S2E5: Jude Jennison reads ‘Leading Through Uncertainty’ Fear and Polarisation
Chapter 5 of my book Leading Through Uncertainty starts with a story of a client who didn’t want to work with my horses. He dismissed it as stupid but his resistance was a desire to stay in his comfort zone and in control. The chapter explains how resistance is a desire for our needs to be met and and to feel safe and secure. Resistance is a by-product of fear and causes polarisation.
It starts with the client story:
“I don’t see the point of this, and I don’t want to be here,” Simon said as he walked through the gate and brushed past me in the office doorway. He was the last person to arrive. Everyone looked a little uncomfortable and shifted in their seats.
“That’s OK,” I replied without judgement and pointed him in the direction of the tea and coffee. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as I let the moment pass. We could not have been further apart in our views of working with horses. I have watched clients work with horses and gain major ‘aha’ moments that transform everything in their life and work. I’ve seen how the horses help clients turn a loss-making business into a profit. Simon had not. He had no reference point. He was out of his comfort zone, on the verge of overwhelm. The truth is, he was scared, and his overconfident resistance was his way of staying safe. It was pointless trying to persuade him with words. Anything I said in that moment to try to convince him of the value of working with the horses would only increase the divide.
The horses win people round quickly, so I held Simon gently in his resistance, accepting that his perspective was true for him in that moment. When his time came to work with the horses, he opted to work with Kalle as people who are terrified often do. While many are intimidated by her self-assuredness and self-confidence, the ones who are overwhelmed often choose to work with her, as if they sense that she also has the capacity to be extremely gentle with anyone who is scared.
Simon took the lead rope from me and stroked Kalle on the neck. He took one step forward, invited her to walk with him, and off they went together. Kalle didn’t challenge him any more than I had. She recognised that he needed to be put at ease, to be supported out of his comfort zone and held gently. He came back with a big smile on his face. Simon was achieving success as he perceived it by getting the horse to go with him. He was starting to move from his original position of fear and polarisation to meeting me and the horses in a place of curiosity and quiet, confident leadership.
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