Are you expanding or contracting?

Standing looking out to sea over a beautiful expanse of land, I could not help but feel at once small and vast. This is the power of environment.

Environment causes evolution. It's a concept I learnt 15 years ago from the founder of Coach U and Coachville, Thomas Leonard. He had deep insight into how crafting environments deliberately can cause evolution.

Leonard highlighted how all animals and plants adapt to their environment and conditions. The polar bear has developed a thick white fleece for camouflage in Arctic snow. The Chameleon is renowned for changing its colours to blend in to the landscape. Look at any animal and any plant you will see how it has evolved to suit the situation.

Leonard’s theory about deliberate evolution started the question: “what if we deliberately changed our environment to cause adaptation?”

He started to raise everything in our environment carries a subtle message. It can either drain or energise, irritate or soothe, depress or uplift.

Good office designers know this in exquisite detail. Careful consideration of natural light, colour, sound, textures, postures and movement, images and art and even smells can have a significant impact on how we experience our day.

If you think about each of these elements with the intention to cause upliftment and expansion, you can cause your own evolution.

As an example, I've been experimenting with Essential Oils. My business manager Bianca Jurd put me on to the Doterra brand and I have been infusing essential oils for the last three months. They have a visceral impact on energy and emotions! It really is incredible. Some oils are grounding - the herbaceous ones. Some are energising like the citrus-based ones. What I love about them is how a simple application or vaporizing can shift mental and emotional attitudes. In other words, we can steer our responses through deliberately crafting environment.

Here is an exercise I encourage my clients to do:

Look at each object in your working space and ask the question, “What is the message I'm getting from this object? How does it make me feel? Does it make me feel contracted or expanded?”

Then choose to keep the object or art based on that criteria: Uplift or depress? Energise or drain? Soothe or irritate? Expand or contract?

The last significant element in environment design is the view. An expansive view causes bigger thinking.

If you do not have a fabulous view from your home or work space, it is essential as a leader to seek these places out for personal rejuvenation and for catalysing expansion.

Big views give big insight. When we have a beautiful view and we stand in awe of the wonders of nature, we access the endless miracle of possibilities in a boundless universe.

Boundless leadership begins with a glimpse of the horizon. So get out there and take a look.