Amazing technological advances across the world have allowed mankind to benefit in a myriad ways, but as we move towards an ease in the global COVID-19 lockdown constraints, is our modern way of operating what we really want? Will it have a long-term positive affect on our way of living?
Whatever we decide now will have a long-lasting effect – particularly on our younger generation and the leaders of tomorrow.
In order to make the right choices we need to reconnect with our own natural and intuitive knowledge. Our reliance on “expert advice” is ever present in all aspects of our lives and careers. These experts tell us what to eat, how to decorate our homes and how to bring up our children – the list goes on. We have leadership models or archetypes, we follow rules and often observe constraints that no longer serve us, we look to medical technology to heal us and keep us healthy, and we take courses on how to manage people.
Although there is a place for this, there is also a downside; we’re in danger of losing our initiative and our natural flair. We no longer trust our own judgement.
The COVID-19 pandemic presents us with an opportunity to rethink our approach, to reconnect with nature and our inner ‘gut feelings’. Maybe it is time to allow nature to guide us down the right path?
Nature can reconnect us to ourselves, the comfort of birdsong, a view of the vast sky and its changing canvas, or the wind on our cheek – each can bring an element of peace. The main powerful ingredient is that it takes us into the present moment. It makes us savour the here and now instead of always striving for the goals of tomorrow. By looking to nature, we can learn new ways of being and thinking. New ways to develop our business and lead our teams; ways that may serve us better in the future and will help us enjoy the present.
Here are The Five Cs – the life and business navigational tools we can learn from nature:
CONSTANCY – Let nature anchor you in the eye of this storm. Consider that penguins throughout the Antarctic are forced into a situation of lockdown for their survival – every year! Their natural cycle is to maximise energy intake in the easier times, foreseeing the challenging months ahead with a well-designed plan for survival. Let’s not forget as well, that penguins survive their harsh winters by huddling together in unity and support. Those animals on the outside who brunt the biting winds are quickly rotated back into the middle of the pack to make sure that no individual alone has to bear all of the burden. They endure, they survive, they thrive.
The lesson: Hard times don’t last forever and together we can bear the brunt of the worst of it for the benefit of all. Don’t dwell on the bad, rather look to the future, and while we travel the road to a post-COVID world look at how you can help others and share the burden of travel.
CONSISTENCY – We’ve all heard the analogy of the ‘tortoise and the hare’. Take one step at a time, be surefooted, do not race to fake conclusions based on false information – about your work, relationships, or the future.
The lesson: Now is the time to be more like the tortoise. Trust in the path that you are on and that you will reach your goal, no matter how long it takes. There is no need to rush back and forth, no need to panic and make rash decisions. Stop. Take stock. Think. Trust your instincts.
CONGRUENCY – Nature has the incredible ability to keep itself in balance, adapting to new conditions in order to thrive. Think of the ‘urban fox’, that is, a regular fox that has learned to thrive in a city environment. Naturally speaking, these animals are better suited to the countryside, yet they have learned to balance ‘need and survival’ to make the most of living outside their chosen comfort zone. Mankind can learn from this by seeking alignment, unity, and harmony with the world around us. Whether that’s keeping our business afloat, or connecting with family, or even learning to live with the constraints of lockdownThe lesson: Seek to embrace the world and situations around you. Don’t fight them or wallow in the apparent unfairness of a situation. Instead find ways to adapt and inevitably you will learn to thrive in that new environment, no matter how ‘unnatural’ it may feel.
COURAGE – This is embodied by the hatchling that flings itself off a mountaintop with the hope that it will fly. This tacit knowledge is passed down through generations. The young bird doesn’t need to be told it can fly, or taught how to fly, it just has the courage to leap with the inherent confidence that everything will be ok. Imagine having the courage to trust our natural instincts more often, instead of always seeking external validation?
The lesson: Take inspiration from nature to build your courage and trust your natural instincts. By all means take baby steps first (rather than flinging yourself off the cliff) and trust that your confidence will grow with every step.
COLLABORATION – That is to say, collaboration over competition. There is of course a great amount of competition in nature, whether it be for food, security or a mate. Yet nature’s ability to collaborate, even between species that would naturally be at odds with one another, is one of its greatest assets. Imagine the classic mutualistic relationship of a plover eating leftover food scraps from inside the mouth of a crocodile. The competitive food chain dictates that the crocodile should eat the bird at the expense of any other benefit, yet it doesn’t. Instead it allows the plover to clean its teeth and reduce the chance of infection. A truly natural form of oral hygiene!
The lesson: Consider the value of collaboration for mutual benefit. This is particularly important through the current global economic downturn, when we are all seeking the same goals. Collaboration over competition will often help us find a sustainable solution for the future of our business.
By using nature as our compass and our inspiration we can find a new way forward for our own lives and our business. As leaders we can forge a new and improved future – one that will serve us better. Yes, there may be some bumps along the way, but ultimately if we stay the course (like the tortoise), help others (like the penguins and the plovers) and have courage (like the baby chicks) then we will emerge stronger with a life and business that more closely matches what we want for ourselves and our families.