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A 1-minute authentic leadership metaphor.

Paul is led through a 'breakthrough' session
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Do You Have True Confidence – Or Are You Just Pretending?

“The insight I gained in just one day with Paul and his horses was truly amazing and very powerful.” - Jo Kelly, Head of Partner Development, Waitrose.

When a critical mass of false confidence escapes into the culture it causes many symptoms – frustration, depression, anger, pain, disease, decay, recession, war, poverty, addiction, crime...

True confidence is probably the most valuable, highly sought-after human quality. Valuable because it’s so powerful. Sought after because it’s notoriously hard to find. Those in possession of true confidence are not only successful in the material sense, but also inside where it really matters. Sadly, many of the legions of gurus, coaches and psychologists now jostling for attention on Google are unwitting purveyors of fools’ gold. Few truly understand the dynamics of authenticity.

So why talk to a guru? When you can whisper to a horse.

horsejoy AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP (Horse-assisted authentic leadership development) is predicated on it.

We’re taught from an early age how to pretend we’re confident – when we’re not. But, like fool’s gold, when tested, false confidence fails. This typically leads, rather than to a deeper search for our authenticity, to developing even greater skill at pretending. The inner logic is irrefutable: ‘I am afraid I am (stupid, incapable, bad, worthless, etc). Evidence from my past proves this. I must either develop a strategy to prove this is not true or accept my fate that it is.’ As we strengthen our intention to prove we’re ok – we also strengthen the false belief that we’re not. It’s a tragic vicious spiral.

The bitter irony is, of course, that it is not true. We are ok. Period. Trying to prove we are not ‘not ok’ is like trying to prove you’re not a banana.

True confidence is the original, pure, natural state we are born with. It is who and how we really are. It doesn’t go anywhere - it just gets covered up by our so-called education. It is only found in the warm living room of the spiritual heart. It cannot survive in the cold dark pantry of the rational mind.

Because, true confidence began with our authentic state of being, reclaiming it begins with the risk of being authentic once again – we have to risk being vulnerable.

Risk? Yes, part of the strategy of the false self (ego) is to undermine our attempts to become authentic – to the ego, vulnerable equates with weakness. This is a fallacy. Vulnerability is the kissing cousin of confidence. It goes hand-in-hand . It is one of the keys to our greatest strength and greatest source of respect and influence. Look at the people you respect, admire, want to follow – most likely, they are confident enough in their authenticity to be vulnerable. They can repel the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with impunity.

Our greatest fear is that the lies we have come to believe about ourselves are true. As Shakespeare once said:

‘Conscience doth make cowards of us all, and the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and enterprises of great pitch and moment, with this regard their currents turn awry, and lose the name of action.’

Avoiding the real leadership challenge costs you – everything you most want in your life!

Recently, the Head of Partner Development for one of the UK’s favourite retailers came to us for a discovery day. She was very clear that ‘authentic leadership’ was the way to go for the 21st century. Not so clear was the ‘how?’.

Now she is:

‘The personal insight I achieved with Paul and the horses was truly amazing, extremely powerful and, equally important - lots of fun. In one day, they enabled me to understand more about my leadership than I could have imagined possible. I attempted to lead Serendipity (the horse) the same way I lead my team - and got some pretty direct feedback! '

Jo had the courage to take that risk and she reaped the rewards.

Why is this so powerful and so immediate? Horses do not have an ego, therefore they cannot pretend nor can they be fooled by us when we do. Their very survival instincts means they resist all but authentic, honest leadership.

The coaching we do here first of all allows clients to uncover the true false beliefs (if you see what I mean) that are hiding their authenticity. Then we work with the horse’s feedback to redirect them back into their authentic self. As they touch into this, the horse immediately switches his response from resistance to cooperation. The client then enters a new spiral of increasing authenticity and, of course, true confidence. Through this confidence, they experience a totally new reference point of authentic leadership and genuine influence. Because this is not so much ‘learning’ as rediscovering, it effortlessly transfers back to the workplace and home life.

If our families, businesses and our countries are to ride out this recession, we have no other choice but to return to our authentic selves and the power of that innate confidence.

Working like this with horses is not the only way to rediscover your authenticity  - but it is probably the most immediate and cost-effective.

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Reader Comments (1)

I am trying to understand why my well mannered little mare, Hope, played up when my very gentle but inexperienced partner tried to catch her and lead her in. He resorted to using his strength to tug on her rope and she responded by taking flight. Interesting.

October 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGina Porter

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