Make like a lichen: Get symbiotic and be a pioneer.

Are you trying to grow on a rock all by yourself?

Can you grow on rock?

Do you struggle to accumulate enough nutrients to sustain to yourself year to year?
Is your skill set suited to survival in certain conditions and you fear going extinct if the environment changes?
Do you long to colonize new and unchartered territory but just can’t seem to get a foot hold?

I used to believe….I could do it all alone. Change the world and ALL that. Inevitably though I would hit a bump in the road or run out of energy, survival mode would kick in and I would lose traction. I had the very best of intentions to embrace change and no doubt I have evolved as a teacher over the years. However I was frustrated but the minimal growth I would experience. “Baby steps” was one of my favorite expressions. My intentions were good, however the longevity and impact of my efforts were at best, superficial.

Enter symbiosis…….say what?
A lichen is a lowly, little, unloved organism that is expert at survival in harsh environments. The lichen looks like one organism, but actually is 2 species (a fungus and an alga) who coexist to the benefit of both.  The fungal partner protects the alga who is photosynthetic, producing sugars to feed both. Together they can survive in habitats no other organism can: they grow on rocks, in the extreme arctic, and even on toxic slag heaps. Their ability to extend their skill set gives them advantage in colonizing areas that no other organism can.

Growing on a rock is no problem!

Moreover these deceptively simple life forms modify the environment they inhabit and produce conditions under which other organisms can then live.
They act as pioneers for others. 

I hear you saying: “Heck, I am not here for a Biology lesson Ms. Durley!”, but hold up a sec.

What if to experience transformative growth we need to intertwine our learning in a symbiosis of sorts? What if we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable, dependent, and open, just like the fungus on the first day, admitting that there was no possible way that he could photosynthesize, but he was sure good at offering protection for survival in harsh conditions?

In the olden days, I equated needing someone else to get my job done as, not getting my job done. Over the years in my efforts to be strong I also became brittle. I had mistakenly categorized compromise as weakness. In my perfectionist mind-set, I believed that if I did not have total control, then the project, lesson-plan or venture would not “work out”.

But what if… in order to experience true and lasting change we need to go colonize some “barren rock” and to do that we need deep, meaningful collaboration with others. What if the collaboration has to go beyond….sharing, brainstorming, supporting and listening to each other. What if the relationship has to venture into the symbiotic, and we have to show up ready to be vulnerable like the fungus did on that very first day.

Are you ready to colonize that barren rock, can you do it alone, are you willing to get symbiotic?

Heads up, growing on rock is hard work, but sand is fine, fine, fine.

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4 thoughts on “Make like a lichen: Get symbiotic and be a pioneer.

    • Yeah, nothing new, just personal. But beyond being weak, being ready to be symbiotic and intertwine our learning and growth to pioneer new territory. And I live for a good solid analogy!! Thanks for your comment.

    • Lichen are an under loved bunch, I mean they get called “Witches Hair”. Good luck with getting other on board, it makes a big difference to have someone to brainstorm with.
      Good luck 🙂

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