Spider Resilience: Leadership Lessons from the Garden

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Spider Resilience: What We Can Learn about Getting Back Up from a Garden Spider

Leadership Lessons from the Garden

June 19, 2023

By Jocelyn Little

Spiders. Many people do not like them. I do not like them. I have a slight phobia of spiders ever since I had a large spider jump down my shirt in high school as I tried to catch grasshoppers for my pet chameleon. These days, my policy on spiders is that if it isn’t a threat or in my way, I leave them be. With a child and two dogs, I am constantly watching for the dangerous creatures in my garden, but understand the benefit of having spiders around.

My little pup loves coming with me into the garden. It’s a daily ritual that he never lets me forget to do. He loves to explore and often pokes his nose into various plants and bushes. Naturally, I am always on the look out for different garden creatures that could harm him, such as black widows, brown recluses, centipedes and scorpions. 

One morning, I noticed a small white and brown spider that had spun a small web near my tomato plant. I had never seen a spider like it before, but let it be while researching if it could be a danger or not. That afternoon, I noticed that it was gone and thought nothing of it. The next morning, the web and the spider had returned. I couldn’t find anything that looked like the spider on the internet, so I thought I’d leave it be since it was out of the way. Again, by the afternoon, the web and the spider were gone — possibly from my pup poking his nose around, maybe the wind, maybe something else. The same occurrence happened a few more times before I stopped seeing the spider. 

Fast forward a couple of days later when one morning I found what looked to be the same spider in my raised garden bed just inside the opening of the netting and sun shade that I had put up for the summer. This was not an ideal place for this spider to set up camp as this was my only access into the raised garden bed. So I gently broke down the web and tried to encourage the spider to build elsewhere. The next morning, the cycle repeated, and again repeated. Finally, today, I found the spider had spun its web lower, and below the opening of my garden bed. I sighed and couldn’t help but laugh to myself. 

For the past few months, I have been going through some challenges in life. Life is full of peaks and valleys that help to make us who we are meant to be. In this particular valley of my life, the universe has sent me this tiny, little spider to remind me of a valuable, important lesson: that no matter what, I am not only capable, but must get back up and rebuild, recreate, move forward to fulfill my life’s purpose. 

While I doubt spiders can feel the emotions that people feel, I still cannot help but relate to the enormous internal strength of this spider. The spider didn’t get angry, or frustrated, or defeated. Whether the dog, the weather, or I knocked it down, it got back up and rebuilt, recreated, and kept moving forward towards its purpose. When one location proved to not be optimal, it revisited its strategy and did it again, and again. It refused to fail.

I know that human emotions and challenges are much more complex than that of a spider’s. I understand the importance of not ignoring our emotions, challenges, mistakes and needs, and figuring out ways to cope, learn, and build our resilience to move forward with it all. However, the simple reminder that this creepy little spider provided to me is hope, and that whatever life brings me, I can always get back up and start anew. When life knocks me down it is a choice to either stay down and defeated, or get back up and keep moving forward. Unlike a spider, we as humans have many tools and practices, such as daily meditation practices, mindfulness, and regular gratitude practices to name a few, that can help us build our resilience proactively, as well as assist with stress, challenges, adversity, and trauma in the moment. 

So while I may still be in the process of rebuilding my "web", so to speak, I can thank this little spider for the reminder that I can and will get back up after a fall, and I will rebuild, recreate and be stronger for it.

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