How Small Businesses Can Use the Power of Nature to Thrive During Lockdown & Beyond

natural intelligence NX

Covid-19 came at us out of “left field“. It was sudden and brutal. A wave of disbelief followed that disrupted our normal working pattern significantly, and maybe, irretrievably.

For all of us who run a business, there is a deep uncertainty right now. We are worried about what will happen to the business we’ve worked so hard to build up, and we are concerned for our employees and their long-term futures.

Lockdown with our families may not replace the buzz of being with our teams in our offices, workshops or retail outlets. We can feel as if we have been frozen, stopped in time.

All our plans, projects, expansion, future collaborations and global connections have been thrown into turmoil, and for many of us this puts us into a freeze state that we have never experienced before. All our future business dreams have been put on ice.

With the possible ease on lockdown coming in the weeks ahead. How do we start to melt the frozen state of our businesses?

The power of natural intelligence (NQ)

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.

By understanding the power of natural intelligence (NQ) we can harness that unstoppable force and use it to challenge our perspectives. Are you feeling powerless, overloaded, shutdown and non-functioning?

Imagine a wild hare crouching stock still and low to the ground, a predator in hot pursuit, its life force barely perceptible. Often the slightest movement is the difference between life and death; of being seen or not seen. This is freeze mode and because animals are experts in energetic awareness, if there is no movement or energy transmitted, they are often not picked off by prey.

The hare literally uses the freeze state to stay alive. Maybe by changing our perception of freeze to a more positive lens we can use our freeze-like state to take stock, nourish, recharge, process and evaluate and stay very much alive for the rocky road ahead.

Here are a further 5 tips to help you understand and access the power of your natural intelligence;

1. We have to feel OK about the unknown

Nobody has all the answers yet. We need to let ourselves off the hook as business leaders, and not fear our own vulnerability.

For once, we are not striving to be the best leader right now, we cannot possibly be that. We need to be at home with the notion of being an “imperfect leader” and drop the ego.

Animals in the wild wake up to the unknown every morning and face far more daunting challenges than we do. They have to find food, water and shelter.

They have to adapt quickly to new circumstances including severe famine, environmental disasters such as drought, bushfire, tsunami, and loss of habitat perhaps created by the destructive ways of mankind.

They are vulnerable, often in a different reality and have to adapt or die. For example, leopards are not only among the most beautiful animals in Africa, but they are champions of adaption when fitting in with a change in habitat or environment.

This is typified by a story I read about a leopard that was found in an abandoned football stadium living with two cubs, eating garbage and chasing pets through the neighbourhood.

2. We need to keep collaborating & communicating

Collaboration and communication with others are now more important than ever. This is not the time for “turf wars” and competition.  We have to find the answers together to regain economic health.

Have you ever wondered how bees communicate where the food source is? Well, the answer is that the worker bees inform thousands of their co-workers where the source of the nectar is by performing a dance. This dance called the “The Waggle Dance” (seriously)!

The bees have found a way to communicate clearly and effectively to the benefit of the whole team, an extremely efficient strategy. As business leaders, we are going to have to find new and innovative ways to communicate.

3. We need to be the leader our business needs

A recent Gallup poll asked a huge number of employees what they were looking for from their leaders. The consensus was that employees want a leader who shows compassion, stability, trust and hope.

We are looking for our leaders to be “constant” someone to rely on. How can we deliver this for ourselves our teams and all our employees right now?

Well again there is nothing more “constant” than nature, it endures, the birds still sing even if when there is snow on the ground, the leaves still fall off the trees in autumn, flowers still bloom, seeds germinate. Let nature be a memorable anchor and a symbol of hope right now.

4. Use this time to develop your bounty

Nature is hardwired to stockpile its provisions for the inevitable hard times ahead, storing away it’s bounty during a time of abundance. So, what is your bounty? Can we use this time to brainstorm with your teams, evaluate your strengths, plan a new campaign, gain new perspectives?

There is no such thing as waste in nature, so we must not let our businesses and all that we have worked for become a waste ground. Let’s gain inspiration and innovation from the world outside our door and thrive.

5. Acknowledge the reality of the current emotional landscape

You will be stressed in the current circumstances, possibly in ways you may not be fully aware of, and a stressed animal is an unpredictable animal. This means that the animal doesn’t always help itself. For example, have you ever witnessed a stressed sheep running into a barbwire fence?

For whatever reason, some prey animals can get stuck in fences around farmland, maybe because they have reached too far for that delicious mouthful. It is tremendously difficult to release them, unless you have wire cutters handy. Even when the wire is cutting deeply, a distressed sheep will struggle against its rescuers making its situation worse.

Logic, patience, calmness, all disappear at times like these. Rather than a fairly easy release what takes place is a battle of wills which is counterproductive for all involved.

It is important to remember that we are animals. We can get ourselves tangled up in metaphorical barbwire or other dangers. In these situations we often panic so much we make it impossible to extract ourselves, even when someone kindly offers help.

Rather than struggling, take a breath, learn to manage yourself, stop and think, take another calming breath and stay balanced.


The power of understanding your Natural Intelligence (NQ) will strengthen your resolve and give you greater confidence in your own ability.

NQ is the positive use of your instincts, insights, and perception. It requires everyone to be open to the senses, picking up invaluable information, by watching, listening, spotting patterns, energetic transfer, and recognising boundaries exactly like an animal in the wild.

All of this translates into a dynamic combination of self-awareness, multiple intelligences and highly developed interpersonal skills.  To handle the current crisis, to melt the frozen state our business are in, to thrive, rather than just survive, this is what we all need in our small businesses right now.

About the author

This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Rosie Tomkins, 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.Rosie is also the founder of the Natural Capital Consultancy, where her clients include the GB Olympic hockey and England rugby teams.

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