From the December 2001 issue of Entrepreneur

Tom brown is a true inspiration. Not only is he the founder of Tom Brown Jr.'s Tracker School, a renowned school that teaches survival and tracking techniques, and a bestselling author with 16 books to his credit, including The Tracker(Berkley), but he's also technical advisor on Paramount Picture's upcoming The Hunted, a movie directed by Billy Friedkin and starring Tommy Lee Jones.

Brown teaches many tracking and survival skills in the course of his work, but one of the most important lessons he instills is that nature has the power to give people inspiration and direction. "People are drawn to nature," says Brown. "Look at where we spend our vacations-at the beach, in the woods, in the mountains. Many people have their greatest ideas when they close off the world and experience the solitude of nature. Nature is a place of inspiration and of meditation."

Don't discard his ideas as banal. Brown says some of the greatest inventions were born from dreams, which he compares to a meditative state. The double-helix formation of DNA came to James Watson in a dream. Eli Singer, who invented the sewing machine, dreamt of natives carrying spears with big holes in the spear points. Thomas Edison had a habit of taking catnaps and would often awake with ideas for new inventions.

Tom Brown's message is that when you look to nature to understand how things work, you see every moment of life as a tremendous opportunity to gain information. In his book The Way of the Scout(Berkley), Brown wrote: "We should always hold one question in our minds at all times. And that is, 'What is this telling me?' All around us are secrets that have to be unraveled, mysteries that have to be understood, and countless questions that have to be answered. Thus we are always searching, seeking and asking questions of the environment, whether of nature or of man."

That is the best lesson we can ever learn from nature-to constantly question what we see around us. When we find ourselves facing a new challenge or opportunity, we should ask, "What is this telling me?" The answers will bring us to places we never knew we could reach.