28 Dec The one thing horses can teach you about leadership…

I recently had the opportunity to see Jean-Jacques Joris in action, and spoke to him about his work with mindfulness, psychotherapy, life-coaching, and leadership training… with horses.  A native of Geneva, Switzerland, Jean-Jacques Joris spent 15 years in the Swiss foreign service where he was confronted with acute human suffering while also witnessing the power of human resiliency.  Wishing to shift his focus from the political to the individual realm, Jean-Jacques now builds bridges among people of different cultural, political and religious backgrounds.

I asked Jean-Jacques for his unique perspective on what we can learn about leadership from horses, and you can watch the 10-minute conversation, or read my condensed notes below.  The one thing?  Curiosity!

1. Tell me how your work relates to leadership?

Your need to be aligned and have total awareness. Emotions are the most important aspect to tap into.

2. How does this relate to leadership?

You deal with uncertainty. It’s not just knowledge, but communication style as well.
Fear, excitement, anger, regret, guilt, shame, etc. How do those play into your style?

3. What is some of the preamble that you deliver to participants so they’re open to the experience?

Mindfulness. Curiosity. Openness. Curious about yourself, people, your market, and the broader environment. Can one have a non-discrimnating curiosity. What’s worthy of your attention.

4. What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Put oneself into the picture (be present). Have a broad understanding of one’s impact. Not just a singular objective, but taking care of the process while achieving the goal. Broad impact on the world.

5. Which people get the most out of the experience with horses, and does it relate to leadership?

Curiosity and humor. Don’t need a certain thinking and emotional pattern – just need to be honest.

6. What about courage and humility and discipline to focus?

Courage is not absence of fear – recognize it for what it is. How do I work with it? Curiosity has a lot to do with humility. You need to be humble to be curious. You need to be courageous in order to be humble and curious, because it must engage your “not knowing mind” (you don’t know everything). The courage to say, “I don’t know.”

7. Mindfulness and Hearing the Unheard. How does solitude and introspection inform the decision for a leader?

They’re fundamental. Mindfulness not for enlightenment, but to see the inner working of one’s mind. Solitude and silence – away from the daily tumult – are key to solving problems. Know yourself to be more effective.

8. What does self reliance mean to you in the context of leadership?

Finding the right balance between awareness of our interconnectedness at all levels… and trust. Trust goes back to courage and humility – you will make mistakes. Trust and awareness of interconnectedness.

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