How to reconnect with your business in uncertain times

By Rosie Tomkins, author of ‘N-stinctive’

The last few months have been extremely stressful for business owners, leaving many of us feeling drained.  In such difficult and uncertain times it can be hard to maintain the passion that brought you into the business in the first place.  However, the good news is that despite everything you can reconnect with that passion and use the opportunity to create a new balance in your life.

Let me share one story with you and then some suggestions to help you reconnect.

About 12 months ago, I worked with a CEO whose company was extremely successful. The focus for the session was ‘communication’, a very challenging problem in most organisations and in life generally. I particularly wanted this client to ‘feel’ leadership rather than ‘think’ strategically.

We met at my farm where we are lucky enough to have space to play with ideas outside in nature. I wanted to engage him with ‘out of the box’ thinking, thus I obtained his permission to work without the sense of sight or language. In other words, to blindfold my client and work without speech; purely by touch. I proceeded to lead him outside using different techniques. Firstly, I was collaborative and supportive, giving him my arm and guiding him with care. Secondly, I gave him the end of a rope to hold and quickened my pace and distance, taking him out of his comfort zone. Thirdly, I went behind him and pushed him gently into the unknown. This carried on until I had exhausted all the different leadership styles that I knew. What he didn’t know was that he was moving towards a horse. Finally, I took him into the outdoor arena and placed his hands on the withers of one of my horses.

What happen next was extraordinary and will stay with him, and with me, forever.

As he felt the strong warm coat of a living thing he spontaneously buried his head in the horse’s side, and he wept. His sense of relief was palpable. The strength and sheer presence of the horse standing strong and patient by his side was immensely poignant. Another living creature had his back and somehow the horse understood that the man simply needed to be in contact with him and needed support. My thoroughbred horse kept completely still. The client was able to let go of his own power for a minute and simply be. To take a breath, feel the moment and gain the insight that it gave him without words, without sight, simply feeling the animal connection and shared understanding.

I asked him whether he was happy to share this powerful moment. Without hesitation he agreed.

“I was born in the high mountains of Pakistan where nature in all its glory is on your doorstep. Connection with all living things had been part of the culture. How far away all that seems now. I had forgotten that deep connection and how much I long for that in my life again”.

He had voiced the core issue that brought him to the farm. Loss of connection with nature.

“I knew something was unfulfilled in my life I now know that the way I am living has to change dramatically. I had all the trappings of success, but no idea why I felt this emptiness inside.”

Later he told me the most liberating aspect of this experience.

“I re-evaluated the way I conducted my business and brought in a senior manager who now runs the day-to-day operation. This has freed me up to connect with nature and I have found this to be a wonderful bedrock of ideas. I am now positioned to utilise my natural creativity and have someone else handle the daily process for me. Our company has gone from strength to strength.”

Why is this story significant? It’s time to look at different approaches.

Here are some suggestions for allowing nature to ground us right now and going forward:

Connect in your local area – Walk in the park and count the different types of animals you see, trot up the highest hill in your neighbourhood and take in the vastness of the sky, stroll through the woods and smell the under-forest. There’s an incredibly emotive experience to the feeling that you’re a small part of something bigger.

Connect with natural phenomena – Watch a sunrise or sunset, either on your own, or with the other members of your household. The ‘dawn of the day’ and the ‘end of the day’ are perfect times to reflect on the beauty of nature.

Connect digitally – Add a beautifully scenic screensaver to your computer. Change your ‘Zoom’ background to something aesthetically natural. Sometimes these small changes to our regular working lives can reignite our enjoyment of the outside world.

Connect in your kitchen – Simply add some potted plants to the windowsill. There’s something very rewarding about planting seeds and seeing new life grow, taking responsibility for cultivating something organic and beautiful. Science tells us that plants ‘bring happiness’ to a room. Choose some pretty pots and get growing.

Connect with adventure – Swim in your local ‘open water lake’. Embrace the brisk water, and the rewarding feeling of being physically connected to nature. The cold water soon feels warmer, enjoyable, invigorating.

Connect with your reading – Find an engaging book that describes and visualises nature. “Rewilding Yourself” by Simon Barnes is particularly good.

Connect with a documentary – Who doesn’t enjoy a David Attenborough documentary? These documentaries are a fantastic way to remind ourselves that there is a world of beauty out there.

Connect with fun – Support your sanctuary or wildlife reserve. When COVID restrictions are lifted, go spend the day with your family, surrounded by the world’s most beloved creatures. For an extra sense of connectivity, ‘Adopt an Animal’ to harness support of the natural world.

Connect with philanthropy – Subscribe to an intuitive, reputable and beautiful wildlife magazine. I find the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation to be exceptionally good.

Why is it so important to stay connected to nature?

The human spirit can be restored by nature. If we ignore it and continue to believe that manmade solutions can replace our connection to wildlife, we are seriously mistaken.

When I am working with clients I remind them that: We are not in nature, we are nature. A wonderful thing about nature is that it connects us to the here and now, and also connects us to something bigger than ourselves.  There are huge benefits to savouring the present moment instead of always focusing on the goals of tomorrow. Using the suggestions for connecting to nature will help you reconnect with your passion for your business and in turn help you to establish a new balance in your life.

Rosie Tomkins is founder of the Natural Capital Consultancy and author of ‘N-stinctive’, an inspirational book that introduces an alternative to traditional leadership training by unlocking the power of the natural world to provide strength and confidence to people who are shouldering huge responsibility.

Rosie’s clients include the GB Olympic hockey and England rugby teams, the NHS and multi-national companies in the airline, engineering and pharmaceutical industries.

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