Tag Archives: horses

Chapter 2 Brendon

Brendon

He woke up quickly as always, out of bed and half-dressed before his eyes were even fully opened. His mind playing catch-up with his body he started to think about the day he had planned with Andrew, his executive coach and leader of the Leadership development program Brendon and instigated. They worked well together. Andrew understood Brendon’s leadership philosophy. In fact back in school days they had played in the same football team though Andrew had long since given up football whilst Brendon still needed that hard physical outlet to clear his head and prove to himself he was still alive. Nothing like being ground into the dirt to make you realise you were a living breathing red blooded male! Brendon is a big believer in the benefit of team work, strong leadership, encouragement and engagement. His approach seemed to work well with most of his male managers, though not all, but he was perplexed at why the same approach was not working with his extremely capable female managers. He was particularly concerned about Gemma. She had come into his section as a future star. Bright and capable she had an excellent record and fast promotion but she seemed to be floundering. Brendon frequently threw her opportunities in meetings to show what she knew, what she could do, but she always backed away from the openings he gave her. The more he encouraged her the worse it got. She had also started to get some adverse ratings from her direct reports. It wasn’t that she was unhelpful or rode them too hard, it was that she could be moody and unpredictable, suddenly coming down hard on someone for some minor thing.

When Andrew had first suggested Anna and Lex and their Equine Leadership Workshops he had thought it sounded like a good day out for a bit of team building but Andrew convinced him there was more to it than that. That in fact working with the horses had been deeply transformational for Andrew himself and he knew the power of it. Brendon just hoped no-one got kicked, bitten or trampled on in the course of the day.

Cloud hung back at the edge of the herd as the morning feeds were dispensed. She let them jostle and push before she moved up to the last remaining bowl Unfortunately it was uncomfortably close to Ostara as none of the other horses wanted to be in striking distance, but Anna had made sure there was plenty of room between bowls so whilst she could never relax, her concentration always on the chestnut mare, Cloud was able to eat most of her feed before Ostara, having finished her own, chased her away from it.

As they had got nearer to the farm, Brendon’s excitement and worry and increased equally. He really relished the idea of being outside instead of stuck in a huge air-conditioned building like a million others but for slight difference in décor and design and doing something new was always interesting. On the other hand he needed to get to the heart of the problem with Gemma. He had been told if her ratings didn’t improve quickly she would be moved out of his department and he knew he needed her expertise. If only he could “fix” what was wrong with her. He knew she was dedicated and put in long hours, but her team were losing faith in her and the whole sections engagement scores were suffering. He looked across at her and saw her gaze out the window and a small frown came to his face. She glanced his way, seeming to feel his look so he turned way quickly to look out his own window.

It was good to see Anna and Lex again. He had met them briefly in the city when they had scoped out the day but this was the first time he had seen them on the farm. How capable they both looked. It gave him a lot of confidence.

The horse milled around in the arena for a while, they hadn’t been in there for a while so first they needed to check it out. Cloud was interested in the group of people under the awning, she knew Anna was there and she could smell the slight hint of liquorice coming from Anna’s direction. Lost in a licorice dream she failed to notice Ostara until she saw the teeth coming at her, then the wheel and kick. One hoof caught her squarely in the chest before she was able to get out the way. The two young geldings, excited by the circumstances started a mock battle, running and rearing and generally taking up space so Cloud moved away to the edge till things had settled down and she could slowly re-join the herd.

Chapter Three Anna

Anna

“I had a dream”. Anna wonders how many times Martin Luther King has been misquoted. I had a dream suggests something finished. Either the dream has been realised or not, but the dream itself is past tense. “I have a dream” is so much more powerful. Something is being created in the now. When Anna was a young girl, she had a dream. There were variations that ranged from Olympic Glory to living on the vast plains of some unnamed country sat bared legged, almost centaur like, on a wiry little pony. No matter the setting the heart of the dream was always anchored in the connection between her and her horse. The link that bound them together and surmounted difficulties like language and species.

Of course that was a little girls dream.

Boarding school, University, marriage, a corporate career, all the usual mundane tasks filled Anna’s days for years. Horses were always a part of it, sometimes fleetingly, a stolen glance when driving past a paddock full, sitting glued to the TV in the early hours of the morning watching others sail over fences or dance around the arena in Top hat and Tails. Then more permanently culminating in the founding of her own small horse stud.

But there was something missing.

During her career seemingly chained to her desk, Anna’s horses were her solace. Whilst she was careful not to go straight from a particularly frustrating day, the sort that left her angry and brittle, to the horses, she found that once she had taken the edge off herself with something physical, just by spending time with them it calmed her and enabled her to think more clearly. The refrain from “Drift Away” played in her head but  it wasn’t just the beat of a rock and roll tune that could carry her away it was also the beat of galloping hooves and the strong hearts of her horses.

Day after day I’m more confused;
I look for the light in the pouring rain.
You know that’s a game that I hate to lose.
I’m feelin’ the strain; ain’t it a shame?

Oh, give me the beat, boys, and free my soul;
I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away.
Give me the beat, boys, to soothe my soul;
I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away.

“Drift Away” by Mentor Williams, 1970


I need something different she had thought, something more. Something where I can really make a difference not this endless round of petty politics, pressure to produce without the proper resources or structure to support us. I feel trapped in a box I can’t break out of and its walls are getting closer and closer, squeezing me. What a relief it was then when Anna’s company launched into a coaching and development process. Anna’s mind latched on to this, for her, new field like a magnet, irresistibly drawn. Ever the researcher, the seeker she decided to take the jump out of her well-worn groove and take up a new career.

But still there was something missing.

A chance meeting with Lex changed all that. They met because of a horse Anna had for sale and as she was checking Lex out to see if she was a suitable candidate to take on a young horse, Anna discovered Lex was a gifted development coach of many years’ experience and part of her motivation in bringing horses back into her own life was her interest in the developing field of Horse Assisted Education and Leadership Development. It was one of those moments where you feel a jolt. This is “it”.  It wasn’t the first time Anna had come across the field, but she wasn’t ready for it at that time. She was only newly out of her old career and feeling vulnerable, not ready to take her relationship with her horses out of the private realm and turn it into to something shared. Sure she bred and sold horses but that was a completely different dynamic.

Hunter wickers softly, waiting for the answering calls. The sun is starting to creep above the horizon and the small herd is restless, waiting for a sign the humans are one the move and soon to deliver the morning feeds. One of the youngsters, impatient, starts to bang a stable door with a hoof, while the broodmares jiggle the gate of their paddock. Foals, oblivious to the timing of delivered feed, are content to butt their dams in the flank to get the milk flowing more freely.

Anna works her way efficiently through the morning routine. Everyone standing on 4 legs? Check. Pump not running constantly. Check. Everyone fed. Check.

The mixed herd to be used for the days’ workshop are given a quick brush and then let back out in to the holding paddock. They bicker a little amongst themselves. Ostara, always the bully makes her presence felt, but knows better than to take on the patriarch, Hunter. He may not throw his weight around the way she does, but she won’t mess with him. Funny how despite his higher position in the herd pecking order than her own, the young ones are content to hang around with him but give her a wide berth.

Most of Anna’s clients are not horse people and Ostara is only used in the initial observation exercise, but occasionally there is someone who has a lot of expertise with horses and runs through the basic exercises with ease so Ostara is a useful to offer them a bit of a challenge and get them out of the “horse person” space.

Anna turns her mind to the day’s workshop. She met with Lex, Andrew and Brendon a month ago to work out the general plan for the day.  She has been working with Andrew for a while and knows he is well versed as to when a client is ready for this type of work. There needs to be an openness and awareness though there is nothing wrong with a bit of skepticism. Until people have actually worked with the horses it is difficult to conceive how the process works. Brendon came across as a force of nature. Elemental even within his sombre business suit. He was enthusiastic about the work he and his team have been doing with Andrew but Anna could feel his energy beating at her in waves, much like a young colt bouncing around on the end of a rope. As Andrew was describing some of the issues in his team Anna could already see how that intenseness could be felt as intimidating by some, despite its positive intent.

She gives Jelani and Khan a quick stroke as she passes them and holds her hand out to Hunter, who drops his heads and rests it against her chest and she tips her head so they are forehead to forehead.  Drawing on the peace of that moments she centers herself, ready for the day ahead.


Keeping sane in an insane world

Pause

Fifteen days since my last post and it feels like a lifetime.

Sitting here on our great big Island we were still feeling a little divorced from the crisis unfolding in the world around us. That big ocean that has kept us safe from “war and pestilence” was going to let us dodge the worst of the bullets again. It was not to be of course. Perhaps if we had sealed our borders, not let our own citizens and residents return, turned back all tourist no matter where they were from, shut down all commerce, we may have not just flattened the curve but got ahead of it. But at what cost? It is hard enough knowing there are still people stuck out there that cannot get home, through no fault of their own; could we have callously left thousands more rely on the “kindness of strangers” to keep them safe. Of course not. Like everyone else, all we can do is try to flatten that dam curve.

So this is our new normal. Markets crashing, millions out of work, our normal modes of social interaction all but shut down, businesses that may never recover. And no end in sight – a proverbial piece of string.

So much that we cannot control, that we have to let go of else it will drive us insane with anxiety. Now is the time to look at what we can control and use that to help us through these insane times.

There are lots of practical things, of which there is a wealth of information out there, but in order to be able to do them, we have to attend to our inner selves. To not “losing our sh*t”,

One of the ways we cope is to just spend time with our horses, but not everyone can do that, but you can learn from their innate animal wisdom, that speaks to our own . The five lessons we can attend to at this time are:

Breath – firstly remembering to do so! Then paying attention to how we are breathing. using the slowing of our breath to calm our bodies and our minds down.

Observe – slow down, use your senses. Give your self time to understand what you are seeing.

Act – when you have clarity from your observation of what action needs to take place, do not get caught up in the stories you tell yourself.

Relax – Allow the pause after action, do not rush on to the next thing without allowing yourself to feel your action is complete.

Back to grazing – this is the fallow period that allows your creativity blossom. Where you are not in an unending stimulus response cycle. This is the going slowly, to go fast. It is where you start the cycle of Breath, Observation, Action, Relaxation again.

Above all we must listen to our bodies, not allow ourselves to be captured by our spinning minds.

Lynn

PS If your want to know more about the Five lessons from the Wisdom of Horses contact us to receive or free document “Getting Unstuck – 5 lessons from the wisdom of horses”. Contact us

Building resilience – March 2017 Newsletter

sun moments 20161125-06-36-57-Fiilies back paddock-IMG_4176 It’s not what life throws at you but how you respond – how many memes are there floating around based on that sentiment? What does it really mean though? To me, it’s about resilience.

If you look up the definition of resilience what pops up first is:

  • the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
  • the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

I wasn’t sure at first about the word toughness as it conjured a more unyielding response, but with reflection about the sort of toughness that is still elastic, my opinion changed. You can for instance look at the difference between one of those big fit balls and a party balloon. Both can move and flex to pressure but one you can sit on the other you cannot. One is tough, the other is not.

Another example that the weather over the last couple of months has brought to mind is the toughness and resilience of grass. Just the normal soft grass that grows in my paddock. Its toughness is not because of its thick skin but its deep roots and its ability to go from dormant to full life in a very short period of time. In February my paddocks were dry and cracked and the grass looked dead. By the middle of march those same paddocks were knee deep in vividly green grass.

So how do we cultivate resilience? One of the ways is mindfulness. When we operate from a mindful perspective, we are fully present; and when we are fully present we don’t become mired in the past or lost in the future.  We are able to respond, not react.

Books we love

The books that support our work in Horsanity, where we gain inspiration and learning and which we think you would find valuable.

Mindfulness is a topic that has been around for quite a while now and there are lots of schools of thought about how it should be approached. Should you immerse yourself in a spiritual practice such as Buddhism, or at least take your instruction from that tradition? Should you enroll in a more secular course and be guided through an intensive course in a group environment? There are plenty on offer to choose from. Should you take the time to immerse yourself in the now with another sentient (horse) being skilled at being present (yes!)?

My personal belief is that if it works for you to achieve what you want to achieve then there are no wrong answers to how you go about finding your way to deeper practice. The problem is that often the barrier to taking such an approach is our over busy minds and lives that convince us we have no time to commit. And that is where books like the following two come in. They guide us through short practices of habit and get us started.

Before we launch into the books though, what do I mean by mindfulness? My thoughts are pretty main stream so this explanation from the University of California works for me.

“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.

Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.”

littel book of mindfulness

The first book is “The Little Book of Mindfulness, Dr Patrizia Collard, 2014”. For a start it is pocket sized. If you want to carry it around with you it slips easily into your bag or pocket and you can take it out if you need a bit of inspiration. After a brief introduction about the history of secular mindfulness practice and what the aims of it are, the books outlines a number of 5 and 10 minute practices for the everyday. The book is also beautifully illustrated, which always helps.

In the section on mindful eating: Food should be savoured for the mind as well as the body.

From the writer Peter Altenberg on a tea ritual: Drinking my tea at 6pm never seems to lose its power over me. Everyday I long for it as intensely as the day before, and when I drink it I lovingly embrace it into my being”

Midfulness practical guide

The second book is “Mindfulness, a Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World, Mark Williams and Danny Penman, 2011”. The authors come from the same school of thought as Dr Collard, based on the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn so much of the ground covered is the same as in the smaller book but in much more detail. It offers both practice and theory and the copy I have came with a CD of guided meditations which is a real bonus!

From the foreword by Jon Kaat-Zinn: While you are putting yourself into the authors’ hands for guidance, you are also, most importantly, putting yourself very much into your own hands by making the commitment to yourself to actually follow their suggestions, to engage in the various formal and informal practices and habit releasers, and put them to the test by seeing what happens when you begin to pat attention and act with kindness and compassion towards yourself and others, even if it feels a bit artificial at first.

In other words, remember, Mindfulness is a practice and our skill, and thus the benefit, develops as we persevere with that practice. These two books are a great resource in that practice.

Back in the saddle

February  was a month to remember both for the searing temperatures and St Ivans and Carwoola fires that affected many people we know, but also for me a trip in rural India where I discovered the delights of the Indian National Park system, which is quite extensive. Hence no February Newsletter.

March too seems to have just flown by but this time at least we have been engaged in honest labor. With both Public  and Organisational workshops it was a nice blend of emphasis. Of particular pleasure was to run the fifth “ignite Pharmacy Leadership” workshop in Canberra with our friends at Peakgrove. So far we have conducted the workshop three times outside Melbourne, once outside Newcastle and now outside Canberra. Participants fly in from all round Australia and are always highly engaged. If they arrive slightly skeptical, the skepticism soon vanishes as they work with the horses.

Meet the Herd

We have been looking at the new editions at Tashkent but time for a change of pace and a look at one of the more venerable members of the Yaroonga herd.

The big majestic grey mare Ladybird has been instrumental in much deep learning by participants at Yaroonga workshops. As Pam’s first born she holds not just a special place in Pam’s heart, but also in the dynamics of the herd. Very much the matriarch, she has her avid followers and communicates in no uncertain terms. Born during the EI crisis of 2007 (this was a complete lockdown of horse movements in much of QLD and NSW as a result of a rogue infection that escaped Australian Quarantine with potentially devastating effects on the equine industry) she was bred to be a dressage horse and had success in her early career. Some breathing issues combined with a lack of interest on her behalf put an end to her dressage career and instead she has embraced the role of People Whisperer with enthusiasm.

Our Calendar

Workshop 1 See with Fresh Eyes – Getting started 

Thursday April 6th  (Tashkent, Dungog) (limited places still available)

Saturday  April 22nd (Yaroonga, Blandford)

Workshop 2 Deepening

These workshops are no longer scheduled but will be offered “on demand”. They are designed to deepen the practices from both our Getting Started Workshop and one day Custom  Organisational Workshops. If you are interested in doing one please contact us

Save the Date

At the moment these dates are all designated as See with Fresh Eyes – Getting Started. We may change some to be new standalone modules or too a Deepening if requested.

  • April 29th Yaroonga
  • May 8th Yaroonga
  • May 15th Tashkent
  • June 3rd Yaroonga
  • June 10th Tashkent
  • June 23rd Tashkent
  • June 28th Yaroonga

The problem with Vulnerability

Like many people I first came across the work of Brene Brown through her TedEx Huston presentation (which at 13 055 030 and counting on the Ted platform alone is one of the most watched Ted talks ever) and have since dived in very deep to her work. There often seems to be two worlds in which knowledge operates. One if the academic world where a lot of rigor is placed around primary research, literature review and writing dry dense academic papers that are off-putting and intimidating for the large majority of readers, where the other is the free-form, largely unreferenced, highly anecdotal but highly accessible writing of various individuals who’s credentials are not always obvious and sometimes dubious.  What I love about  Brene Brown’s work is that it grows from her academic work, but it is so accessible to us all that it can touch and influence so many lives.

She does not run the Guru model. As someone talking to us about vulnerability she never claims to have beaten it, to have the the 5 tips to invulnerability, the 10 fail-safe strategies for overcoming imperfection, rather she makes herself entirely vulnerable and allows us to see her imperfect self. Good on her !

So what is the problem with vulnerability? Actually the problem is with our interpretation of the word, our confusion of it with weakness. As I am want to do, I googled the definition of vulnerability for its usage outside of the context of personal growth. Before I started the first phrase that had jumped to my mind was “the castle defenses were vulnerable to attack through the postern gate ” (don’t ask me why, perhaps because I went to school near a castle and I still carry a lot of baggage from my school years, fondly though I mostly remember them) which for attackers was perhaps better that the sewer! As we might also say something like the postern gate was a weak point in the castle’s defenses the mind goes “hmm they are vulnerable because there is a weak spot, therefor to be vulnerable is to be weak”.

So, Oxford Dictionary definition of vulnerable

“exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally: we were in a vulnerable position, small fish are vulnerable to predators”

Exposed to the possibility of attack! Wow. Every time you put forth a new idea, every time you are required to give or ask for feedback, every time you create something new or open your heart to someone you are exposed to the possibility of attack (or something that feels like attack) but if you do it anyway that is not being weak, that is being courageous.

I love this little clip about changing  language for better understanding “A new sign for Vulnerability”

And because new life is always vulnerable, young Renlyn TK, 3 days old 29 December 2013

Renlyn day three

New Beginnings

So 2013 is over and my facebook feed is full of New year Wishes for 2014. As it is also the year of the Horse again, a lot of those wishes are horse shaped. So ever hopeful my photoshop expertise would suddenly be enhanced by neglect I attempted to create my own Year of the Horse New Year Card.

This little guy is Renlyn TK, born 26/12/2013 photographed on 1/1/2014 and galloping into the New Year full of expectation.

New Year copy

 

I guess it is one of those “the only way is up” moments. The “if your try you may fail, but if you don’t try you have failed before you start” or perhaps “treat every failure as a lesson”.

My New years Resolution is (alongside the perennials that aren’t even worth mentioning)  to pay some serious attention to my post processing skills and source some one to teach me.

 

A Blank Slate

I’m a little distracted at the moment. It is that time of the year when my sleep is disturbed by the constant beep, beep, beep that demands I get out of bed, search around for my clothes, find the torch and stumble over to the yards. There I am greeted by a hopeful face (green eyes glowing back at me from the torch light) that was having a but of a rub and on hearing the house door open has been alerted to the possibility of a midnight snack.

Just occasionally the alarm has done its job and instead of the hungry hippo I am greeted by the shape of a grunting beached whale and it is on. I grab the iodine and settle in to ensure all goes smoothly.

The first of four arrived this week, at 1.00 am Monday morning to be precise. He has his whole life ahead of him, I wonder what will be written on his slate?

Djohari and Rozze (1024x942)

 

 

The Future of Leadership or Future Leaders?

I had a discussion with a colleague about the expression “Future Leaders” the other day and as  it often is the discussion centered around our subjective interpretation. Her point was that we shouldn’t be waiting for some “future time” to become leaders, we are all potential leaders now. The seeds of leadership are in all of us, it is a matter of realizing them, not waiting for leadership to be bestowed on us sometime in the future.  That is the philosophical view that sits at the heart of what we do with the horsework at Horsanity. Providing an experience that opens people to their own internal  leadership capability and how that integrates with their outer world.

IMG_8362 (427x640)

My interpretation was not about bestowing leadership on someone in the future, but about generational change. Who will be the leaders we see “in the future” in both formal and informal positions of leadership, those at the helm of organisations , professions or social movements. The highly visible leaders. To become those visible leaders, these leaders of the future need to be opened to their leadership capability now. A reason for working not just with today’s recognised organisational leaders, but also with those at the beginning of a career, in junior positions, at University, at school. It is why I am so excited to be working with the Future Leader Ignite program of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

Chioce

And then there is the question of what is required to be drawn forth from leaders “in the future”. What new as yet un-dreamt of challenges will they need to meet? It is thus with great interest I read a report by the World Economic Forum from the Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership :

Tomorrow’s leaders will need to go beyond the limits of the system within which society operates today to perceive what those systems might become”

A new leadership space is opening that

will require a profound leader journey. At the heart of this journey is an inner and outer journey. The inner journey describes how the leader learns through reflection, mentoring and practice. The outer journey describes the crucible experiences in which leadership is forged and includes challenge, risk and working at the edge of the system“.

Enter Horsanity stage right!

Horsanity 420 (2)

Building strength through self-compassion

In my former life I was given an assessment by my peers that my greatest “skill” was compassion. I reacted very negatively to this feed back. Compassion after all did not seem to have any direct correlation to boosting our revenue, to giving clients accurate and timely results, to being able to advise them from a position of knowledge and business acumen or even to being able to transfer my (apparently non existent) skills to other in the business, Clearly they could not  think of anything nice and businessy to say about me so they came up with something that seemed nice whilst backhandedly giving me a slap about the chops. I almost spat, like cat.

cat

And I continued to beat myself up about being a waste of space, a failure as a good little worker bee, as a human being, if the only thing I was good at was being compassionate.

Do you see the hole here?

I may well have been perceived as being compassionate to others but there wasn’t a whole lot of self compassion going on. What was going on was a whole lot of repression, of just push it down, keep a lid on it, ignore the pain, grin and bare it. Write out those to do lists,  repeat a few affirmations, but above all do not under any circumstances acknowledge the pain.

The truth is that I did have those other skills; except perhaps for being timely, that has always been a struggle for me. Not being “on time” to get somewhere, I’m generally pretty good at that, it’s a simple goal, but to weave complex threads together to finish in a timely manner without getting lost in a maze of side roads and rabbit holes as something attracts my interest.

In the end I could not contain it any more. I had to do something and that something was to leave my business and enter a new one where my outward focused compassion was perceived (by me) as a more positive attribute.

Horsanity Jackpot (1024x683)

And along the way I started to develop just a little bit of self compassion. Wow, you mean I can be kind to myself as well as to others! Surely not. Does that not mean I am just giving my self a bit of self pity, or an excuse to slack off, to be a wuss? Not at all. To be have self compassion is first to be aware of the pain you are feeling, to be mindful, to acknowledge with no judgement and to accept and be self comforting in order to be resilient. Not to hide the pain, suppress it, try and make it go away.  Rather like the description of courage as being afraid but doing what has to be done anyway.

Recently I have been following the work of Kristen Neff and finding it is helping to build a process to rely on around what was developing ad hoc.

 

 

Innovation and Creativity – A beginning

I was doing a bit of musing about some low-tech innovations that I am the beneficiary of but first need to take the photo that explains it, so when an article appeared in my inbox about creativity, innovation the neuroscientific understanding of the process, I thought I’d talk about creativity and innovation in general.

So lets get clear on what I mean by creativity.

I feel the need to do so because for many years I had a very narrow definition of what creativity meant. Where or how I picked it up I don’t know but it  is so deeply seated that it tries every now and again to steer my thinking. In my little universe I divided people into two types, those who are creative and those who aren’t. Those who are creative are artistic, and those that are artistic do one of two things, paint (and draw) or play music. So if someone said to me “you are so creative”, I’d bemusedly deny it as both playing music and drawing are way out of my skill set. And besides, I’m a scientist I’d say. (Even though it is many years since I have worked in any scientific capacity, I still identify myself that way which is is why I get so excited about Neuroscience articles). So sorry all you photographers, writers, film makers, dancers, cake decorators, knitters of the world according to DjD you are neither creative nor artistic.

How silly is that! I probably got told in an art class at primary school that I had no future as an artist and from then on art meant painting and I was hopeless at it.

Here are a few definitions of creative garnered from almighty Google

  1. Characterized by originality and expressiveness; imaginative
  2. The tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others
  3. Any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one
  4. Relating to or involving the use of the imagination or original ideas to create something
  5. Having or showing an ability to make new things or think of new ideas
  6. Generating new ideas and concepts, or making connections between ideas where none previously existed.

I particularly like the one from this mornings article “the purposeful generation and implementation of a novel idea”. Within an organisation that becomes valuable when it “results in a measurably useful outcome”. In fact we can all be creative (regardless of our ability to wield a hog bristle filbert) and we can develop our creativity given the right conditions.. Our organisations, our world, is crying out for us to increase our creativity in response to the ever increasing complexity of life. We need creativity to pervade everything from the response to how to improve customer service to tackling climate change and species extinction.

The first step –  Idea generation

A fallow field

After the rain

In traditional agriculture a field was left fallow (no crop) one year in three. A period of rest for the soil, that led to a stronger and more productive crop the following year. In order for creativity to flourish we need a fallow mind. Not an empty mind, a fallow field is not devoid of life, but one where there is space for new ideas to generate and be noticed. To put it another way, an open mind, a mind that is not overly constrained by rules. From a Neuroscience perspective – lower cognitive control. A playful mind

creative play

When we take people out of their normal environment and into the paddock with our horses, we give them an opportunity to open their minds, to be a bit playful, to be unconstrained by the usual clutter of their work day mind. We offer them a fallow field in which to open to their creativity.