Interview With y Camilla Gray-Nelson, Author of Cracking the Harmony Code: Nature's Surprising Secrets for Getting Along While Getting Your Way

Camilla, can you expand on your story. How did you get from where you were to where you are today? And what was your “Come-to-Nature” moment?

Life for me started on our family farm. I could speak Animal before I ever learned English, spending countless hours among the cows, horses, dogs and sheep on our farm. All through grammar and high school, I lived on the farm and when not doing homework, I was out with the animals and studying them -- seeing their group dynamic of leaders and followers and how they lived together in relative harmony and peace. I did not realize, until years later, how valuable that knowledge would end up being.

Fast forward, I came of age in the Women’s Movement and graduated college feeling I could achieve anything, yet also with a feeling that I was owed respect and the results I wanted. Unfortunately, that did not serve me well in my first few jobs, where I could not understand why my bosses were not appreciating or promoting me. I jumped around a bit, job to job, looking for an office that appreciated me. After a number of years, I tried running my own business, but I failed there, too – at least 4 different times. I might add here that along the way, I had also failed at 2 marriages. Bottom line, I found myself broke, alone, frustrated and confused.

In those dark moments, I could not help thinking of the animals around me (I was still on a farm) and their peace and harmony. My Come to-Nature-Moment was realizing that maybe I could try their methods of getting along and their methods of getting what they wanted. I studied them with a new intent. Animals don’t feel entitled to things or positions in the group; they earn them. I got rid of my entitlement attitude. Animals don’t blame others for their failures. I began to take responsibility.

The animals in positions of authority don’t generally fight to get what they want; they inspire others to follow. Those not in charge do not begrudge their lack of power or position; they foster friendship with those that have it to encourage their willing cooperation. They, too, got what they wanted from others without having to be an authority figure. It was an entirely different path to success!

I made a turn-around in my life, modeled the “new me” after the animals I knew and the wisdom of the ages, and it transformed my life. My new business grew! I hired employees, whom I now understood from a whole new perspective - as instinctive beings - and managed them Nature’s way, influencing through instinct. They’re happy and loyal. I remarried and this time, it worked. We celebrate 30 years this year.

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How can looking at people as instinctive beings, rather than the thoughtful humans we expect them to be, help reset our relationships as well as understand the world around us?

Seeing all human emotion, action and reaction from the perspective of the Inner Animal, rather than a thoughtful self, can change everything in how we relate to one another and how we make sense of our world.

Stop expecting people to be rational! Your husband isn’t arguing with you over money, and your kids aren’t being disrespectful to spite you; those behaviors are actually deeply rooted survival instincts that probably have more to do with power, resource guarding and leadership voids coming from their Inner Animal, their instinctive core. Understanding that deeper source helps minimize anger and allows us to address any relationship problem more compassionately and logically instead of emotionally. If you want to talk “emotional intelligence”, it’s all about understanding each other as instinctive beings.

Even looking at the news on television can become less upsetting and more interesting, as you begin to understand the hidden instinctive forces that motivate everything from protests to philanthropy.

Your new book is titled “Cracking the Harmony Code.” What IS the Harmony Code?

I studied Nature’s unwritten social rules that allow animals to live in organized harmony with each other, getting what they want and need without endless bickering and fighting. Once I decoded Her “system”, I put it all together and called it The Harmony Code.

There are 3 main elements to the Code:
  • A 6-tiered Harmony Pyramid, which, like Maslow’s pyramid of personal needs, must be scaled in the correct order to achieve lasting harmony with others. Before the Pyramid is climbed, however, there are
  • 7 Animal Secrets one must know to be prepared (including the fact that humans are animals, too, and knowing the unseen instincts that often drive the behaviors we see on the surface. Lastly, all animals, including humans, can be grouped roughly into
  • 4 Personality and Action Archetypes. Knowing which Archetype and Action Style will be most successful in a given situation is crucial, and the Code reveals how to maximize cooperation by choosing the right one.
The Harmony Code has allowed animals to live together in peace for millennia, getting what they need from others using influence through instinct instead of aggression or fighting. As human animals ourselves, this can be our code for peace and cooperation as well!

Does your book offer any practical advice to help readers put this new approach into action?

Absolutely! The second half of the book is devoted entirely to real-life scenarios. There is a chapter on Surviving the “Office Pack” with advice ranging from how to get a promotion from your boss to dealing with co-worker cliques to getting employees to meet deadlines. Another chapter, Six Effective Mama-Dog Methods to Manage Your Kids, explains the most common parenting problems from Nature’s perspective and how to solve them by influencing through instinct instead of argument. The last chapter. Five Relationship-Savers for You and the Big Dog in the Bedroom, is about successful relationships. These are the trickiest of all challenges, and the book explore the reasons why instinct and intellect often collide in these most intimate relationships.

There will also be a workbook, Climbing the Harmony Pyramid, available digitally through my website, It will guide the reader, step-by-step up the Harmony Pyramid, one relationship at a time.

You talk a lot in the book about Leadership, and your interesting mentor on the subject. Tell us about her.

Yes, I was introduced to true leadership many years ago by “Bessy” -- one of my father’s cows on our farm. Over the past 50 years, I’ve studied the leadership dynamic in other animal groups, like dogs, horses, chickens -- and found that all lead animals exhibit the same basic characteristics and action style as Bessy. As human animals, we can model an effective leadership style after her Bessy-Boss Archetype as well:
  • Maintain a calm and reasoned demeanor (no emotional outbursts)
  • Remain focused on the matter at hand; not distracted by red herrings
  • Be unafraid to establish rules and expectations or to follow-through when expectations are not met (Courage)
  • Discipline with fairness but without anger or apology
  • Use a 3-step Follow-Through for discipline:
  • Give a casual warning
  • Formalize or make more clear the disapproval and set expectations for change
  • Take more serious action if expectations are not met
What’s curious is that these same characteristics are those of the greatest human leaders throughout history, as well. Apparently, all animals instinctively follow this type of strength!

If people want to read more about you, your philosophy and your Back-to-Nature advice on living our best life, where can they go?

Get a copy of “Cracking the Harmony Code: Nature’s Surprising Secrets for Getting Along While Getting Your Way” Available on Amazon. And visit my website at Many articles and blog posts there on achieving Harmony at home and at work, Nature’s way.

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