For today’s entrepreneurs, CEOs and business leaders, stress, anxiety and depression are not unusual. Far too many define the road to success as one inherently laced with a towering degree of pressure, long hours in the office and days spent staring into screens—all of which can cut off our connection to ourselves, each other and so much of the natural world. However, this does not need to be the case. Leaders are increasingly pursuing a new philosophy of success that could revolutionize our approach to the workplace, by encouraging more time away from the office and less time spent stressed and overworked.
Boyd Varty, TED speaker, author and tracker, has made it his mission to transform the lives of executives and founders by inviting them into the natural world while reminding them that true success in life can take many forms. Varty’s philosophy uses wisdom gained from the art of tracking wild animals to teach important traits that can help in business, such as resilience, analytical skills, purpose and mindfulness.
“The key to living as a tracker is to develop an internal set of metrics for fulfilment,” he explains. “You teach yourself to notice what actually brings you to life rather than what should make you happy.”
Varty was raised on six million hectares of land on the Londolozi Game Reserve in the South African wilderness, which is the source of inspiration for his philosophy. Over the years, his teachings have helped hundreds of individuals, leaders and teams from across the globe embrace a new perspective on how they manage their work and their personal lives.
“It’s important to understand that time spent out of the office and more importantly spent in nature is in fact critical for our health and happiness as humans,” says Varty. “It’s easy to lose ourselves in things we think we should do or should be, which leads to all the negative things that cause us to be way off track. Look for what makes you feel most alive and most fulfilled, in both your career and your personal life and that is where you will find success.”
The healing effects of nature have been well documented. An American Scientist study showed how spending more time in nature actually triggers an increase in the opioid receptors in the brain’s visual cortex, and recent research by Roger S. Ulrich, PhD, showed how nature can help heal the body more rapidly from surgery and serious disease.
In his new book, The Lion Tracker’s Guide to Life, Varty explores the wisdom to be found in complete solitude, where we let go finally of our deep attachment to a social hierarchy and can find peace. “In complete solitude, we are not a concept of ourselves; we are ourselves,” he says. While meditation and self-reflection are far more common than they once were, Varty takes things a step further by merging these activities into his retreats in Africa, creating a holistic experience.
Most of the entrepreneurs he works with take on simple practices like a morning mediation or quiet time before they start their work day, walking or being active outside more when possible vs a gym or indoor activities and taking time to evaluate what one is “tracking” in their life both in and outside of their career. Awareness is key. “Personal transformation is a process of discovery born of attention, as is tracking,” says Varty.
Varty reminds us to always know and seek out what makes you feel most alive—most fulfilled. When we are fulfilled, we make different choices, we may seek a different approach to success and we can even become an inspiration to others by these shifts in our own lives. “It’s a deeply self-defining process,” he explains.
One thing to remember: take time to be still, remember what matters and pursue that. “More presence is more life.”