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Ecosystemic Perspectives: Being A Special Kind Of Doing

Author: Dr. Ken Jennings

Credit Ken Jennings

I remember my university days when assignments had to be done. There was a lot of pressure on one to ensure that due dates were met. I remember working long into the nights preceding the due date. And then there was the relief once you handed the assignment in, only to be confronted with the next project. It was a never-ending cycle of ups and downs as pressure and relief exchanged places over time. As I think of this pattern now, the relief was only an illusion since completing one assignment moved you onto the next assignment. There was no respite from the on-going demands. You constantly had to be doing things, producing things; and with it there was this constant pressure that underpinned the process. The academic process was also wrapped up in an evaluation and critique process. And this usually heightened the intensity.

Being like a rat on a treadmill until life throws a spanner in the works and catapults you off.

Credit Ken Jennings

For many of us, work demands create the same intensity. I consult with clients who often use the metaphor of ‘being like a rat on a treadmill’ to explain how they feel about the pressures of their lives. They hanker to get off the treadmill, yet lack the courage to act to even slow down a little so that they can take stock of how they are ‘doing’ (or living) life. They fear that they will be ‘left behind’ or ‘not achieve success’ if they just stop for a brief moment. Usually, it is crisis that throws a spanner in their works and this catapults them off the treadmill.

Natures regenerative power

Contrastingly, nature makes no demands on us. It does not expect anything from us. It does not put pressure on us to perform or to achieve success. In fact, nature needs nothing from us. I always find that I am able to regenerate my energies in nature - Just being outside I can feel the nourishment that nature offers and I don’t have to do anything for this to occur.

‘Being’ though does not necessarily exclude ‘doing’. In fact, ‘being’ could be equated to a special kind of ‘doing’ – a doing that engages the present unfolding moment without resistance or expectation. Elite athletes are aware of this when their energies flow effortlessly in challenging competitive situations [often referred to as flow or "the zone"]. Linked to this, is the experience of being in the present unfolding moment, where time stands still and where yesterday and tomorrow do not exist.

Credit Ken Jennings

Coming full circle.

Nature is constantly in a process of unfolding, or evolving. In this evolution, every living organism deals with the ongoing challenge of the present moment. Nature doesn’t have to do anything to be something. Nature does not concern itself with ego, achievement and/or social status. Being in "the zone" is where nature constantly finds itself.

Likewise, we don’t need to be something when we are in nature and ‘losing our self’ there, and all that defines us, is a liberating experience. Nature offers us a context to put our lives in perspective, to experience our connection with the bigger unfolding picture of life. This combination allows us to regenerate our energies.


Dr Ken Jennings is an internationally renowned psychologist, executive coach and author with over 35 years experience. With a specialism in performance psychology, he has worked with elite sporting teams and extraordinary individuals globally. A systems orientated process thinker, he focuses on creating possibilities for those he consults with. His work draws on the philosophy of ecologic, in that ideas and actions are interconnected holistically. He believes that human transformation occurs when the power of energy and the complexity of information integrates in a meaningful, focused way.

Ken is a passionate photographer and a lover of things wild. He loves spending time in South Africa's Kruger National Park and the forests of southern Germany. Originally from South Africa, he now lives in Germany. He consults to clients globally. Connect with Ken on +49 1578 150 6789 or email. See his work at

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