Tapping into Natural Intelligence for Leadership Development with Rosie Tomkins


Rosie Tomkins, an executive and leadership coach, joins me to talk about harnessing natural intelligence to drive transformation and enable individual growth for leaders.  

🌟 She explains how the fear of judgment can suppress innovation and creativity, stunting growth, and how she uses a mix of self-awareness, understanding energy levels, and connecting with nature, specifically through equine leadership, to initiate change.  

She shares examples from her experiences, demonstrating the resilience, adaptability, and inherent instincts present in nature that can guide and inspire better leadership. The conversation also covers her book, ‘Let Nature Be Your Compass’, which explores these concepts further.

Rosie Tomkins

Rosie Tomkins is a highly experienced Executive and Leadership Coach and Facilitator as well as an author on Leadership Development. She changes lives by empowering leaders using practical development solutions. At N-Stinctive she delivers Inspirational Team Development Days, Online Business Courses & Equine Retreats to businesses & organisations. Find out more at https://n-stinctive.com/


🔑 Key Themes & Takeaways:

Harnessing Natural Intelligence for Leadership:

🌿 Rosie Tomkins and I discuss the untapped power of natural intelligence in leadership. Through the story of Sully Sullenberger and the use of equine therapy, we highlight the importance of trusting one’s instincts and perceptions to make swift, decisive actions.

Adaptive Leadership Lessons from Horses:

🐴 The innovative approach of using horses for leadership training underscores the significance of non-verbal communication and adaptability. Horses mirror human behavior, offering profound insights into effective leadership and teamwork dynamics.

Nature as a Leadership Guide:

🌳 Rosie emphasizes that observing how animals like horses and lions lead and communicate can offer valuable lessons for human leaders. The statement “We are not in nature, we are nature” encourages leaders to see nature as a reflection of themselves and a source of inspiration.

Experiential Learning for Personal Transformation:

🔄 Experiential learning with horses allows leaders to become aware of their energy and its impact on others. Rosie’s work showcases how changing one’s energy can positively influence team dynamics and lead to personal and professional growth.

Innovative Problem-Solving and Team Dynamics:

💡 Through practical exercises with horses, leaders learn the importance of creativity in problem-solving and the dynamics of team roles under pressure. This approach leads to insights on organizational behavior and the need for adaptive leadership.

The Importance of Environment in Leadership:

🏞️ Rosie illustrates how altering the environment can lead to breakthroughs in how challenges are approached. This metaphorically applies to business, showing that changing perspectives or the context can unlock new solutions.

Internal Validation and Authentic Leadership:

🔍 The conversation touches on the concept of internal versus external validation. Rosie advocates for a leadership style that values personal fulfillment and purpose over societal approval, highlighting the strength found in authenticity.

We talk about:

  • 3:03 How can leaders embrace the instinctive wisdom found in nature

  • 9:13 Specific ideas of Natural Intelligence and the impact of it

  • 11:20 How can this become suppressed

  • 12:55 Equine leadership

  • 17:22 Horses’ learning

  • 22:03 How horses can bring insights to a team

  • 28:17 Becoming more conscious of your energy as a leader

  • 33:19 How often is she using horses with these teams

  • 36:01 ‘Let Nature Be Your Compass’ – her new book

  • 44:12 Rapid fire questions

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Rosie: I think we are becoming a culture. I don’t know how it is in the US, but certainly with, when I’m working with leadership teams here, there is a culture of politically correctness. You know, we feel that we have to say the right thing, do the right thing, be in the kind of crowd, not step up, not kind of, you know, it’s that kind of feeling that you’ve got to be careful because you’re going to be judged.

This continual self judgment and external judgment from others. And from my perspective, it really stunts growth, especially in creativity and innovation, because you’re always fearful of putting your neck on the line. And therefore you, you rather hide than do that. And it links to, you know, cultures of organizations, of course, and there are some amazing cultures out there.

But however, we still have this kind of fear factor going on that I mustn’t step out of line.

Carolyn: My guest on the show today is Rosie Tompkins. Rosie wrote a book called Let Nature Be Your Compass, introducing the power of natural intelligence. Now, if you’re watching this, you’re going to see that I am wearing something different than what I was wearing in the interview. And that’s because we just had a few little problems with some technology.

So I had to re record this opening. So you’re gonna hear in this conversation, Rosie and I talk about her experience as an executive and leadership coach and as a business leader and how she has used this notion of natural intelligence to drive transformation, innovation and Individual growth for leaders.

I know for me, having had the experience of doing equine leadership, it has really shifted my perspective on how transformational some of this work can be and how nature really can be a compass 

if we let it.

 Welcome Evolve listeners. I’m Carolyn Soir, your host of Evolve, a new era of leadership. And our guest today is coming to us from across the pond. Rosie Tompkins. Welcome to the show.

Rosie: My pleasure.

Carolyn: Yeah. Well, Rosie, I’m so glad your team reached out to me to see if you would be a good fit to come on the pod. And as soon as I saw what they had.

Shared with me they shared your book with me and it was such a, a fresh perspective. I thought having you on the show would be fantastic. So we are going to talk all about this amazing book you wrote about nature in leadership. How does that sound?

Rosie: Sounds fantastic. Yeah. Can’t wait.

Carolyn: Yeah. Yeah. So you do such a beautiful job in your, in your book. And, you know, talking about the, the wisdom of nature and weaving it with the art of leadership. And I’ll be honest, like, I didn’t really realize how much nature had to offer when it came to leadership.

 So. Could you share with us just like how, how leaders can embrace this, like instinctive wisdom that we find in nature

Rosie: Yeah. So again, like you, you know, my background is business. I never expected to be in this position. I’ve always loved horses, especially in nature, but I couldn’t really see how they would come together to teach us or for us to learn anything really. But it’s been an amazing journey for me and I’ve realized that actually I say it all the time, you know, we are not in nature, we are nature and we’re just a different species of, of animal.

And so it’s really important to understand how nature works in the wild and the lessons we can learn from that. So my work and the book Brings that home by explaining, you know, situations, stories, metaphor, anecdotes of what the world around us can bring us in terms of resilience, courage, all the, you know, the different values that we hold in business are demonstrated in the world around us.

Carolyn: and, and 

Rosie, can you just share a little bit? I know in the intro, I shared a little bit about your background, but you’ve had quite a diverse. Range of experiences in business, like from large, large organizations to your own business. Could you just share a little bit about your background there?

Rosie: Yeah, so I would always describe myself as this kind of serial entrepreneur. I know you call it entrepreneur, that’s a different spelling in, in, in America, but we call it entrepreneur. My first company was Adventure Sports and I was lucky enough to sell it into a PLC, which is a public limited company in the UK and was catapulted from my own kind of wisdom and kind of running my own ship to suddenly being in a corporate world as a director.

And I think there was huge learning on both sides from me going into a corporate environment without any experience and also for me turning up and having this kind of very different view on the world. But it did really make me think at that time, if I ever go into training I’m going to do it differently.

That’s where the first kind of idea came from because I could see that they were always doing these kind of critiques on staff and employees, you know, the 360 degree feedback forms, et cetera, et cetera, and seemed to be always concentrating on what we could improve on. You know, what, what we weren’t doing so well and how we could improve.

And my view is that’s possibly not the right way to look at it. You know, my view is that you should celebrate strength and really give people the chance to shine in their particular field. So I. Basically decided that I was going to have to find a way if I did go into training. And that was kind of 10 years before that I would certainly find a way of doing that.

My life has involved all of us at kind of high speed. So from getting a kind of a wonderful situation where I was a director in a PLC. I. Very quickly moved over, well, not quickly, but after about 18 months, I realized that the values of myself and the organization didn’t really fit. And I wanted to leave and move on to something else.

And I was headhunted into a consultancy, a business consultancy, where I learned all the kind of models in business, which I’d been lacking before. And I was able to mirror those and then from that, and I say, anybody who reads my book will find out that by chance I met somebody during that period who asked me to go and work with a, with a horse.

And I was horrified at this. Although I love horses, I


Carolyn: talked about that in the book.

Rosie: wasn’t expecting to be suddenly catapulted into an arena with a horse. But I was so amazed by the learning in that short period I had in an arena, not riding a horse, but on the ground with nothing, the horse was not, had no head collar or it was no ropes or anything.

It was free. It was at liberty and how we could learn from each other in that moment. And that experience made me think, wow, I can do this. I can bring nature into the boardroom.

Carolyn: Hmm. And that really unlocked a whole new perspective on leadership for you, didn’t it?

Rosie: It certainly did. And then I had the problem of how to make it palatable because for those of you who are in business who are listening, you know, if I was to walk into a boardroom and say, you know, I am a management consultant, however, I work with horses or nature, they would have probably thought I was a bit woo woo you know, a bit of a tree hugger.

So, I devised a way of kind of making it palatable by saying, you know, we all know that in business we need, we need IQ. You know, you don’t get a job without IQ, with your experience and your, your your track record and your learning and all the degrees and exams that you’ve done. Some of you will also be very steeped in EQ, which is emotional intelligence.

Which again is very, very prevalent in team building, et cetera, in organizations. Some of you would have heard the expression SQ, which is about spiritual intelligence. But not many people have heard about NQ. And of course I use that as

Carolyn: That’s what I wanted to 

Rosie: intelligence. 

Carolyn: And, and I think that that’s. Sorry, I was just going to say like, I think that’s the missing link, right? We’ve got IQ, EQ, and SQ. And I just want to put in there, spiritual intelligence doesn’t necessarily equate to a religion, but just like a higher purpose, right? That there’s something higher.

So I was, I was really, really, I thought that was brilliant what you did with NQ, this sort of natural intelligence. I’m a big student and enthusiast of the Enneagram. And so when I saw that it really equated with body wisdom or body intelligence. So I, and I love how you’ve called it natural intelligence.

So can you explain a little bit more about how And I want to talk a little bit more about your equine work. 

But can you share something specific around this natural intelligence that really woke up and, and transformed a leader 

Rosie: Okay. 

Carolyn: approach to leadership when you were able to introduce them to this NQ?

Rosie: yeah, I mean, this, this resonated massively within, in the boardroom because it seems like, you know, before it was like a three legged stool and there was a part missing and this natural intelligence was the part missing. So how I define it is that. Natural intelligence is a kind of positive use of your instincts, insights, and perceptions, which allows you to have the confidence to make a decision at speed.

And again, to give a little story or background to that many of your listeners will have heard of Sully Sullenberger, the pilot who landed on the Hudson River and saved 200 lives. My view on that is that there was a very experienced pilot. with huge number of hours behind him in the cockpit.

He was given instructions to turn the aircraft round and return to LaGuardia. In that moment, he used his natural intelligence in combination with all the other intelligences to land on the Hudson River and in doing so, save people’s lives. Another example to, to, which I would call natural intelligence.

is a friend of mine who’s a consultant was having problems with a patient who had, was very distressed. They had mental health problems and they couldn’t calm this patient down. And suddenly the door opens and in walks a nurse and the nurse starts to sing a song. And immediately she starts singing, the patient starts to calm down.

Now that’s not, that’s not in any book, you know, that is natural intelligence. What is appropriate at the time? What do I need to bring right now to this situation? And it happens, as I say, it’s speed. And that kind of natural intelligence has been suppressed in us all. And we all have it.

Carolyn: And that’s what I was going to ask you, Rosie, like,

 this is something we all have and it gets, it gets suppressed and maybe not for everybody. Why, how does it get suppressed and why do we let this happen in your experience?

Rosie: I think we are becoming a culture. I don’t know how it is in the US, but certainly when I’m working with leadership teams here, there is a culture of politically correctness. You know, we feel that we have to say the right thing, do the right thing, be in the kind of crowd, not step up, not kind of, you know, it’s that kind of feeling that you’ve got to be careful because you’re going to be judged.

This continual self judgment and external judgment from others. And from my perspective, it really stunts growth. Especially in creativity and innovation because you’re always fearful of putting your neck on the line. And therefore you, you rather hide than do that. And it, links to, you know, cultures of organizations, of course.

And there are some amazing cultures out there. But however, we still have this kind of fear factor going on that I mustn’t step out of line.

Carolyn: Yeah. Yeah. And it is the same here in in the U S and, and in Canada, I I’m in Canada, but like in North American culture that it’s, it is very similar fear, fear can predominate and we might not feel it at all. And I was told once you know, Carolyn, there’s no fear here. It’s a great place to work.

I’m like, it is a great place to work. And as leaders, we need to recognize that fear does drive a lot of behaviors. They can look good. These behaviors, they don’t have to look bad. And so 

I, I’d love to talk a little bit more about your, your experience with the horses, equine leadership. And I know for me in this past year, I’ve had two experiences.

So I’ve done two equine leadership retreats. The second one was incredibly powerful, incredibly powerful. And, and can you share with us. Just how these amazing creatures and, and why horses, how they can teach us so much about leadership in such a short period of time.

Rosie: So horses really provide us with a great opportunity for insights and bring about exceptional learning. And they do that because we’re having to relate to them in a different way. They obviously can’t speak to us, so it’s all from the body. And they basically are, are mirroring what we bring. So it gives us an opportunity to actually see ourselves as others see us.

Which is rare . So for, for me, it, it immediately when a team arrives, I just look at my horses and I can see what’s going on in the organization. It sounds really strange, but they’re, they’re mirroring what, what’s actually happening because they have to, an animal like a horse or any kind of prey animal has this incredible peripheral vision for a start, what’s going on, and they pick up energy from a great distance.

So they’re picking up information, they’re masters of energy transfer. So they’re picking up information from a distance and then they are, as I say, reacting to that. So, just to let you know, the first thing I always say to people when they’re working with horses is horses only need to know three things about us.

One is, am I safe? Can I trust you and who’s leading right now? And to my, to me, that’s the same question we ask when we meet each other as a human, when I meet you and that, that’s what they’re looking for. And if they don’t trust you or they don’t feel safe or you’re not leading, they’ll just move away because their life depends upon it.

Carolyn: And, and these, these obviously with horses, we can’t use words. I’d say with humans, we’re so used to using words that we don’t realize that that energy exchange goes on between humans, but with horses, they can reflect it back to us. Did I get that

Rosie: Yeah, absolutely. You know, we, we need as humans to kind of get out of our heads and come to our senses. We need to come back instead of this overwhelm of everything being in our heads, analytical, data driven, all of the speed that we move at. There is so much learning from how animals, you know, just take, taking something like rest, for example, I’m just writing an article about how animals rest.

I mean, they don’t go at a hundred miles an hour all the time. They, you know, even if they’re a cheetah or something, you know, a pre a real predator animal, it has spurts. When it, it, it, it uses, its you know, its speed in order to kill, but if it doesn’t make a kill, it will rest. You know, it has a capacity, it knows that it needs to take care of itself.

And again, that leads into the kind of fight flight situation that humans seem to be in at the moment where we’re either in fights or in flight, but we never seem to go into freeze. That we seem to have missed out that little, that, you know, that, that word freeze from our kind of environments. And it’s almost looked down upon if you want to take time out to reflect and rest.

And actually that’s where we recharge and we, you know, we, we build all sorts of thought processes. We need that time to, you know, to rest and recharge, and we can learn

that as a safe home animal. 

Carolyn: in the book, Yes. Yeah, I hear you. There’s a great, there’s a great show on Netflix right now about nature. I can’t remember what it’s called, but it just reemphasizes all of these things that you just said. In your, in your book, Rosie, you reference a word sentient, sentient, 

Rosie: Mm hmm. 

Carolyn: You know, when I read that, I consider myself relatively well educated and I, I looked it up.

I was like, why? I think I should know what this word means. And. It’s a word that I think is missing from our, our language. I wish we used more of it. 

Could you share a little bit about what it means and how horses use, use this? Is it sentience? Or their sentient

Rosie: Well, I call it sentient, sentient learning, so they are picking up information in a different way. So in my, my view, and again there’s another word that people in my circles use a lot, which is anthropomorphizing animals, which I try not to do, you know, try not to imagine what they’re feeling because we don’t know what animals really feel.

However, they are definitely working in a very different way. As I say, they are picking up information at speed. They have the ability to Work together as a team under pressure. They, they, as I say, they can’t fake it. They have no ego. There is now you can’t, there’s no kind of process that they go through.

They are just as they are in the moment being there in that being state. And so everything they’re responding to is from a feeling, a deep place of knowing or feeling. And we have that within us, but we’re not using it.

Carolyn: Yeah. Yeah. And, and Rosie and like horses travel in herds, correct? So they all play a different role and they’re always very aware of where each other are. That’s, is that true? Okay.

Rosie: Absolutely. So again what fascinates me, you know, the opening to most of my courses, I use the horses in a herd and I let the horses into the arena and I ask the clients to just watch what’s going on and see if they can see anything going on. Some people don’t think there’s anything going on at all, but of course the horses are moving their ears, which is their way that they communicate to each other and picking up information.

And they are. communicating to one another. And you can see very clearly the roles that are going on. So at the beginning, I let them walk into the arena. They’re very relaxed. They are kind of near each other, but not tight to each other, but there’s a definite pattern. And you can see where there’s an alpha female and alpha male within the herd.

And they have positions that they always And the rest of the herd also have roles that they play. So, for example, there are broodmares, and their job is to socialize the young. There is horses that find water, horses that find minerals. But when the horses come under pressure, and this is Fascinating to me when animals come into pressure, under pressure, and it can be just simply a change in the environment, or they think there’s something coming over the horizon they move together.

They move tighter together. And the alpha male and the alpha female take up their roles very quickly. And they move together and they follow the alpha female, which again is fascinating because the alpha female is not the strongest of the herd, in the herd, but she’s the wisest. She’s been there a long time.

She’s the matriarch, whereas the alpha male is the strongest, most fittest. You know, sometimes the youngest, often the stallion. And he’s at the back of the herd and his job is to protect. And he will round up the horses in front of him by biting them. You’ll often see that on films. And he’s biting them to push them in front of himself.

And then if he needs to, he will turn and fight. The, the whatever it is that’s coming after them, the, the, you know, the, the wolf or the, the prairie or the predator. So there’s no ego attached to any of that. It’s just a role. And those roles rotate. Sometimes as the horses get older, they change roles and change positions in the herd.

But as far as we can tell, there’s no ego attached to that.

Carolyn: Now, this sounds like a really high performing team. If I were to translate that into our business, our business language and amazing If I, if I look at business teams or I look at sports teams, the ones that do really well are the ones who are able to remove their ego, where the individuals recognize collectively their performance will be stronger together than individually.

And so. I know from my experience this year with, with the, the, the particular horse that I had a profound experience with her name was Selah, which means I think it’s a Finnish word for joy and it was profound. And. I had no idea how profound it could be. Could you share a specific story? I know you had a few in your book.

There was one in particular around a team that came in. 

And could you just share an example of how this equine leadership can help a team bring these unexpected insights 

Rosie: Okay. 

Carolyn: work together?

Rosie: Yeah, absolutely. The, the work is done basically through what, what the company needs or what the context is in the business. So it’s very important that this is not just walking around an arena with a horse, you know, a lot of people feel that, you know, that that’s what it is when they look at it, but it’s not that you need the context in order to work from that.

So as a management consultant, you know, I’ll be looking at. You know, for example, improving the bottom line or communication or, you know, anything within the normal challenges of a business. So I’m not sure which is the story you’re, you’re referring to, but one of the teams I had was very much a team that had been in a very unusual field that kind of online, it was an online company working in kind of warfare, which was kind of really unusual for me to be working in that.

Sector, but they’d been in these roles and positions for a very long time. And the, the CEO wanted a change. He wanted a step change. He wanted me to bring a disruptive experience into the business because they were losing their kind of customer base, and they were gonna have to be much more kind of innovative in order to bring new customers in.

So that was the context of the work. So I, I changed the, the, the exercises obviously according to the context. And in this particular occasion, I asked them to join together in some way, not, you know, either linking or holding hands, not always, you know, not all men don’t always want to link hands, but basically by linking together with a piece of string so that they would join together.

And then they were to find a way of getting a horse at liberty to jump a small, a very, very tiny little jump. And it was absolutely fascinating. One of us, basically one of them could speak and there was only one of them that could speak and they were, they would break away from the group. And after a few seconds, I would change the leadership and what immediately emerged was that every leader seemed to follow the one before, so there was no fresh thought processes going on.

There was no innovation. They were following each other and time after time they were failing. Because they weren’t thinking outside, they couldn’t see the peripheral at all. So they were just following on, following on, and they were not looking for the environment for any clues. So, you know, I let them really struggle and the horse was just bemused by them because he, you know, they had no idea what this team wanted them to do.

They were walking around the arena, as you can imagine with kind of arm in arm, but having no effect on anything. So again, the challenge there was stop what’s going on here. You know, what, why do you think you’re getting the same result? You know, very simple things in business. If you continue to do the same thing, you’re going to get the same result.

So what are you going to change? How are you going to change the leadership? What is needed right now in your company? what do you need to bring this to successful conclusion? And that’s how it really starts. And then from there, we can go back from the learnings from that, into the classroom and say, you know, what can we change?

What is it now that we need to be doing? What culture should we be in? What kind of leadership do we need right now to change, you know, take us in a new direction? Does that help at

Carolyn: So, did they get the horse? Oh, that’s, that’s a brilliant example. And I remember that one, the, the one specific, the other one I remember involved water. But I want to come back to the, this group. 

Rosie: And you’re right.


Carolyn: the horse?

Rosie: you’re right, Carolyn. It does involve water because the last one in the line, I will ask them to carry a bucket of water.

Carolyn: Okay.

Rosie: And they never asked me why. So, you know, this group were carrying around a heavy bucket of water. Horses weren’t interested in drinking the water. And they never asked why they were carrying a bucket of water.

And the learning from that is, what do we carry in our businesses that doesn’t serve us anymore? That, you know, we might have served as in, you know, a long time ago, but now we’re still carrying it and yet it’s, it’s of no use. And we need to be aware of these things.

Carolyn: Yeah. And so, so did they, did they finally get the horse to jump and what did they do with the water? What happened with this group? We want to know.

Rosie: So we did take a pause and we did, we, we, we, we, you know, we, we literally stepped out of the arena and we got together in a conf lab and, and talked through all the points I was saying, you know, what do we need to do differently? And, and slowly it was kind of slow dawning that there needed to be some creativity.

And the first thing they needed to do was look at the environment and make it easier seeing that the client, the horse is the client. for the client to, to kind of what I call sign the contract, you know, by going over the jump. And they could do that very easily by putting the jump, taking it from the middle of the arena to the side so that now the horse has not got anywhere to go other than over the jump.

Can you see, can you see it visually?

And then, and then again, it comes back to energy. Where do you put the energy in order to get a horse at liberty to just walk over a jump? And again, they were using, they were putting their energy at the horse’s head. And that’s the horse was saying stop. Whereas they didn’t understand that, you know, driving it from the back is where the energy needs to come from.

And as soon as they put that, they understood that, that the energy needed to change and the environment needed to change, they had success.

Carolyn: Well, and that brings up another fabulous point is this, this power of energy, which some people might be rolling their eyes and thinking, all right, now, now Carolyn and Rosie are going a little woo woo on us. And I will say there’s lots of evidence to support this. 

So how, how can leaders be more conscious of their energy so that they can guide their teams?

I know in, in my book, I, I talk about co regulation, which is, you know, how our nervous systems are talking to each other. Which I guess is an element of, of this energy, but I’m curious how you help leaders consciously become aware and buy into this notion of energy and how it can transform how they lead.

Rosie: Okay. So we all know that as a leader, you need to invest in self. It’s really important to keep the learning coming for yourself. And the awareness of how you come across is really important. So as a leader in any kind of field, whether it’s yourself or with your family, you need to be able to what I call become a detached observer.

of self. And by doing that, you will notice what brings you alive. When your energy goes high, what is it that makes it high? And that’s the starting point is to know what brings you alive and what makes you, you know, want to, for me, PowerPoint presentations are nearly always go to sleep on. I know that doesn’t bring my energy alive because I’m kinesthetic visual.

I’ve done the work. I know that I’m kinesthetic visual. So I think from a starting point is knowing yourself in order to lead others is the most important thing of all. And once you understand that you have control over your energy, it’s really easy to not use it as a weapon, but use it as a tool. So, for example if you know that you’re an extrovert and that you’re going into a meeting where people need a much more kind of introverted take on something, they need more data, they need more information, need more research, don’t go into that meeting talking in a kind of kinesthetic visual way because you’ll lose your audience. So, the more you dig into this stuff and realize the different levels of energy and what you can bring and when it’s appropriate to bring your energy up and when it’s appropriate to bring your energy down. And as I say, also to change and to use the tool to a, in order to run meetings, et cetera, and to get buy in.

For what you’re trying to, trying to bring forward. Does that make sense? It, it’s not energy

Carolyn: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Rosie: It’s not that kind of motivational energy, you know, that yee haw, let’s all do it together. It’s not that at all. It’s about a different kind of energy

Carolyn: And my, my guess is, is that this experience, this experiential learning that goes on with the horses shows people right, right then and there, that there is energy that they, they don’t know that they’re exuding. And it’s, it’s, just kind of a reminder, like, Hey, it’s there. The horse is picking it up off of you.

Rosie: and, and, and incredibly how quickly you can change energy. So like you say one of the leading, the exercise I use at the beginning is to show how I can move a horse from literally nothing to flat out kind of gallop in seconds. By doing so little and that, that’s really important to be able to see that how you as a kind of a, say, whatever your weight is, but you can move half a ton of horse very easily with your own energy. And that’s incredibly surprising to people. Yeah.

Carolyn: Can you describe a little bit, like, is there something, how do you, how do you move that energy? Cause my guess again, I’ll come back to my own experience with the horse. I, I got caught up in my head, like think it, think it for them, think it and, and try and like, share it by osmosis. But how do you embrace these other elements of energy

Rosie: So, you know, it’s difficult to do it online. I mean, there is some of this in my book, obviously, about how we use energy, but there are lots of exercises I do and I build up over the day so that people get confidence in their own ability. But fundamentally, at the beginning, just to show how. We can move something like half a ton of horse very quickly is to change the environment or to change something in the environment.

We don’t know what it is they’re seeing, but in this occasion, I was using a flag. There’s no harm to the horse, nothing at all. It was just something that it wasn’t used to. My particular horse hates umbrellas. So if I just shake an umbrella just on the ground, he goes from naught to, you know, 90 in seconds, because there’s something in that umbrella that he doesn’t like the look of or the noise of and it changes his energy very, very quickly.

And again, with a team, once you get to know a team in an organization, you’ll know what’s appropriate for that team. Do you need to be, you know, really kind of a say motivational or do you actually need to step back? Because a lot of the times when people think you need to step forward, you actually as a leader need to step back.

So that’s really important lesson as well.

Carolyn: Yeah. Wow.

 Are you, are you with the horses like every day with these teams? Like it sounds like there is no shortage of learning that goes on with your, with your clients.

Rosie: So, I don’t always use the horses. I mean, obviously, it’s not always possible. So, as I said, I’m a management consultant by background. I just use nature and horses some of the time. And I do travel a lot. So, I travel in Europe. I’m doing a lot of work in Europe at the moment with big corporations.

And, and also, I’d love to come more to America. There are lots of people doing work in America, but mainly on the therapy side, which I am not. Qualified to do my expertise is in business and how I can use the learnings with what’s going on in the paddock. I’m like a bridge to what’s going on in the organization.

And because of my coaching background, I can challenge and understand the business kind of acumen and what’s needed and challenge it from you know, a position of knowing how a business works. So I hope that’s why people like me. I pick up very quickly. 

What’s going on.

Carolyn: and pick up on the energy and you forgot to add in there your polo background,

Rosie: Oh,


Carolyn: That’s, how you built this sort of, I guess, connection with horses, I’m guessing.

Rosie: Yeah, well, again, you know, I, I was very, very fortunate. I mean, it sounds like I’ve lived a very blessed life, but I didn’t come from a horse background. So it’s even more strange but I did in in in, I did play polo. And when you play polo, you cannot win with a team unless you work in a collaborative way.

It doesn’t matter how good you are on a polo team, it’s not, it’s not that one person that makes the goal, you know, happen. You have to collaborate. You have to come together. You have to be you know, bring your best game to the table for everybody. Otherwise you, you won’t get away with it. And I realized that would be a great metaphor in business.

We need to all bring our game to the table and not be concerned about the ego who scored the goal, but actually, you know. Bringing, bringing ourselves together and saying we did it together. That’s the most important thing for me, that teamwork. And I also believe that it should be rotational. So if your expertise doesn’t lie in the particular, you know, culture of an organization, you should be able to follow as well as lead.

And again, I show that with the horses, how important it is to be a good follower as a leader and not have this ego attached to, I always need to make the decisions. I always need to know what we’re going to do. That’s not how business should run, in my opinion.

Carolyn: Yeah. It’s such a beautiful blend of all of these aspects of your life. It’s, it’s quite it’s quite amazing. 

Now, Rosie, the title of your book is, it’s with nature and forgive me, let nature I can’t remember where, and I don’t have it on my, what’s the title of your book again?

Rosie: It’s called Let Nature Be Your Compass.

Carolyn: Let nature be your compass. Now, it’s not let horses be your compass. It’s let nature be your compass. And so you gave some examples in your book about other animals. So you referenced the cheetah earlier. Can you just share a few other perspectives about how nature can be our compass? Not, not just horses.

Rosie: Yeah, so actually in the book, there’s very few references to horses. It’s all about the natural world. And it goes from literally the little spider weaving a web. You know, that little spider that, as you open the door, he’s made this beautiful web, and you sweep it away without even thinking. You know, and that little spider has to come back, and he’s a magical architect, the way he builds that web.

And he’s resilient because he has to do that many times in the day. So again, just that simple example of a little spider on a web. Nature’s there for everybody, so it’s not always about horses. The minute you open the curtains in the morning, nature gives you constancy. You know that it’s going to get light.

You know that it’s going to go dark later on. That constancy of nature gives us this wonderful sense that everything’s going to be okay. The fact that we have seasons, you know, I don’t know how much, many seasons you have in America, but certainly in the UK, we, we’re now going into winter where, you know, everything’s frosted over and the fact that these animals have to survive and live or hibernate in order to get through and the learning that, you know, they have so much more to contend with in the daily life than we do.

is a great kind of leveler really for thinking about our lives compared to theirs. But yeah, I’ve got lots of examples in the book and lots of stories but probably my favorite one at the moment is the one about, I don’t know whether I mentioned it to you, about the horse and the ranger. Did I mention that one?

And the horse call. So the horse, okay, so I was lucky enough to go to Colorado to, to a dude ranch with my son for a week. And while I was there, I heard a story about the rangers up who, you know, take out people on horseback who guard the people or look after the people when they’re riding.

And in this particular case, it was a female ranger. She’d been given a massive big horse called tank. And he, oh sorry, he’s called Tonk, Tonk, not Tank, Tonk.

Carolyn: talk.

Rosie: And Tonk was a little bit big to be a range horse but he was, he’d been working with cattle so he know, knew how to shoulder in and how to block and he had no fear around.

cattle. So this girl took him out, she was a ranger, she was at the front of the group, and there was a families with children on horseback following on behind. And suddenly, from nowhere, out to the side of a woodland, came a deer, and it ran straight into tonk. into the side of this horse. And before this range you could think, why would a deer run into the side of a horse?

She suddenly turned and of course the deer was running away from a grizzly bear. And for me this was amazing. The grizzly bear came out all the horses bolted there were, all these people were kind of being raced around and bucked off their horses because they were frightened of the bear, but Tonk stood his ground and this ranger stayed on the horse.

Unfortunately, one of the little children fell off the horse. This is a true story, and was on the ground. And the grizzly bear was bearing down on this small child. And the ranger and Tonk decided to try to ride off the grizzly. And this incredible story of incredible kind of tenacity of trying to shoulder every time that the grizzly lunged, the horse was shouldering in and moving in different directions till eventually the bear gave up and ran away and the child was saved.

And to me, that that combination of tenacity and incredible courage that they both demonstrated at that moment in time and was certainly, they were airlifted into some news, newsroom somewhere in the States and they became heroes overnight. But it’s, that’s kind of story of You know, how normally a horse would run, it didn’t, and it, you know, they worked together as a team.

I think it’s a wonderful kind of example of tenacity. But there are many more stories like that in the book not just with humans, but with animals on their own, and how they, you know, work together collaboratively for the good of the whole. So I do hope people will,

Carolyn: And again, yeah, and that’s, that’s what, that’s what I wanted to point out is I know we kind of honed in on the horses because there’s such an amazing experiential opportunity there. But what I really took from, from your book was just how resilient and adaptable we are. As a part of nature, like you said earlier, we, we are nature and, and we are inherently resilient and adaptable.

And, and I really found your book gave these fantastic lessons and reminders that when we can follow our instincts, when we allow things to happen and be in the moment with them, we’re able to navigate through uncertainties or disruptions in a very different way.

Rosie: yeah, and it comes back to that natural intelligence again, doesn’t it? Because then we’re freeing up this natural intelligence to guide us. And it’s this, I say, deep sense of knowing that we need to listen to and we’re ignoring it. We’re, you know, we’re suddenly thinking, well, that can’t be right. But you don’t have time in these situations always to kind of be analytical about it and analyze it.

And that’s when, you know, we really need to return to who we are. And as I say, everybody has this within them, and it also helps with, I call it validation, internal and external validation. We’ve become, you know, so worried about external validation, what people think of us, how many hits we get on our podcasts, whatever it might be.

However, it internal validation, which animals have. They don’t care what people think or other animals think of them. They just are on purpose doing what they should be doing. And I say, if we could free ourselves from that continual criticism and live the life that we want to live without that fear, it would be a blessing for everybody.

Carolyn: Yeah. Yeah. And I, I can attest to how powerful the experience is and we do all have that within us. I didn’t think for a long time I didn’t really have a strong connection with nature and I’m finding, finding my way back to it. Because I know when I say that it didn’t have a strong connection to nature, I’m basically saying.

I didn’t have a strong connection to myself and, and to me that, that was just the most wonderful message of your book and for leaders. 

So I hope, I hope that people will be inspired to pick up your book and Rosie, can you tell us a little bit about where can they find it? Where can they buy it?

Cause I know you’re over, you’re over the pond but how can they find it? And then how can they find out more about you?

Rosie: Great, thank you very much. Well, the book is on Amazon. It’s on American Amazon as well. So please do buy it on Amazon. It’s on Kindle. You can connect with me on my website, which is Instinctive, it’s a little bit unusual. N and then hyphen S T I N C T I V E, or otherwise, please do connect with me on LinkedIn, which would be wonderful to speak to you on LinkedIn.

Anyone who’s interested in my work. And if there’s any opportunities for me to come your way and run a course, please do get in touch.

Carolyn: Yeah. Well, yeah, we’d love to have you over here in, in, in North America and Canada and the U S now Rosie to close off the podcast. I ask my guests three questions. Are you, are you game for that?

Rosie: I certainly am.

Carolyn: All right, 

so the first question is about self awareness, and I know we’ve talked a fair amount about this in, in the podcast today is there a story, a short anecdote you can share with us where your self awareness really, there was a moment where it just like taught you something really big about yourself?

Rosie: So, I’m going to share two, if that’s okay. One from business. So, just going back to that moment when I was catapulted into the corporate world. And initially, I’m, I’m very extrovert. I like bright clothes, as you can see. And it’s in my book how quickly I started or they started to want to clone me.

And the so as I say, for the first couple of months, I was quite happy. They bought me for a reason to bring, you know, new kind of thinking and creativity to the business. But very quickly I started to feel Very uncomfortable. And I’m sure some of your listeners have been in that situation where you don’t like, feel like you’re fitting in.

So, it just amuses me now because I started to go shopping for these kind of gray suits and two pinstripe suits so that when I was in the boardroom, I wouldn’t stand out. And then there was that moment of kind of understanding that how ridiculous this was that, you know, again, I was looking for that external validation.

And actually, they bought my business for a reason, and the more I dumb myself down, how does that serve anybody? So that was a huge kind of moment of awareness for me. And the second one really was a personal one. Was that I had no idea that I was missing nature, and you just mentioned that yourself, until I was researching in the UK, and I went to a beautiful area called Exmoor.

It’s a national park. It was a beautiful, beautiful evening. The sun was shining. And as I came over the top of a hill there was this incredible vision of these beautiful wild horses in the dappled sunshine, you know, just as the sun was setting. And it was just magnificent. It was just me alone with these incredible animals.

And I got out of the car and I just broke down. I remember getting on my hands and knees and thinking, what am I doing? You know, I thought I was having some kind of nervous breakdown, but actually it was an understanding that I’d been for so long without nature and I needed to come back. And it really woke me up to what I needed to do.

And that was the real turning point. It’s in, in the book. But I changed my life actually from that moment. I, I moved out of London. I actually ended my marriage. Because I knew that I was missing something really, really important. So, those are my two moments of powerful self awareness.

Carolyn: Ooh. Those are profound. Yeah. Very profound.

 Now I’m, I’m curious to hear we’ll get into the second question. What is a, a practice or ritual that you have that helps your nervous system stay calm or return to a place of calm?

Rosie: Okay, so again, I know not, not everybody has access to horses, but if you do get the opportunity I find that for me. Being with animals, we all know that with dogs that this happens, but for me, going to my horses, putting a hand on their heart and a hand on their shoulder and just standing with them and breathing has a profound effect on my nervous system.

And it has now been proven, which is extraordinary. They came to test me from the Heart Math Association, which is an organization that looks stress in organizations. So they put electrodes all over me and tested me. I tested my heart variant pattern by putting me under stress by asking me maths questions.

And obviously very quickly, my, my pattern was very, very sharp. The, you know, the line went very, very up and down. And then we moved back to the horses again and how quickly that started to even out when I was with the horses. And the reason for that is that they’re pulling us into their electromagnetic field.

And this is now proven that their hearts are much bigger than ours. And so in, you know, most animals, that’s the case in big animals. So we get pulled into their electromagnetic field. And that causes this calming effect on us. And as you know, lots of little girls and little boys are attracted to horses when they’re growing up.

And they go to the horses when they’re upset. And that’s the reason is that it brings us to that wonderful place of calm. So that’s my ritual.

Carolyn: beautiful ritual and, and Rosie, is it, could we, could we use pets if we don’t have a horse? Could pets offer like a dog or maybe not cats cause cats don’t really like to share the same way. But maybe cats could, could we use pets the same way?

Rosie: I would say anything, especially trees. I know we use, we laugh about it, don’t we now, but you know, you say tree huggers and how we just look down upon them and now it’s proven again that the trees are, have relationships with each other and they’re passing information. So. Yeah. You know, anything like that, anything that’s living that you can put your hands on, because it gives you this amazing sense of not being alone, being connected with something else, another living thing on the planet, and it can be anything, you know, at all.

A flower, a, you know, a tree yeah, yeah, anything.

Carolyn: Wow. Ooh, that’s pretty powerful.

 Last question, Rosie. Has to do with music and how music can connect us to something bigger than ourselves. So my question to you is, is there a song or a particular genre of music that does that for you? Make you feel connected to something bigger than yourself?

Rosie: So I thought about this for a while, actually. It was an interesting question. And for me, it’s anything to do with, like, drumming. Anything to do with bass. That’s a deep, male voice. You know, someone like Tom Waits or Louis Armstrong. That gravel voice. And I think that, Is because it’s quite primal and again with animals, you know, I thought about the animal, the music that animals make so, you know, I don’t know whether you’ve heard geese honking when they’re coming into land.

Often they fly over my house in formation and they make this incredibly deep honking noise. And to me, that’s like, an incredible vibration that goes through my body. So anything that’s got a deep. Bass sound to it like a donkey brain or you know, something like that. Or a man singing a deep bass voice.

And I think it’s more to do for me rather than anything that vibrational connection piece that’s going on. And that makes me feel, again, really connected to as you say, to another,

Carolyn: When you say that, Rosie, I’m, what comes to mind for me is just the the deep and the base the strength of the music from the Lion King,

Rosie: oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.



Carolyn: of, yeah, and, and then the voice of oh my gosh, who’s, who’s the actor that has that deep, beautiful, rich voice? It’s not Morgan Freeman.

I’m forgetting his name and you’re probably listening to this everyone and you’re yelling the answer out at us. I don’t remember what his name is, but it’s this big, beautiful, deep luscious voice. So Rosie, thank you so much for coming on the show and for bringing such a A wonderful blend of your experience of nature of, of your life into, into your work.

Thank you so much. Really appreciate you coming on the show with us today.

Rosie: thank you for asking me. It’s a pleasure.

Carolyn: And to all of you listening out there, I hope You have a chance to pick up Rosie’s books. Perhaps you already have found this amazing connection with nature and let us know what you think. Let us know some of your stories. Thanks again for tuning in and please let us know what you think of the show and like and subscribe.

It really helps us get more profile and bring these incredible insights to more leaders like you. Thanks for tuning in.

 I hope you enjoyed that episode with Rosie and perhaps you have some of your own experiences with nature or with equine programs that has really catapulted your leadership and your awareness. I’d love to hear about them if you do. I know I’ve had some profound. Moments with a horse named sailor over the past year and being connected to nature and really to this bigger collective planet has really deepened my level of awareness and realization that.

I’m just one little thing, part of a bigger, amazing collective. Thank you for tuning in to Evolve and I’d love it if you could like, subscribe, review my podcast and share it with some colleagues and friends. The more we can get this word out about new paradigms, new ways of leadership, the more we can create.

collective change in our world. And if you’d like to find out more about me, I am at carolynswara. com. Thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you at our next episode. 


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