Laurie Swanson Blog

A Woodpecker's Guide to Career Change

I am reading this great book by Peter Wohlleben called The Hidden Life of Trees. What they Feel, How They Communicate. This book has become my go-to gift because I have found it to be extremely profound.  

Peter worked for the Forestry Commission in Germany for over 20 years and he now runs an environmentally friendly woodland and works for the return of primeval forests.  

In the book, he basically tells story after story of the magic of trees.

For instance, he talks about the acacia trees in Africa and how, when a giraffe starts to eat the leaves, it will send a chemical into the air that signals to the other acacia trees in the area that the giraffes are threatening. Before the giraffes can reach the other trees, they have “smelled” the chemical and begun producing toxins that the giraffes hate and so they will pass by the trees.

Another great story he tells is about oak trees. They drop acorns on which the deer feed. But, if there were to drop acorns every year, the deer would keep eating the acorns and no new seedlings would survive. So, the oak trees decide in advance that they will “shut down” for a season or more which forces the deer and other animals to move to new feeding grounds or die. Then they begin dropping acorns again ensuring future trees.

I know, crazy right.

Nature has the Answers We Seek 

I never thought about trees like this before. I knew they were alive and were integral to the cycle of my life and life on earth but the level of their consciousness was not something I was aware of and it just blows my mind.

When I read the story of the woodpecker it made me think about people who are considering making a career change-maybe they want to reenter the job force after caring for kids, or perhaps they have been stagnating in their current role and want to advance to the next level, or maybe they feel like they are in job jail and want to escape-to another company or even to start their own business.

Fungi is Your Friend

Peter tells the story of how a woodpecker, when looking to build a nest to have babies, will select a healthy tree as their next home. Then it will peck holes into the bark at a certain spot that will eventually become its nest. Though they could keep pecking into the hard bark to make its nest, it would take a long time so they choose instead to get help.

Namely in the form of fungi. And they are happy to oblige. They can’t get past the bark on their own so they count on the woodpecker to get things started.

A Team Approach

As the woodpecker happily pecks other trees and eats and waits, the fungi begin to work their way into the holes the woodpecker has started and break down and soften the bark.

After a period of time, when the bark is soft enough. the woodpecker returns and can now peck further into the tree making it easy to enlarge the hole and build their nests.
Such patience.

Such teamwork.

You Do Not Have to Bang Your Head Against the...Tree

The whole point is that when making a career change, no matter how big or how small, you do not have to do all the hard work and heavy lifting on your own.

Just like fungi, people are happy to help.

Laurie’s Career Mentor Tip of the Week

This week why not take a page out of the woodpecker’s book and poke some holes and then have help preparing your nest?

Here are some thoughts on how to prepare for what’s next:
  1. Do the ideal career meditation and see what comes up {Link}
  2. Set up a coffee with someone who is in the role you aspire to
  3. Create a simple business plan {Link}
  4. Update your resume
  5. Set an appointment with a financial and retirement planner
    • Try my friend Mary Beth Moran at Kirkby, Phelan and Associates, 630/339-5600
  6. Set an appointment with your favorite career mentor…ME!
    • and 630-260-7821

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