The magic of authenticity, revealed by a horse

horse-original-smallI’m a “head” person—I like to analyze things, I make rational decisions. I am more comfortable using my head than my heart. And in our culture, the head (rational, masculine, linear) leads. But I’ve been noticing that my intellectual decisions sometimes don’t get me where I want to go—even the phrase “get me where I want to go” betrays that linear, rational mindset. With that mentality so deeply ingrained, how could I learn to trust my heart?

A horse taught me. A horse and Alyssa Aubrey, owner of Medicine Horse Ranch.

I went to Medicine Horse Ranch to work on the issue of self-care. As we walked out to the field, Alyssa had her eye on the herd of horses nearby. While I talked she watched them, and one of them came forward. The rest sauntered off.

Alyssa showed me how to do a lunge exercise, but before I could even take the line, my interaction with the horse took on a new quality. There was what seemed like a magical connection, and I burst into tears. The horse wrapped her head around my body. She almost scooped me up. I was embraced within her warmth.

I felt like the horse was very connected to me, supporting me, pushing me a little bit. I felt like I could take further step than I would take on my own because I had this support.

We stood there entwined for a long time.

And then Alyssa started talking to me, and I responded from my head. The horse walked off. I felt really deserted. Alyssa said, “The horse doesn’t have any time for your bullshit.”

The process revealed to me of how we use our mind and our thoughts and our intellect to process and make decisions, when it’s really our emotions and our sensations and our connections that should be driving the boat, that motivate our authentic selves.

As leaders, which most of us are at some point, we have to move from our center—our feelings—not just from our head. So we have to learn to value and use our feelings in being an effective leader.

I was so inspired by the experience that I wanted to share it with my friends and the women I work with. Alyssa and I created a course to help other women experience the force of opening their hearts to their own leadership power. You can read more about it here.