“feel, timing and balance. I still can’t improve on those three words, but there is so much that goes on within that.” Tom Dorrance

“To sit still, we must develop near perfect body control, … developed only through a relaxed and supple mind… Be firm, still, and balanced in order to give consistent aids. Prepare yourself and be calm in mind and body.” Franz Mairinger

“Every day the rider must find the partnership again with his horse. We cannot take this trust and willingness for granted.” Walter Zettl

A Decade for Puzzles

puzzlepieces“Horses are only afraid of two things, things that move and things that don’t.” wisdom imparted by Tom Dorrance when asked why horses are afraid of everything. Good horsemen are great at simplifying ideas, a horse fears what he might see, hear or feel. Whether it moves or not, what a horse perceives as scary, is tangible.

Humans on the other hand can fear everything, we fear what we see, hear, feel, imagine and believe. When it comes to something scary if it isn’t there we are quite capable of creating it. If we aren’t the creator, then we certainly feed a fear with what we listen to, read and who we hang out with. Humans, are a pretty tough act to follow.

In his New Year essay, Michael Enright of the CBC Sunday Edition referred to the decade as one of “adding and subtracting, of lost purpose fogged by confusion”. Ten years that seemed to capture our worst fears beginning with worldwide chaos the result of computer failure to uncontrolled viral contagions. From Y2K to H1N1, it is a decade exhausted.

When we learn from the past, live in the moment and plan for the future we not only do well, we excel. 2010 holds promise for a decade of optimism, hope and opportunity. Let’s take advantage of our ability to reason when something is outside of our comfort zone and manage our emotion when we sense, feel, think, want or act fearful, then figure out what to do with the information.

AwarenessWheelsiteThe Awareness Wheel is a tool we use to help people through a perceived fear of horses, injury or failure1. The wheel provides a guide to question the source of the emotion we feel welling up, to take stock of the moment and determine whether our emotions are working for us… or against us.

The rock that doesn’t move or the plastic that blows in the wind may not be what scares us. But the what if’s, could be’s or might happen’s can paralyze us and the reasonable is quickly clouded by the irrational.

It is funny how we stumble upon what we have learned. I was busy matching the shapes, colours and textures, of a Christmas puzzle, when Mom remarked that I have always been so good with puzzles. The comment made me stop and think as I do enjoy puzzles, I guess that is why I stuck with Rhys. I have had a few people “suggest” I find another horse, but Rhys has been my puzzle. Even his name reflects the chocolate covered peanut candies that come many to a box and I have often described our progress as having discovered another piece.

I worried so much about the what might happens with Rhys, that I missed what was going on. When I let go of the what if’s my whole perspective on him changed. I can honestly say I lifted the fog of my own confusion so I could see the potential Rhys held for me.

2009 may have been a tough year – but don’t let that hold you back. Treat this next decade as a whole new puzzle, one with many pieces, new textures and a rainbow of opportunity. It is simply a case of fitting them together based on what shows up.

1 – adapted by Fred Jacques from the work of Miller, Wackman, Nunnally, and Saline.アコーデオンドア!トーソー アコーデオンドア クローザ エクセル TD-5040/TD-5041 レーベル
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Season’s Greetings

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Fear is a lazy bastard

rhys_fear“Fear is a lazy bastard. It comes from the most primitive part of the brain. It takes no work and no intelligence.” John Hope Bryant, Love Leadership

Fear is an emotion that can hold us, limit us or drive us. Fear is one of the six basic emotions we share with animals. When it comes to leading people fear may deliver short term results but it comes at great cost. In contrast the other five emotions sadness, anger, happiness, surprise and love utilize the part of the brain that thinks, finds meaning and remembers. Qualities found in passionate and caring leaders who truly want to connect with people and develop relationships in order to serve others. John Hope Bryant calls these individuals Love Leaders.

In my quest to grow The Natural Leader business I have had the great privilege of meeting a few of these Love Leaders. Each has touched my life in a different way each demonstrated a quality I needed to learn. Sometimes it was a learning realized simply through my own fear of failing.

Barbara Ross, sister, friend and avid supporter. Barb is devoted to so many others, she has volunteered as a board member, fund raiser and for the past three months as full time Executive Director of Inn from the Cold to bring them through a critical transition period.
Fred Jacques, my mentor and partner through the programs we have delivered together. His knowledge, experience and willingness to share is inspiring.
Barbara Thrasher, believed in what we had to offer from her first introduction to the programs. She has continued to promote, support and encourage me – reminding without words on the importance of patience.
Kathy Pinder, Director of the Famous 5 I had the honour to work with Kathy on the 80th Anniversary of the ‘Persons Case’, her energy, enthusiasm and commitment is unwaivering.
Francis Wright, founder of the Famous 5 lives the importance of the role of women in developing a world worth living in.
Barbara Dodd-Jones for her participation and her willing endorsement in support of Equine instinct to better human Emotional Intelligence.
Suzanne Fitzhenry, Suzanne has been incredible in her ability to promote the University of
Calgary programs continually creating wait lists.
Donna Kennedy-Glans, has inspired me. Leadership in one of Canada’s largest oil companies taught her about the importance of self, family and belief. She continues to unveil opportunities for others through CanadaBridges.com
Jan Hornford, an aspiring equestrian with a positive energy and caring grace. Jan has a passion for people, her encouragement was the source of doing things differently this past year.
Christopher Byron, my husband, partner and best friend he both encourages and challenges me.

Each of these individuals helped me see that in failure lies great opportunity. It is simply about the choices we make. “Never say can’t and never say impossible. The difficult you do immediately, the impossible takes a little longer.”1 Love leadership is about caring more about what others think, need and want than you think about yourself.

I always connect my leadership learnings to what my horses have taught me – this topic is no different. Animals are great teachers of unconditional love they accept us for who were are based on how we treat them. Horses can be absolute grace under pressure – so willing to forgive.

Rhys and I have had our journey this past year. It was only when I was ready to commit and banish my fear of failure Rhys was there waiting to follow my lead. It is a path I am willing to take in my business and my life. Failure like falling is something you do but you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and carry on. Loving what you are doing makes it that much easier.

Thanks to all of you I haven’t mentioned those who encouraged, participated and provided critical feedback and continue to influence my life. A great 2010 to all.

1- I am honoured to give credit where it is due – John Hope Byrant is the author of Love LeadershipFanatics Authentic Joe Namath Alabama Crimson Tide Autographed 16 x 20 Crimson Uniform with Ball Pho
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It’s Your Behaviour

“Titles are granted, but it’s your behaviour that wins you respect.” Opening words to the first practice of The Leadership Challenge.

Model the Way; Inspire a Shared Vision; Challenge the Process; Enable Others to Act and Encourage the Heart are the Five Practices of The Leadership Challenge and have proven to be a great reference for The Natural Leader programs. This past weekend in High River Alberta, Buck Brannaman capably demonstrated that the five practices of leadership apply equally well to to the pursuit of horsemanship.

“to gain commitment you must be a model of the behaviour you expect of others.” Model the Way is about demonstrating behaviour, it is about being clear on what is important to you and prepared to set the example. Clear on his commitment Brannaman’s presence demonstrates he is prepared to help others in their horsemanship journey.

The words and topics he uses are not often heard in the boardroom, but the concepts couldn’t be closer. Brannaman talks about having a picture in your minds eye of what you want to do before you start. “Do less than what you think it’s going to take and then do what it takes to get the job done.” Through stories of his own struggles, his admiration for his mentor Ray Hunt and humorous interpretations of his teachings Brannaman created and Inspired a Shared Vision.

His word’s don’t simply inspire, but they Challenge the Process engaging people into action. By sharing and demonstrating activities where a person learns from their failure, or as Brannaman puts it “an opportunity to get better” he sets it up for the horse human relationship to improve. The goal of attending the clinic was to improve to horsemanship skills, but as his website claims “horses and life it’s all the same to me.” Brannaman creates possibility, he Enables Others to Act limited only by the level of commitment each is prepared to make. The art of horsemanship is to make the horse look better.

Through his skill Brannaman is able to foster collaboration and build trust, so others believe they too can achieve something they previously thought unattainable, he Encourages the Heart.

Working through the challenge of making my horses look better has taught me, horsemanship and leadership ….. it is all about my behaviour.

The image at the start of the article is a Garcia Spade Bit, an example of the finest in silver, copper and steel craftmanship. While bits always raise controversy in the horse world, it is rarely the bit and always how humans use them. To Brannaman the spade represents the ultimate in trust and communication based on respectful relationship. As his mentor Ray Hunt said “Anyone can ride a horse bridle-less but only those with the highest level of commitment can ride a horse with a spade bit.”

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