Insight, Nature

Four Life Lessons from Jane Goodall

Transfixed, I watched ‘Jane’, the latest documentary about the life and work of Jane Goodall. The film combines never-before-seen footage of her days at Gombe, family life in Africa and the UK as well as insightful commentary from Jane herself.  It’s a beautiful and honest reflection of her personal and professional life.

I emerged from behind the screen, immersed in thought, mulling over what I could learn from her. This is what I came up with:

1. Have the courage to go where your life’s work takes you

Growing up in the UK, Jane dreamed of working with animals in Africa.  She would not be who she is today if she had not had the courage to move to another continent to pursue her passion.

2. Dreams come true and following them is not foolish

Jane couldn’t afford to go to university (which worked out in her favour after all), and was a young, inexperienced English woman – not the first person you’d send on an expedition in the African jungle! But, determined to see her dreams come to fruition, she got a waitressing job, saved up some money and headed off. She physically put herself in the way of opportunity.

3. Don’t cut yourself off from your potential

As a young woman in the late 50s and early 60s, Jane was a pioneer. Despite facing criticism, sexism, and possibly her own doubts, she continued with her work. She certainly would not have contributed so significantly to scientific knowledge and conservation if she had quit.

4. Have a supporter(s)

Jane’s mother always had her back. In fact, she moved to Gombe to support her daughter’s work. Following your dreams and pursuing your life’s work takes inner courage, but also, I think, at least one person who believes in you.


Jane Goodall should be an inspiration to us all. By cultivating a little patience and curiosity about the world around her, Jane has become a pioneering researcher, successful activist and empowering leader.

But perhaps the ultimate lesson from this icon of our time is to generate compassion. To really look into the eyes of other creatures and see ourselves reflected back.

P.S Jane Goodall has authored numerous books, for children and adults alike. Reason for Hope seems to speak to the challenges we face today – environmentally and spiritually, and is going on my reading list!

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