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Are you leading with your head?

In our chaotic and turbulent economy, many people are struggling with leadership challenges, family issues, choices, and decisions that affect their lives and the lives of others. Each person's difficulties are different in nature. We have noticed in watching people work with horses that these difficulties often have a common root cause. Most people do not use all the information available to them to make decisions.

In a recent leadership workshop we asked participants to slowly approach 4 different horses without talking, offer a greeting (the back of their hand) to each horse, and then move on to the next horse (no matter how the horses responded). The task sounds simple - unless you've never been in an arena with 4 horses that weigh 1000 pounds each and that appear to be fighting with one another. 

Five minutes into the activity it became apparent that we needed the participants to tell us what was happening for them during this activity. Many of them spoke of needing to just accomplish the goal, but had difficulty moving forward or knowing how to get the job done. We coached each person individually to put words to what was happening for them "in the moment". 

Participants realized a number of things in the process:

  • they didn't know what to do and felt inadequate as a leader just speaking those words;
  • they wanted to accomplish the goal but did not believe they could;
  • they were self-conscious because they felt everyone was watching them;
  • they pushed themselves into unsafe situations; and
  • they became aware of their guts tightening, fear surging through their veins, increased heart beat, rapid and shallow breathing, numbness in their body, and the inability to speak out loud.
    Many of the participants were doing what they were instructed to do without taking in all the data available to them to accomplish the goal.

    In coaching the participants it became clear they were not using their full potential to assess the situations, gather necessary data, develop an action plan, and use the resources available to them to accomplish their goal.  

    Mark Hyman, MD writes in his article Functional Wellness, “Your gut literally contains its own nervous system.  In fact, the "brain" in your gut contains more neurotransmitters than the brain in your head. The intestinal nervous system is wired back to your brain, and messages travel between the two." Dr. Hyman makes an excellent case for what we observe when working with people and horses:  you need to use your whole body and keep the two connected, and to remember that the soul is part of the whole package that makes us human. He also states, “When those messages are altered for any reason in any direction - from the brain to the gut or the gut to the brain - your health will suffer.”  

    Leading and making decisions with only your mind or only your emotions does not provide enough accurate information to accomplish your goals or to make sound decisions. We have so much more available to us if we just take the time to be "in the moment", listen, and notice what is going on inside of us and to discern the information before taking action.  Using your whole being is not something new, but is something we need to remember and practice in order to make it part of our normal decision making process.

    E. Stanley Jones wrote these insightful words back in 1922, "This age knows almost everything about life except how to live it."  We have dissected life and lost the beauty in the process.  "We have handed the body over to the doctor, the mind to the psychiatrist, and the soul to the minister, treating these three parts as separate entities. They are not separate. Life is a whole. You cannot affect one part without affecting all three." (Abundant Living)

    How much richer and more rewarding would life be if we lived as "whole" humans rather than separating and compartmentalizing each part of our body? What decisions would be different if you listened to your mind, body, and emotions and connected them as one?

  • October 2008

    "Choices" Youth Workshop
    Nov. 5th & 12th
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    Nov. 6 & 7th
    Introductroy offer $395
    Includes overnight stay in our Woodland Hide-a-Way
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    Unharness Your Leader-Self
    Nov. 20 & 21st.
    $200 off Regular Price
    Includes overnight stay in our Woodland Hide-a-Way
    Learn More

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