S2E10: Jude Jennison reads ‘Leading Through Uncertainty’; Connection and Support
Chapter 10 of my book Leading Through Uncertainty is called Connection and Support and is another skill that is desperately needed in uncertainty and yet we often disconnect when it gets uncomfortable.
The chapter begins with a story of how the horses engage with clients at the beginning of the day and show how connected they are. The horses connect in a desire to create their safety. Ironically, human beings often do the opposite. Although connection requires a vulnerability to be seen, heard and understood, there is greater safety in staying connected with others when we trust ourselves and each other in the process.
Here is an extract:
“The group and I stood at the gate to the field, and I introduced the horses who were grazing. I turned to Kalle, and she lifted her head and looked at us. I moved on to talk about Tiffin, and Kalle went back to her grazing. As I mentioned Tiffin’s name, he also lifted his head and took a step forward towards us. I turned to look at Gio and before I even mentioned his name, he walked over to the gate to meet everyone. On this particular day, Mr Blue was in a stable waiting for the vet to come and perform minor surgery on his foot. I explained that he would not be part of the day but that he might at some point pop his head out of the stable to say hello. At that moment, as if by magic, his face appeared over the stable door. Meanwhile, Opus, my 29-year-old retired horse, was 50 metres away in a small paddock standing behind a 5 ft bale of hay, eating. You could just about see him. The gate to the paddock was open as Opus has the full run of the yard when I am onsite – it’s his privilege as the old man of the herd. As I started to explain about Opus being retired, he looked up and stepped to one side of the hay bale so we could see him. One of the clients gasped, “Does he really know you are talking about him? Have you trained them to do this?” Yes, they know when we are talking about them, and no, I have not trained them. In fact, it’s the opposite. All of my horses are encouraged to be themselves, to be as close to a natural horse as is possible in a domesticated environment, to have an opinion and to assert their right to make it clear. It sounds incredible but this is a pattern that plays out repeatedly when introducing clients to the horses. We continued our conversation, and I explained that Opus had free run of the yard and would probably want to come and meet them at some point throughout the day. At that moment, Opus walked out of the field and up the yard towards us. He stopped halfway and stood sentinel outside the gate to the arena. We were heading there next, and he knew it. We walked down the yard to enter the arena, and Opus blocked our path. He stood quietly, commanding respect and attention. As each client walked past him, they said hello to him. Some of them stroked his neck, others let him sniff their hand. They were completely in awe of what had just happened. Once each person had said hello to Opus, he relaxed further and let them pass. When one person tried to pass him without greeting, he stretched out his neck and blocked their way until they said hello. There was no doubt who was in charge in this moment, and the connection was felt deeply by everyone.”
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