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Subjective Consciousness: What am I? | SpringerLink

Only then do you benefit from the real beauty and magnificence of these elegantly proud creatures. It is here, in the humble domain of a dusty paddock, that true leaders learn the art of nobility, charisma, trustworthiness, dignity and accountability.

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It is here that more sensitive would-be leaders at last gain permission to claim their power, because they see its true face—love. They also learn that sensitivity is useless unless coupled with some real backbone—boundaries and clarity, coupled with compassion and flexibility, make for a potent combination.

When clients try these generous means inside their organization, miracles happen. Previously unengaged employees begin taking initiative. People begin to tell the truth. Communication improves. Outside-the-box possibilities emerge. All that life-force has to go somewhere. When we deny ourselves our rightful empowered place, our power goes out sideways, in more destructive expressions. Passive aggression, gossip, underhanded manipulation, backstabbing, secrecy, depression and addiction are all part of the tapestry of self-oppression. Yes, admit it, we sensitives can be pretty tyrannical when driven underground.

Needy, possessiveness can look and feel like love, when really it corrodes it. The loudest, most cunning and most forceful among us are not the most powerful. And a sea-change is happening inside companies and organizations that is quietly yet surely reflecting this fact. I have a folding plastic chair that I keep near the horse paddock, home to a small family of six horses.

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Many times a week, I hoist the chair over the railing, unfold it in the middle of the enclosure and just sit. Sometimes things are tangibly still, like sitting inside a Tibetan monastery. Sometimes, things are moving—one horse pushing another with silent subtle gestures, which leads to the movement of others—a sea of to and fro. At other times, things are playful and robust, with dust flying and giant bodies tumbling and arching.

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Sit around and watch the horses long enough, and you notice a deliberate regularity to their behavior that serves a common purpose of safety, peace, joy and success. The horse herd is a million-year-old system that not only succeeds, it thrives. Allegorical use of horses as a window into the management of our own social organizations may seem at best romantic, and at worst a cheap stretch.

But this thinking not only over estimates our superiority, it underestimates the intelligence of nature. And, in fact, as mammals, our brains are hardwired for the same need for safety and success as the horse. It is our nature-deficient culture that robs us of true insight, robbing us of wisdom that could prevent professional and organizational demise.

And the people working inside these organizations fare even worse. Top-level executives increasingly experience depression, anxiety, burnout and breakdown. But statistics for professionals are nearly impossible to come by due to the stigma surrounding the topic. Our culture defines a limited way of leading and being in organizations.

With its dominant, hierarchal, hard-fisted, do-more-with-less, might-means-right world view, our lens through which we imagine a successful organization is distorted.

And without clear seeing, we see no way out except through prescription medications. Such distortion dictates historical accounts, scientific assumptions and education, and hence perpetuates itself. So when we look to the horse for wisdom, we realize that it even cloaks the truth behind true herd behavior. But peer into the horse kingdom with clear eyes, free from the mythical cultural overlay, and you will discover that something quite different is happening.

Often it is a mare, or a team of mares who govern the herd, and a stallion or gelding in a domestic herd might also share this position with the mare s. Imagine if, as children, we were told the truth about the herd, how that might have differently informed our sense of true power.

How does it all work, and how can it work in an organization? In order to liberate power, the herd has some very specific emotional and psychological needs. The needs are interdependent, and when applied to organizational dynamics, liberate all kinds of capital not only for the organization, but for each member. Their lives depend on it. He is pretending he is not there. He is aiming to be invisible and unthreatening, yet aiming to eat a horse.

To survive, horses must have such a keen sense of their surroundings. One has to appreciate this capacity for extremely subtle nuances of sensitivity. We register incongruences all the time, but we talk ourselves out of them. No wonder modern culture experiences increasing rates of chronic anxiety. Incongruence is a threat. And without congruence people, and horses, feel existentially unsafe. But there is a deeper nuance to congruence here that is essential: to be as one is, in any given moment. This is a state of being that is about being fully present moment to moment, without some subtle contraction to change it, alter it, judge it.

If I am anxious, I let the anxiety live inside me without panic. If I am bored, I allow it to be. This may sound radical.


Change only happens through real presence, peace and calm. In learning to be congruent, we learn to tell ourselves the truth. I suggest this practice to my clients: each day, all day, tell yourself the truth. Pressuring yourself to do that undermines your practice because it will make your task seem too overwhelming. No, just keep with a simple internal practice of telling yourself the truth. Just notice; tell yourself the truth.

I Think I Am a Verb

Is your gut telling you to be weary of that new girlfriend? With our clients, working to master presence and congruence is a fundamental practice that underlies all of our other work. And here the horses are expert teachers. Horses and people need to feel that those around them are congruent — telling the truth and telling themselves the truth.

Here again the dominant cultural paradigm misleads us. What causes them concern is when we are feeling a so-called negative emotion and not comfortable with it. That registers as incongruence. The tale is based on a misunderstanding—most people are uncomfortable with fear, and it is that incongruence that makes a horse mistrusting, not the fear.

The tale is also based on a basic cultural overlay that emotions are not good things, and need to be controlled at all cost.

by Gilbert Parker

Kerry J. In our work at the Institute, we coach our clients to be emotionally courageous, to be able to bear and be fully present with their entire range of feelings and emotions.

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  5. They then cultivate that skill to apply courageous presence with others, and thus wield a powerful, effective, confident and positive influence especially in high anxiety situations.