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Episode 003: Permaculture Beyond the Farm with Shelly Immel

Sep 11, 2019
Seeds of Tao Podcast with impact entrepreneur Shelly Immel

Applying the Twelve Permaculture Principles

On today’s podcast, we invite our very first guest to be interviewed! Shelly Immel is a fantastic example of an impact entrepreneur applying the twelve permaculture principles to every aspect of her life. Shelly is a wealth of knowledge and experience. In this post, we will discuss some examples of applying the twelve permaculture principles to your personal life, and in your regenerative enterprise. This is by no means an exhaustive list, it’s merely an exercise so that you can start broadening your thoughts and start seeing opportunities for further application of permaculture into your life and business, and therefore the harmony and order that comes with it.

Observe and Interact

The first permaculture principle is to Observe and Interact. One definite place we can involve this is with our listening skills. Listening is a skill, not simply hearing what someone is saying but feeling the emotion they are giving off, really understanding where they are coming from, and on the next level - reading their body language so that you can see the whole picture of the conversation you are having with that person. It is amazing the difference these tools make as you build your listening skills, and the greater ability you will have to relate with and communicate with that person. In our businesses, this is especially important. Observing and listening is vital to our ability to have a solid market fit, understand the opportunities and challenges of our niche, and seeing the need with can fill with our regenerative enterprise.

Catch and Store Energy

The second principle is to Catch and Store Energy. Among many methods, one overwhelmingly frequent thing that everyone does in this arena is eating. The food that we eat took energy to make, and as our bodies break it down the energy is transferred into our bodies. However, in this situation, not all energy is created equal. The more natural energy put into food, the better the quality of energy we will reap from it. We all know that the foods we choose to eat affect us in many ways, but it is so important to realize that the food we consume can change our mindset due to the complex series of chemical reactions we are made up of. Food that is full of things like sugar, preservatives, or ingredients that our body doesn’t handle efficiently affects our hormones and pH level, which many people don’t even consider. The combination of pH and hormone levels drastically changes our ability to produce chemicals like serotonin and oxytocin and can inhibit our ability to focus, work rigorously, and maintain energy among other side effects. Quality of energy we receive from food and store is of insurmountable importance when it comes to our health and mindset.

Likewise, as an entrepreneur we often wear many hats, stepping in however is needed at a moment's notice. If we are running on overwhelm and burn out, we won't be able to be the positive force in the world we desire to be. It can be really hard as an impact entrepreneur to draw a distinct line between business and personal life, but setting clear boundaries and sticking to them is one way we can make sure our energy reserves don't get completely depleted

Obtain a Yield

Third, Obtain a Yield. Yield can be thought of as a surplus or increase. We are not meant to be stagnant bodies wandering aimlessly around this planet. For us to really live and thrive, there must be progress, there must be an increase. Oftentimes we get stuck focused on a problem at hand, or settle with the status quo and stop moving forward- but efficient goal-setting and follow through are amazing at keeping our mind growing, and us moving forward. Always have at least one goal you are working on, but even better, have a goal for all major aspects of your life- wealth, health, relationships, success/accomplishment and so on. Setting and achieving goals in these areas will give you the feeling and proof of your positive momentum forward.

The same goes for your business. A yield doesn't only have to be seen in terms of profit, there are many forma of capital. But we must be growing in order to obtain a yield, and setting and achieving goals in our regenerative enterprise help us to do that.

Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback

Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback is the fourth principle and in my mind, really lends to diet. It is so important to be aware of what we are putting in our bodies and how our body responds to that food. The same principle could be applied to exercise as well, we should monitor and strategically plan our exercise, and be aware of how that is affecting our body and our mindset. 

In our businesses, this is where market research really shines. If we have a way to be in constantly receiving feedback from our audience, we can use their input to help us develop products and services that really help them.

Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services

Next up is Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services. The simple correlation might be renewable energy resources like solar, wind, or hydropower, but when applied to ourselves these renewable energy sources may take the form of things that renew us in mind and body such as recreation, exercise, meditation, yoga, spiritual practices, or pure, clean water. Think about what renews your spirit and mind, and hold onto that as your personal renewable resource.

As impact entrepreneurs, we can't do everything. Use and value renewable resources here can apply to our delegation or automation of tasks we don't absolutely need our hands in.

Produce No Waste

The sixth principle is Produce No Waste. As entrepreneurs, we love projects and moving things forward. But sometimes our time is spent doing things that aren’t actually moving the goals we have forward. Unfocused actions lead to a lot of wasted time and effort. Having a good system of thought and goal organization in a project management system helps us move forward our goals, with a lot less wasted resources, and in turn, we move forward with more conviction, purpose, and direction.

Design From Patterns and Integrate Rather Than Segregate

The seventh and eighth principle, Design From Patterns and Integrate Rather Than Segregate are exclusively mentioned in the podcast episode, so make sure to check that out- Shelly’s comparison with the choice to integrate into a social environment is really interesting and makes you think about how we are all connected. How can we integrate ourselves better into the greater regeneration movement? Who can we partner with?

Use Small and Slow Solutions

Number nine takes us to Use Small and Slow Solutions. Habit training is a great example of this. The only way to acquire a new habit is to integrate it one day at a time, repeatedly. The research argues 21 days as the magic breaking point when the action turns into habit. Examining our habits and evaluating which habits we would like to develop or shed helps us to change our mindset in the direction that we desire. If we want to maintain a more positive mindset, we can include things in a morning routine such as declarations, a vision board, or visualization, and can be small, slow changes that once turned into a habit, create a powerful change in mindset that was relatively easy to incorporate. No matter what part of ourselves we are trying to improve, principle number nine is wise counsel.

In terms of our businesses, this is a vital principle so that we don't grow too big too fast, and then spread ourselves too thin. 

Use and Value Diversity

Principle ten is Use and Value Diversity. Shelly brings up in the podcast how this is so important in a marriage, as well as society at large. I have tried to teach this to my kids many times as kids constantly find themselves comparing themselves to others (but really we all do that, right?). I have related to them if all the cells in our bodies made ears, we would just be a pile of ears. We wouldn’t be able to eat or see or move, or even think. Diversity doesn’t mean it is easy to get along, in fact, it oftentimes makes things much harder, but there is a beauty in diversity if we can release our tendency to compare and truly appreciate the different strengths and knowledge everyone is coming to the table with. Beautiful things are created when diversity is cherished and flourishes in our lives and businesses.

Use Edges and Value the Marginal

The eleventh principle is to Use Edges and Value the Marginal. Oftentimes we don’t set enough edges within our minds. If we are constantly seeking to bring things in, the good and the bad will come, which isn’t for the best. It takes some reflection, but when we really ponder on the things that we want in our lives and don’t want in our life- creating the margin in our mind, we are able to only allow the positive in. Not to say that just because we are thinking positively someone close to us won’t die, or we won’t suffer from health problems, or poverty in the world will disappear - but rather we will be able to stay in a positive, present place and not dwell in the external distress we may be facing. This is when our minds become untouchable - we are able to dismiss the negative, separate ourselves from the negative emotion and deal with the problem at hand out of rational thought rather than impulse and truly work through the problem and move on. There is amazing power in this.

In our regenerative businesses, as we build funnels for our customers to travel through, identifying the edges within the funnel (where chances are the most slip through), is extremely insightful for finding out when they need the most help. The same goes with identifying the bottlenecks and focusing on improving those, which increase out overall efficiency.

Creatively Use and Respond to Change

Lastly, we come to the twelfth permaculture principle, Creatively Use and Respond to Change. This is where the power of staying present comes back into play. When we are able to stay present, we don’t dwell in the past (depression) or the future (anxiety), and are able to free ourselves of those bonds which will allow us to be flexible to the changes that occur around us, and objectively see how to thrive in our new situation or stage of business.


There you have it- can you see how these permaculture principles are so very relevant to our personal and entrepreneurial lives? I am not saying that these are the specific ways they must be applied, just like any piece of unique landscape, everyone’s situation is different, but the principles can be applied in their own way to create positive change, order, and harmony. Make sure to listen to the episode with Shelly, she is such an amazing example of someone who really embraces permaculture in all aspects of her life, and uses the principles in her own growth and progress.

P.S. Don't forget to join the conversation on the Community and let us know your thoughts on how you've applied permaculture principles into your personal life. 

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