Tell a Story…with Mother Nature as your Muse. Story-Telling Tricks au naturel. The Story of Barbara B., Successful Executive and Engineer

Can You Write Your Own Story With Mother Nature As Your Muse?

Can You Have Mother Nature As Your Secret Creative Ally?

Story Telling and Metaphors from the Source, Mother Nature Herself

“The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.” - Gregory Bateson

Our thought processes and neurology create and respond to stories.

Life is not only about discovering yourself, but life is also about creating and re-creating yourself so that you can always rejuvenate your story.

The need to create is an instinctual, natural force much like our survival mechanisms so for this reason every person has the ability to create. Our neurology is circuited in such a way that although it can create patterns and concepts on its own, it needs you, its guiding force to direct and curate these to work to your advantage. If you don’t someone or something else will.

Everything changes at such a rapid tempo it sometimes seems as if we are all in the whirlwind of a turbo-driven discovery expedition.

We have never had so much new information, literally at our fingertips, just a mouse click away.

When confronted with new information it often requires us to completely revamp our lives and our perspectives – on multiple levels, of course!

It is already the case that most of us have to learn new jobs and expand our skills-sets on a routine basis and, more often than not, this re-tooling regularly requires us to phase out our old selves to create new selves – in the future, perhaps every 7-10 years.

These disruptions, of course, mean that, perforce, creativity is indispensable! Indeed, creativity is an ultimate essentiality: it is a hard skill, soft skill and everything in between combined! It is the sine qua non for survival.

In order to find “creative solutions”, as some of my clients and I have discovered, it can help to “mirror nature’s metaphors” in order to spark new ideas.

When you think of the chaotic and topsy-turvy world we live in think about nature: how does nature achieve such brilliant creations and manage change with such elegance, grace and agility?

Client Case : Barbara B.

Grasshoppers vs. locusts, re-writing your story, esprit de corps, insect swarming vs. the human brain…you know, things like that.

We all have heard or read about the havoc swarms of locusts can wreak by completely annihilating everything in their way.

Locusts are aggressive, ambitious, fearless and very extroverted. An opposite in the insect kingdom may well be the grasshopper, known as introverted, shy and they even retreat from other grasshoppers.

Therefore, many are somewhat gobsmacked to learn that locusts are actually grasshoppers that have undergone enormous behavioural changes. Under certain conditions such as drought, grasshoppers crowd together in close proximity in the attempt to scavenge the last bits of remaining nourishment. In doing so, the increased physical contact between each other and their hairy hind legs leads to a tickling sensation which in turn causes an increase in serotonin. This intoxicated state results in a werewolf-like morphing which causes the insect to change colour, eat much more, become attracted to each other and breed incessantly.

According to Professor Peter Kruse, two of nature’s great inventions are the human brain and the collective intelligence of the swarm. It is in the nature of these inventions to spark and enable creativity.

He believes that the human brain is a “complex and dynamic system that enables us to live with complex dynamic systems; that is, only because our brain produces incalculable dynamics are we able to somewhat accommodate incalculable dynamics. The brain is a grand invention of nature which can deal with vagaries. The other great invention of nature is the collective intelligence created by swarming which is at least equally as great a feat of intelligence. There are basically only two assertive mechanisms and one of them is that of colonial insects. Insects can be found all over the world and are unbelievably successful as a species….they have a dynamic and complex system like humans, and the only difference is that the result is due to the number of individuals, rather than of just an individual. But the principle is the same: it is highly interactive, has an efficient feedback mechanism and can create patterns of order.”

When I thought about the swarming effect I thought about team work. The “swarm effect” is already enormously powerful but taking it a step further, with a “great feat of intelligence” the human brain and a team can provide a rich preponderance of performance potential – if of course the chemistry synergises.

Enter Barbara - CEO of a precision engineering company. Barbara studied engineering and was the only female student in a class of over 150. She took over the company from her father 30 years ago and has taken only short holidays since. (Between us, I don’t think she has ever taken holiday but….)

Barbara presents with the issue of being one of those workaholics who refuses both to take a proper holiday and to delegate anything. She is convinced that without her presence, the company would collapse into dust. After several stern health warnings from a number of specialists that she had to adopt a more relaxed lifestyle, she decided to seek out new perspectives.

I asked her if she knew who Richard Branson is. She knew him as the flamboyant founder of the Virgin Group but not much else. I gave her the assignment to discover Branson’s opinion about delegating. She was surprised to find that, due to his dyslexia, Branson has had to delegate many tasks to others or otherwise they would not have got done properly. Indeed, Branson attributes much of Virgin’s stellar success to his delegating.

The intervention also referred to how shy, innocent grasshoppers became super performers in a swarm: the grasshoppers are a team of people with great synergy potential.

The look on her face when I mentioned grasshoppers and locusts was priceless!

I suggested that she should start a “small swarm” with a few trusted and liked employees and delegate a rather insignificant task to them. The idea behind this was that once the first domino falls, the remaining dominos often fall into place.

Barbara and I discussed the time when she first took over the company from her father. Was he also stingy about delegating? In a somewhat shaky voice, she admitted that her father was a most

effective delegator; otherwise, she would not be where she is today. I then suggested she should recall and implement how he delegated – his communication, body language etc. Gradually, she became able to delegate without looking over anyone’s shoulder.

While on her search for this information she remembered how much discipline and determination it took for her to study engineering. It was a subject she was not really enthused about but engineering “ran in the family”. She remembered how helpful it was to form a study team with other students. She then incorporated these forgotten resources and began to delegate.

We followed suit with her holidays. She agreed a few times to take three days off during the middle the week and NOT work at the weekend! We started small and have gleefully watched the other dominos tumble.

Barbara has since become relaxed enough to regularly practice meditation, creating a healthy virtuous circle.

Additional coaching tools were then implemented as appropriate.

Right from the beginning, it was Barbara who took the reins of change in her hands and guided her horses in the direction which was best for her.

Grand Finale

Barbara was able to write and re-write her own new story by utilising two key practices: first, she mirrored models in nature. Second, she (re) discovered and (re) implemented the resources she already possessed and have previously used.

Indeed, she is the hero of her own story.


Life is not only about discovering yourself, but life is also about creating and re-creating yourself so that you can always rejuvenate your story.

Dear Readers,

Now it is your turn for an assignment: Think of a something you would like to achieve and associate yourself into nature. Which model or solution can you find there? Remember, Mother Nature is always ready to show her hand. Whilst doing so you may even discover some of your long-lost resources while they are watching a soap opera.

I would love to hear about your experience! Just send me an email. Your response will be held in utmost confidence.

NB: Client names have been changed to protect identity.


Links about Richard Branson

Locusts and swarming

Professor Peter Kruse – (1955-2015) was a German psychologist and taught Organisational Behaviour at the University of Bremen, Germany

Link to the interview with Professor Kruse (in German)