Looking at Trees


"How will looking at a tree help me become a better Leader?"

When leaders tell me they have heard of Shinrin-yoku, Forest Bathing, or Forest Therapy and they don’t see any practical value in looking at trees, I ask if they want to see value and I offer to guide them on this short exercise.

(This works best if you are in an area where trees are visible; even better if you can physically be in the trees. However, if you can’t be physical present with the trees this exercise can be done via the imagination.)

Invite them to:

  • Scan the trees with a sense of curiosity then choose a tree to focus on.
  • Spend a moment observing your tree (1 - 2 minutes).

Give adequate time to explore the following questions:

  • Tell me about your tree? Why this tree, or what is significant about this tree?
  • What else about your tree?

When you observed your tree:

  • Did you see it as an individual tree?
  • Did you see it as unique?
  • Did you see it as a living system with roots, and capillaries to move water, and leaves to breath air and capture sunlight?
  • Did you see your tree as part of a larger system, interconnected with the surrounding biome?

After a pause to let any discovery emerge:

  • Anything more about your tree?
  • Is there any wisdom your tree has to share with you?

Coming back to your initial inquiry, How do your observations about the way you saw this tree inform you about you as a leader and how you view and lead others?

Anything else?

One last question (asked rhetorically) I’m curious, Did you choose this tree, or did this tree choose you?

- why I coach

The Nature of Leadership