “thicker skin” like the cactus. Throw off negative challenges with positive energy and action.
  3. When challenged by major change, think of the long term bigger picture, not just the short-term impact.
  4. Find ways to make lemonade out of lemons.
  5. Use your energy to be proactive vs spending time being defensive and trying to maintain the status quo.
  6. Find an internal space of strength – that you can tap into with confidence - and remember that feeling when confronted – a “bank” of positive feelings and successes that you can draw from when faced with negativity.
  7. Create an ecosystem of support among your peers and colleagues that creates a buffer against adversity.
  8. Counter stress by giving and kindness—an antidote to anxiety,  that ultimately makes you stronger.
  9. Take accountability and ownership for the situation and mistakes, and then move on with action.

We can build resilience and create opportunities to thrive.  Just like my friend, the cactus.

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