What might we all accomplish if we finally understood how to be powerful, together?
In Linda Kohanov’s 2013 book The Power of the Herd, and in her upcoming book The Five Roles of a Master Herder (due in June 2016), she takes an in-depth look at traditional herding cultures where tribes must manage large groups of powerful animals without the benefit of fences. As a result, Master Herders employ a sophisticated understanding of leadership and group cohesion as they move through seasonal grazing lands, facing predators, and dealing with changing climates/resources along the way. This knowledge, virtually lost to modern “civilized” leaders, is based in part on the little-known fact that among cattle and horses, the herd leader and the herd dominant are often different animals. Furthermore, group coordination and solidarity are reinforced through acts of daily acts of companionship and nurturing.
“Leaders, dominants, sentinels and nurturer/companions are all crucial to herd cohesiveness,” Linda writes. “Among horses and other large herbivores, herd members tend to play more than one role, though few are fluent in all the roles. The thing about being human among animals ten times your size is that you really do need to perform all these roles well to become a Master Herder, especially in the great unfenced back-country where freedom abides. As humans, we also need to separate predatory power from the other four roles. When used consciously and judiciously, the predator role helps us keep life in balance with available resources. But for the most part, it is important to employ the Dominant, Leader, Sentinel and Nurturer/Companion roles in their non-predatory forms.”
Linda has drawn compelling insights from this research to create a variety of horse-facilitated activities that effectively teach the non-verbal leadership and communication skills associated with these varied roles, boosting people’s ability to engage in empowered relationships with humans at work, school, home, church, and in political and social activism contexts. “It’s truly amazing what you can accomplish if you know how to engage leadership, dominance, sentinel, and companionship-related skills—without becoming abusive or indulgent,” she says. “Understanding the differences between these ‘power tools,’ when to employ them, and how to combine them has been a revelation!”
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the skills you will learn during the upcoming Mirror of Relationships workshop.
You will learn:
- The basic formula for assertiveness
- How to engage in mutually respectful relationships with others.
- How to use emotions as information, as horses do.
- How to read the nonverbal language of your own body and that of others, and in the process, tap a powerful source of wisdom.
- To gain greater access to intuition and creativity.
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