By Rosie Tomkins, author of ‘N-stinctive’,
Even as lockdown eases we are still having to deal with the unwanted shunt we’ve received from C-19, which has caused heartbreak and isolation to many. For those still furloughed or trying to get work lockdown with our families and a few friends does not replace the energy of work teams and colleagues and we can feel as if we have been caged.
So how do we find some uplift or precious sustenance, for our new journey ahead?
My view is that we have to look to nature. That unstoppable force that continues onwards through the cycles and seasons and despite our mind feeling like it is in bleak midwinter nature is celebrating spring in all its glory.
That’s the power of Natural Intelligence (NQ). NQ is the positive use of your instincts, insights, and perception. It requires you to be open to the senses, picking up invaluable information, by watching, listening, spotting patterns, noticing energetic transfer, and recognising boundaries – exactly like an animal in the wild. This translates into a dynamic combination of self-awareness, multiple intelligences and highly developed interpersonal skills.
Here are my five tips to help you understand and access the power of your natural intelligence?
- Look up from your screens, look through the window and consider how nature endures great hardship.
Animals in the wild wake up in the morning to face far more daunting challenges than we do. They have to find food and water to stay alive. Thanks to the legendary television programmes and films from David Attenborough and other wildlife experts, we can see the tremendous courage of animals defending their territory, their food, and their younger mates from what seems like a certain death.
We only need to look at nature to be inspired by those qualities and to understand the hugely motivational stories of animals adapting to new circumstances and surviving despite severe famine, environmental disaster, drought, bushfire, Tsunami, loss of habitat, migration and man’s destruction.
Use these stories to inspire you, to help you feel motivated to tackle the current crisis head-on and thrive through it – not just survive.
- Let yourself slow to a new level of productivity.
Many of us will have been working night and day and risk burnout – perhaps thinking that you have to do the same number of hours that you would do in the office. The risk to your health, creativity and well-being is at stake. Animals in the wild don’t to do this they conserve energy; animals are experts at expanding or conserving energy as needed. Healthy animals rest more than they hunt; they know how to moderate their outputs and ensure something is left in the tank, should it be needed.
For example, a cheetah, after an unsuccessful hunt, does not leave herself open to attack by depleting all her reserves, she makes sure there is enough fuel to get herself to a safe place where she can recover. She has mastered the art of multilevel recovery; sprint-break-sprint -break. The cheetah does not try to perform three hunts a day to try to increase her output or annual yield. She hunts when she needs to, and rests to ensure she has the energy she needs.
Take inspiration from the cheetah and work hard for a period, then give yourself a rest – a proper rest. When you work, put your focus into doing the work and being productive, and then stop. When you rest, focus on resting. Don’t burn yourself out by trying to work all the time – your productivity will drop, and your chance of burning out will dramatically increase.
- It is not the time to fight reality. Take your foot off the pedal and take one issue at a time; aim for depth, not breadth, right now!
If you feel you need more courage, then make that your focus. It is relatively easy to lead when times are good and business is buoyant. However, it takes a certain kind of leader to deal with crisis and turbulent times. Those people who are dealing with life and death situations on a daily basis at the moment, have to dig very deep in order to stay focused; this takes tremendous courage. What examples of courage in nature can give us inspiration?
Personally, I identify with the following:
Hummingbirds build a nest in the same trees where hawks are nesting, confident that they can evade capture by their flying prowess. They know lesser predators will not risk coming close to nesting Hawks. A dangerous, but courageous, strategy.
There are more than 10,000 different species of ant. Among those species their strengths vary considerably. Most ants can carry more than three times their own weight and can survive in water for weeks, if necessary, by forming a living raft.
In 2005 a documentary film ‘March of the Penguins’ highlighted the toughness and resilience of the Emperor Penguin. These resilient birds journey across frozen tundra in sub-zero temperatures to reach their traditional breeding grounds, once the female has laid her egg she must delicately transfer it to the male and then make her way back to the distant sea to nourish herself and bring back food to her newborn chick. Can you imagine the courage needed to do this?
What is extraordinary about animals is that they never doubt their personal power, not for a moment. Not simply because they have sharp claws and powerful jaws. Look into their eyes and see what comes back at you – and be prepared to be blown away.
- Acknowledge the current emotional landscape, and your own.
You will be stressed, possibly in ways you may not realise, and a stress animal is an unpredictable animal, it doesn’t always help itself. For example, have you ever seen a stressed sheep running into a wire fence? For whatever reason, some prey animals can get stuck in fences around farmland, maybe because they have been frightened by a fox, or perhaps have reached too far for that delicious mouthful. Without wire cutters it can be a difficult job to release them. Even though the wire may be cutting deep, the distressed animal struggles with its rescuers. Logic, patience, calmness, all disappear at this time and what should be a relatively easy release becomes a battle of wills serving nobody.
Never forget we are animals. We can end up entangled in the metaphorical barbwire, and we can panic so much we simply can’t extract ourselves, even if we’re offered a helping hand. So, take a breath, learn to manage yourself, stop and think, pause, take another breath and stay balanced.
- Become an expert in energy management.
Nature is the expert in managing energy. For most animals being aware of energy is the difference between life and death. What can we learn from nature? What anchor can this give us?
Biologically we are great big balls of vibrating energy and it is important to understand how to increase, preserve, nurture and protect this valuable asset – especially at this time. We need to be aware of our own personal energy and how this impacts the world around us. By understanding how to manage your energy you can impact your life in many ways.
The best way to become more aware of this is to observe nature; it is just as important to know how to stop as it is to know how to go. While we acknowledge how powerful the use of high energy can be, we must also recognise there are times when it is vital to use slow energy – to stop, reflect and regenerate our minds and bodies. We live in an always-on society, with the constant noise of information in our work and private lives. Covid19 gives us a chance to stop, contemplate and engage with our energy in a different way.
So, take a moment to think about your natural energetic state; are you a fast person, always moving, never stopping? Or are you slower, finding it difficult to do anything at speed, more comfortable relaxing than doing? Recognise which you are, and then consider how you can shift your energy along the spectrum a little. I am not suggesting a wholehearted shift; rather just a little tweak. Maybe you need to slow down a little and nurture yourself, or perhaps you need a small nudge to use your energy to make a change. Imagine the animal that will inspire you to make the move in the right direction.
By looking to nature, we can find the inspiration we need to be great leaders. We can tap into our Natural Intelligence (NQ) to help us navigate the challenging waters we find ourselves in today and the choppy sea that is no doubt sill ahead of us. Nature knows how to survive, we just have to learn to take notice of her lessons.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rosie Tomkins is founder of the Natural Capital Consultancy and author of ‘N-stinctive’, an inspirational book that introduces better ways to lead and deliver a competitive edge in today’s fast-moving, increasingly disconnected and uncertain world.
As an alternative to traditional leadership training, Rosie unlocks the power of the natural world to provide strength and confidence to people who are shouldering huge responsibility.
Rosie is passionate about taking leaders and individuals out of their comfort zone and challenges their deeply held beliefs in a way that makes them stronger, more confident to initiate new ways and ideas.
Her clients include the GB Olympic hockey and England rugby teams, the NHS and multi-national companies in the airline, engineering and pharmaceutical industries.
Website – www.n-stinctive.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/n_stinctive
Facebook – www.facebook.com/nstinctiveintelligence/