Something a little different

As most of you know, I’ve been coaching leaders and consulting with teams for well over a decade. Every couple of years, almost like clockwork, something shows up to energize me and takes what I offer to the next level.

Whether it’s been a new training program, a new assessment tool, or reengaging with a passion for something like getting out on my bike, just when I need a boost, something happens.

2020 being what it is, I wasn’t sure what was coming next but something told me to stay open and be curious.

Some lessons come from left field, and some come from an actual honest-to-goodness field.

Have you heard about equine therapy or horse medicine? I hadn’t until I started doing some work with Hillary Schneider who runs a horse sanctuary and retreat centre.

Now, I’m not a horse guy. In fact, I was scared to death of them.

But being out on Hillary’s acreage has given me an entirely new, unexpected clarity and a sense of playfulness that I have to say I wasn’t expecting to feel this year.

There’s a remarkable synergy between what I do with leaders and teams, and what Hillary calls “the power of the herd”.

So much so, that we’re working out a collaboration. By the time we’re all traveling again, I’ll be offering retreats.

Pack your jeans, and come experience first hand what these incredible animals can teach us about communication, trust, boundaries, rest and recovery.

Lesson 1: Entering the herd

From 100 yards away, the herd can sense your approach. Their ears perk and they’re instantly ready to react to whatever you do.

If you want to enter the herd, you need to be conscious of what you’re bringing with you or they will bolt.

If you’re frustrated or scared they know it, and they go into high alert. You aren’t going to get anywhere with them.

But if you take a minute to ground yourself, and approach with genuine openness, they relax, make space and some might even approach you to make a connection.

Entering the herd is like entering a meeting.

Not everyone in a meeting is in the same state. Some are ready, some are relaxed and some might be verging on fight, flight or freeze.

If you try to bulldoze past someone who’s feeling low, or you go in all riled up yourself, that energy infects the room. But if you take that extra minute to read the room, ground yourself and let everyone relax, that’s when you make the connections you need to move everyone forward together.

Now, I can write that and you can read it and sort of get what I mean. But these are just words.

Until I actually tried to approach a herd, in what is essentially the wilderness of British Columbia, I had no idea what grounding, opening up and connecting could really feel like or what I could make happen.

With this new, embodied understanding, I’m stoked to draw wisdom from the herd to build on the training, facilitation and coaching I offer.

Make the decision to learn. The energy will come.

If you’re waiting for things to let up before you try something new, it’s going to be awhile. But if you believe that you can grow and learn — even in the midst of chaos — opportunities and energy show up.

I’ll talk more about the benefits of having a growth mindset in a follow-up newsletter. And I’ll share more wisdom from the herd too.

Remember: People who are open to learning find opportunities, build on them and get energized by them. You can too.

This article was originally published in Chris Obst’s monthly e-newsletter. Sign up now .

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