Saturday, 27 September 2014

Leading with impact - a grounding experience!

This month I was privileged to attend the Leading with Impact course run by Dawn Bentley and Lisa Brice. On this course, unlike any other leadership training I've been on before, horses were our co-trainers [photos courtesy of Dawn Bentley].

Leading with a rope while learning the centering technique
Horses are highly attuned to emotions; they communicate, principally, via body language. We, on the other hand, can communicate verbally and non verbally. But, it is primarily our non-verbal communication, shown through our body language, that is picked up by other people (or our animals). Congruency between our body language and how we speak is key to clear communication and, therefore, good leadership. On this one-day course we learned how to centre (or ground) ourselves to help us become more aware of our bodies and the tensions we hold within. How often, when stressed, do we hold our breath or breathe more shallowly? By grounding ourselves we become more relaxed and more spatially aware (through 'soft eyes'). We breathe deeper and with our solar plexus (abdomen) rather than higher up in our chest, which results in a calm persona.   The highlight of the day for me was leading a horse around the enclosure, with nothing but my body language and intention. Despite handling horses every day, it sparked an emotion deep inside me - a feeling of empowerment and partnership.
Look no lead rope!

So, can you apply this to your every day life? Yes, of course! Here are a few scenarios in which I've applied what I learned:

1. New neighbours are moving in nextdoor - their builders arrive 2 days after the training course. My instant reaction is for my hackles to rise and for me to be defensive. This tension is based on past experiences - that they are going to be as noisy and inconsiderate as the last family. When Tom and his builder come round to introduce themselves, I'm ready - grounded and calm with the intention to be a friendly, helpful neighbour. It works - both are acutely aware of the potential disruption of the building work and so far have been as considerate as they can be under the circumstances. Furthermore, I was able to calmly explain that the dividing walls between our houses were thin and that sound proofing may be something they could consider - job done!
2. I've applied the grounding technique when handling and riding Wilbur. It helps me to be a lot calmer and more stable in the saddle. Wilbur is normally quite ticklish when he's being groomed, and shows his displeasure by swishing his tail or biting the stable door. However, if I'm grounded when I groom him, he seems less reactive. Perhaps my body language was causing him to tense up so his skin became more sensitive to touch? What I love most is that this technique is totally congruent with the TTouch and TTeam work I love.
3. I've even noticed a difference in my driving! When centred, I engage my core muscles, so I become less reliant on the steering wheel for balance (next time you're in the car ask yourself if you're gripping the steering wheel more tightly than you need to - then breathe, engage your core and experience the difference!). I feel I can use my arms and legs more easily to change gear and use the pedals. I also feel calmer which means I'm less likely to explode in road rage and more aware of what is around me - soft eyes improve your peripheral vision. Yes, although I'm more relaxed, I feel more alert and able to react quicker to changing situations on the road around me.

What I learned in a day has already had such a profound effect on my life and was truly enlightening. It really is a worthwhile experience, and one I would highly recommend - and no prior knowledge of handling horses is required.

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