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A 1-minute authentic leadership metaphor.

Paul is led through a 'breakthrough' session
by a horsejoy coach.

Paul enjoying a joyfully trusting relationship
with Boris.

Click here for 10-minute case-study

 

Wednesday
Apr042012

A Trouble Shared Is A Trouble Halved - Not Necessarily.

Sharing confusion brings forth clarity, sharing fear brings forth courage.

Our planet has more than enough energy, resources and money to end poverty, hunger, war and recession – now.  This seemingly endless recession is primarily the result of a critical mass of us buying in to the negative-focussing mass media predictions. Although we are the ultimate cause of our own demise, the mass media are the primary leaders/influencers in the vicious cycle of boom and bust. Rather than take personal responsibility for our opinions, we let the pundits dictate what we believe and lo and behold – shit happens.

To beat the recession we must create an authentic, positive-focusing force that’s strong enough to defy the tide of opinion that just wants to be right, sensationalise and sell stories at our expense.

How? How do we galvanise organisations to shift their focus?

We share authentically - one individual at a time.

Most of us in an organisational context are too scared to share our fears, doubts and confusions. Often rightfully so. We have, after all, a job to do, a responsibility to fulfil, people to lead - an image to protect. What might happen to my credibility if I’m perceived as weak or fluffy?

I’m not talking about self-deprecating jokes round the coffee machine.  I’m not talking about the ‘ain’t it awful?’ club. I’m talking about, yes, that syrupy American word ‘sharrrre’.

I learned, I mean really learned, the value of ‘sharing’ the other day. I ‘knew’ intellectually – after what seems like a lifetime of authentic sharing sessions -  the deeper value of it just the other day – apparently it’s never too late to teach an old dog an old trick.

My Insight was:  ‘sharing confusion brings forth clarity, sharing fear brings forth courage.’

I was participating in a monthly support group. It’s an international thing held on Skype for a group of us committed to personal growth and self-awareness. Because of the technology, when we share, all those listening mute their mikes. I don’t generally like this very much – there is no feedback from the group at all - it feels like no one’s there and no one cares. It feels like talking into a void – but at the same time you know there are people listening and who do care. A bit like talking to God in a way. Remember the old joke: When we talk to God it’s called - prayer. When he talks to us it’s called –schizophrenia.

What I noticed this time was that because there was no feedback, no laughter at my witticisms and pithy observations I was getting no payoff for being clever and maintaining my self image. The theme of the day was ‘living in the present’. I found myself rambling on about being ok about the present moment but being really worried about the future and complaining about how can being present take care of the future and all that in a very confused way. Eventually I ran out of steam and felt a bit of a chump – I’d been incoherent, not very funny. Had I let down my audience? Would they still love me?

The next day it hit me. I don’t know if I can express it adequately. It was something like if I spend time in the present complaining about my difficulties and focusing on negative things happening in the future, then – guess what – negative things start showing up round the corner. It’s the bleedin’ obvious really – but instead of feeling like a victim of ‘shit happening’ , because I could now see how I was promoting my own problems, I felt I now had the power to shift things.

In some unobvious way, I had obviously been sharing authentically. The risk I took paid off with big unexpected rewards. Paradoxically, had I been hoping for a reward and tried to manipulate the audience I would have had to settle for my meagre payoff.

Back to our lovely recession. If we want out, we’ll have to risk. In an organisation, the risk is creating a  culture where it’s safe to take these risks.

Corporate coaching, counselling, team building may or may not be enough. The facilitator must be skilled and self-aware enough to set up the conditions for authentic sharing to take place on a regular basis without being judged or taken advantage of. Some kind of oasis where people can get refreshed and renewed, even say every month or so. It’s simple, powerful and cost-effective. Increased productivity and profitability will be a given.

Sunday
Feb192012

Addiction Versus Authentic Leadership

An addiction is something we feel powerless to stop or change. This can be a physical behaviour, a mental belief system, an emotional pattern, an unconscious ritual - pretty much anything. A vast percentage of businesses, from one man bands to global corporations are predicated not on authentic leadership, but human addiction. It's no wonder the majority of these, at some point, crash and burn.

Probably the deepest, most unshakable addictions we humans experience (even more insidious than drugs or alcoohol) is what we say after the two innocuous little words 'I am...' We are deeply addicted to an expression, not of our true, authentic selves, but of our false selves. Our ego. Personality. Self concept. We define ourselves based not on who we really are, but on what we see, feel, do, believe, etc. 'I am a man. I am white. I am fat, ugly and useless. I am a Jew. I am an Arsenal supporter. I am a two-pints-a-day kinda guy. I am a Chief Executive. I am a father. I am...

All of these labels seem to be true. There is certainly evidence to support them. But do they really define us - authentically?

No. Not really. Who we really are is something far deeper than our physical body, race, colour, religion or sexual preference.

What's the harm in these behaviours, we may ask? No harm necessarily if we are self-aware and not seduced by our attachments. But if we are beguiled, it's important to realise this false self, this ego, is driven by fear - fantasy expectations appearing real. It fears being abandoned. It fears being out of control. It feels deeply insecure. Why? Because it does not and can not know and understand the true security inherrent in the authentic self. It therefore continually undermines us by driving us to seek symbols. Symbols of security, meaning, importance, and filfillment. A symbol is by definition not the authentic thing - it's a substitute, a stand in. A large sum of money, say, depending on your unfulfilled needs, could be a symbol of security, power, wealth, authority, freedom, etc. Only a symbol.

The false self creates desires for things that cannot give us security and fulfilment. It becomes attached to those desires and the fantasy outcomes they promise but never deliver. It has a false belief hard wired that says 'If I can control my life, everything will be OK'. But life cannot be controlled. People cannot be controlled. If we want control, the only thing we can possibly control is ourselves, our attitude. And, most of the time, we do a pretty shoddy job of controlling that.

This addictive process gets worse. Birds of a feather flock together. It's called businesses, organisations, governments, corporations. We people club together with like-minded others jointly to pursue the same false promises.

We repeatedly set goals that are symbols and therefore unattainable and usustainable. How do we know this? Look around. We are in another recession. We face a financial melt-down. Whole countries in our western so-called civilised world are going bankrupt.

Despite miracles in technology we as a human race are enduring poverty, suffering, starvation, ignorance and disease on an increasing scale.

The absolute solution to this is the true self. 'This above all, says Shakepeare, to thine ownself be true, and thou cans't then not be false to any man.'

Everyone is an authentic leader. Authentic leadership gives you another choice. Instead of the dilemma of an addiction, you now have a new reference point, a new possibility, a new freedom. Few seem able or willing to access this capability. Those that do are the few that lead lives in the upward, positive flow. They live in the present, unshackled by a dead past and a dying future. These are the ones who are creating their lives and their business results out of an authentic, unlimited sense of possibility - not the myopia of past performance and a safe, predictable future - that never turns out that way.

How do we connect with this source of authentic power and inspiration when we're not sure it's really available - or available to us?

Here at horsejoyNATURAL LEADERSHIP, we let our horses do the heavy lifting. Horses don't have an ego. Without an ego, leadership strategies that are ego-based are incomprehensible. Their very survival as a species depends entirely on following authentic leadership. If you try to lead our horses with the same ego strategy you lead a challenging boss, client or subordinate, you will be thwarted. If you use the frustration and emotion this causes to become self aware and to take a risk, you will break through to your authentic self.

This, the horse recognises. He immediately follows you. You get instantaneous, honest, pure innocent feedback telling you where to look and how to be in order to tap your authenticity.

We, as coaches and facilitators, are poised to notice these priceless moments and assist you to build a deep and lasting pipeline to this vast source of untapped potential.

If this sounds like a valuable notion. If you'd like to know more. If you'd like to discuss if and how this process could really benefit you and your organisation - then please get in touch.

Wednesday
Aug152012

Are you being the archetype or the stereotype you?

Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. - Harry S. Truman.

Imagine being able to increase your productivity ten-fold.

Not easy when being the 'stereotype you'. It's what's expected of you. It's how you live your life trying to please 'them'. It's when you wake up one morning and wonder 'what's it all about?', hit the snooze button, pull the duvet back over, go back to sleep, and go back to work.

Being the 'archetype you' is not such a safe option. This is the role you play in life when you are being authentic, being more true to yourself. It's not about waking up at all. It's about having been awakened. The awakened archetype stays moving forward by taking those risks every day that break through the comfort zones and culure zones that keep poverty, disease, abuse, pollution,... thriving at everyone's expense.

Right now you have the opportunity to change things in your life, in your family's life, in your colleagues' life for the better. You have the opportunity to gain a ten-fold return on your investment in yourself.

Our horses, our skills, our support will awaken the archetype you. That's our promise. What you do with it - that's your choice.

Come for a 'no-risk' discovery day. Call for a chat - 01608 663 916 or 07595 824 390.

Sunday
Jan082012

Are You Trying To Prove You're Not A Banana?

Are you a banana? Would you spend any time trying to prove you're not?

Of course not. Why try to disprove something that's self-evidently already untrue?

Yet most personal and corporate leadership strategies are, at a fundamentally disatrous level, trying to prove people are not 'unworthy' in some form. This is most certainly untrue - but not self-evidently so.

This pandemic 'leadership strategy', I assert, is the very key to why so many people and businesses experience failure.

Human beings cannot fail. We are hard-wired for success. So how come our businesses bomb? People are miserable? We go broke? We get sick?

One reason is, our false beleif systems drive us to set goals that have no intrinsic value. They may look and feel worthwhile, but they are based on a lie.

Example: here's the mission statement of the CEO of a global conglomerate we worked with. 

Our mission is to be recognised as the undisputed global food leader.

An inspiring thought, huh? The deeper motivation, however, is that the visionary CEO is driven by his need to be recognised. It's right there in the statement, 'Our mission is to be recognised...'

When his intention was challenged in a horse-assisted leadership session, he came to realise this need was in turn disguising his hidden fear that he was unworthy. The 'leadership strategy' the work exposed was driven by his (erroneous) belief that if he got recognition from others this would prove he was not unworthy and he would thus feel better about himself.

In other words, his mission in life, and thus the implied mission of his entire billion dollar, global operation was set up to prove that this guy was not a bad person.

The truth is - HE IS NOT A BAD PERSON. HE IS A VERY BRILLIANT AND CAPABLE PERSON. Putting his life's energy into proving that a false beleif is false is like trying to prove you're not a banana. You wouldn't do that, would you? Because you KNOW you're not a banana. But if your deepest fear is that you are somehow 'bad' and you believe this is true, then you are driven unconsciously to prove you are not.

This backfires in two ways. You waste your energy in a futile strategy. And this energy goes back in to feed the erroneous belief - which gets stronger and stronger at your expense. This is what so many organisations are doing on a global scale. Is it any wonder we keep cycling round and round in so-called financial and energy crises.

If you think this looks like convoluted thinking - it is. It is also the deep internal defence strategy that is driving probably 80% of businesses to the edge of the abyss.

When this kind of thinking is blended with high intelligence and creativity, it becomes a heady cocktail that intoxicates on a grand scale. Like all corporations driven by similar motivations, our CEO and and all who sail in him are heading drunkenly towards the edge of Niagara Falls. For a while they may feel swept along by the currents of great favour and fortune. But by the time they realise they're in a ship of fools, it's too late.

The good news is we have a place inside us where authentic leadership dwells. It may be sleeping beautifully, but it can easily be woken up. During our horse-assisted leadership sessions, we ask our clients seven, fundamental questions. Questions that can transform your life. Questions that raise your awareness of what does not work for you - and then refocuses you on your authentic self - so you have a new reference point for more effective choices.

  1. Who are you afraid you are?
  2. Who do you pretend to be?
  3. How do you seem to gain from this?
  4. What price do you pay for this?
  5. Who are you really?
  6. What do you really want?
  7. How can you be more true to yourself?

Because horses resist false leadership and instantly follow authenticity in leadership, you get pricelessly honest feedback that will guide you towards a more natural, authentic self-expression. Your vision will reach far beyond the limited horizon. You'll naturally begin setting goals that are expansive, worthwhile - and sustainable. Often, you'll reach far bolder goals than ever before - with a lot less stress and resistance.

Get in touch to discuss how you and your organisation can benefit from greater authenticity in leadership.

Monday
Feb132012

Authentic Leadership - To Be Or Not To Be?

Few leaders realise, how much, how little, will do. - Lao Tzu

If leadership is not authentic, then what is it? It may be called leadership, but it cannot be. It's a pretence, a shadow, an illusion, an ego expression... there are many words for it. Authenic leadership is our natural state. We are born with it. It is our birthright to enjoy. It's not something we need to learn. We don't need to rehearse to be ourselves. Inevitably, however, as we learn to cope with life's slings and arrows from childhood, we begin to falsely identify with the feelings in our false self, our ego. In order to experience the joy of authenticity in leadership and life, it behoves us to unlearn the false beliefs and habits that nest in our consciousness like a cuckoo. We do need to challenge the false self and transcend the limitations it imposes. We do need to reclaim the energy it drains off us in order to maintain its tyranny.

Shakespeare, one of the greatest leadership gurus of all time, said it thus "And this above all, to thine ownself be true, and thou cans't not then be false to any man."

Why should business leaders care whether they have an authentic culture? Would you care if you bought an expensive racehorse and it only perfomed like a tired old donkey? What if you were settling for a whole lot less than your greatest possibility in your people and your business performance? Why do you think that we humans repeatedly create cycles of crippling recession? Because at a deep fundamental level, we are not enjoying authentic leadership - in ourselves and from those in power.

You do have the power to change this right now. Of course you don't want to dig deep into your inner self and confront your worst fears. Of course you don't want to appear weak, foolish, vulnerable. Who does?

But as Franklin D Rooseveldt famously said, 'The only thing to fear is fear itself'. The only thing that distinguishes an authentic leader from his false counterpart is courage. The courage to risk facing the truth.

Ironically, when people spend a few hours in a horse-assisted coaching session, they inevitably discover that, when honestly challenged, their worst fears are lies and illusions that dissolve and dissipate like smoke. They also discover the truth about themselves - that they can influence people and bulid effective relationships at a whole new level of grace, ease and authority.

Executive coaching, training, equine facilitated learning, horse-assisted education, NLP, you name it... are all a total waste of time and money - unless they help you break through to your true self and enjoy the magic of authentic leadership.

Do get in touch to see how you and your people will benefit from greater authenticity in leadership.