The Power of the Herd: A Nonpredatory Approach to Social Intelligence, Leadership, and Innovation

The Power of the Herd: A Nonpredatory Approach to Social Intelligence, Leadership, and Innovation

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by Linda Kohanov
     
 

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Linda Kohanov is beloved for her groundbreaking articulation of “the way of the horse,” an experiential wisdom known to riders for centuries but little studied or adapted to off-horse use. Now Kohanov takes those horse-inspired insights on exceptional communication and leadership into the realms of our workplaces and relationships. Here we explore the

Overview


Linda Kohanov is beloved for her groundbreaking articulation of “the way of the horse,” an experiential wisdom known to riders for centuries but little studied or adapted to off-horse use. Now Kohanov takes those horse-inspired insights on exceptional communication and leadership into the realms of our workplaces and relationships. Here we explore the benefits of “nonpredatory power” in developing assertiveness, fostering creativity, dealing with conflict, and heightening mind-body awareness.

In the first part of this far-reaching book, Kohanov profiles cultural innovators who employed extraordinary nonverbal leadership skills to change history, usually on horseback: Winston Churchill, George Washington, Alexander the Great, and the Buddha, among others. She also draws on the behavior of mature horse herds, as well as the herding cultures of Africa and Mongolia, to debunk theories of dominance hierarchies, challenge ingrained notions of “survival of the fittest,” and demonstrate the power of a consensual leadership in which governing roles are fluid.

Kohanov adapts these lessons into twelve powerful guiding principles we can all incorporate into our work and personal lives. Eloquent and provocative, this is horse sense for everyone who seeks to thrive in the herds we all run in — our communities, careers, families, and friendships.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kohanov bought her first horse in the early 1990s, when she was in her 30s, and it changed her life. She learned more about motivation from horses than she previously had from human relationships and has since transformed her life, now lecturing and conducting equine-based workshops and training programs around the world. Her book, however, is a complex and multi-layered one that can read like a textbook, particularly when she writes about "intersubjective awareness" or "objectification and projection". Other times it feels like a history book; she employs famous horsemen like George Washington, Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan to make key points about leadership. And sometimes it acts as a mystical handbook, discussing "grazing" or "letting go" of emotion and its important link to success. It's certainly not easy reading, however. Kohanov is clearly well-read and has researched widely, as evidenced by her extensive endnotes. For readers willing to embark on a slow and steady read, however, there are many rewards as Kohanov explains the "interspecies culture", the connection between "emotional intelligence" and professional success and shares meaningful examples of individuals who have learned valuable life lessons from their horses. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

“An innovative path to leadership and a journey of self-discovery.”
Peter A. Levine, PhD, author of Waking the Tiger and In an Unspoken Voice

“Once again, Linda Kohanov shows us a much-needed alternative to business-as-usual in our relationships with each other and with other species.”
Christian de Quincey, PhD, author of Radical Nature and Radical Knowing

“Linda Kohanov has created a unique synthesis of myth, symbology, psychology, neuroscience, and, most important of all, the insight she has gained from horses to give us a manual to guide ourselves and our leaders through the twenty-first century and beyond. In this book, a must for every leader, or everyone who wants to be one — in his or her own life and in our world at large — she takes horsemanship from a personal level to a global one.”
Allan J. Hamilton, MD, FACS, author of Zen Mind, Zen Horse

“In The Power of the Herd Linda Kohanov reveals the ways in which humans can learn from the behavior and social infrastructure of horses. Well written and well researched, this book is a valuable contribution to the literature on interspecies communication.”
Andrew Weil, MD, author of Spontaneous Happiness

“Complex and multi-layered....there are many rewards as Kohanov explains the ‘interspecies culture,’ the connection between ‘emotional intelligence’ and professional success and shares meaningful examples of individuals who have learned valuable life lessons from their horses.”
Publishers Weekly

“Belongs at the top of your list of books to read this year. Sweeping in scope, Kohanov’s latest work is a blend of scholarship and storytelling so finely crafted that you’ll want to pause occasionally just to marvel at the quality of the writing. It’s a fascinating read, brought to life with examples drawn from historical figures and the evolution of human development as well as lessons learned from years of working with her beloved horses. This is a book to be savored.”
Bob Wall, author of Coaching for Emotional Intelligence

“For millennia we humans were mere prey. We’re here only because some of our ancestors could mimic the animals who knew how to run the gauntlet of the great carnivores. Horses are one of those creatures still amongst us. Linda Kohanov is that rare twenty-first-century watcher with the wit to see the lessons horses can still teach us and the talent to harness it in this remarkable book. She lays out a powerful case that our evolution still rides on the shoulders of these giants.”
Meg Daley Olmert, author of Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781577316817
Publisher:
New World Library
Publication date:
02/15/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
464
File size:
1 MB

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

The Power of the Herd

A Nonpredatory Approach to Social Intelligence, Leadership, and Innovation


By Linda Kohanov

New World Library

Copyright © 2013 Linda Kohanov
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60868-372-7



CHAPTER 1

THE HORSE IN MY CATHEDRAL


Nearly a century after Antoni Gaudí's death, his architectural masterpiece Sagrada Familia is barely half finished, yet millions of people travel from around the world to marvel at Barcelona's controversial cathedral in progress. Several on-site conversions have taken place over the years, fortifying a Vatican-sanctioned movement to grant sainthood to the reclusive artist. Gazing into Sagrada Familia's parabolic arched doorways, soaring towers, and other gravity-defying effects, Japanese architect Kenji Imai had a religious experience, eventually converting to Christianity as he studied the work in depth. And it's no wonder: Gaudí's neomedieval structures and biomorphic forms combine the highest aspirations of humanity with the flowing artistry of nature. Somehow defying logic, convention, and, at times, the laws of physics, this massive stone basilica has a soft, melting appearance, creating the impression that it's slowly being molded into existence by God's own everlasting hand.

For Gaudí, Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) was a mission transcending personal concerns. He worked on it for over four decades, eventually taking up residence on-site and devoting his final years to the project with increasing obsession. "My client is not in a hurry," he once said, responding to the frustration that workers voiced as he made constant changes to the architectural plans.

Gaudí literally lived the concept of cathedral thinking. This term describes an emerging philosophy of sorts, one that explores the mind-set involved in tackling any long-term vision. It contrasts sharply with our modern, quick-fix mentality, but socially conscious leaders recognize that significant, sustainable change requires generational effort. And so, an increasing number of innovative thinkers — in business, art, politics, and science — are interested in the 150-year process that built Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. They're even more fascinated with Germany's Cologne Cathedral, which survived numerous wars, recessions, political movements, and religious reforms during the 632 years of construction before the final stone was set in place.

For cathedral thinkers, Sagrada Familia represents the ultimate, real-time case study of how an ambitious vision persists and evolves over time. Construction started in 1882 and continued uninterrupted after Gaudí's sudden death in 1926 — that is, until communists in the Spanish Civil War set fire to the architect's study ten years later, destroying his primary drawings. The project resumed in 1952 with dedicated and imaginative devotees piecing together surviving notes and models. Since then a succession of at least a half-dozen talented architects have immersed themselves in the project, with the son of one of them introducing computers into the design process in the 1980s.

The opportunity provided by Sagrada Familia is far more valuable than the details of its construction. Here we have the chance to interview workers about the human concerns involved. Historical accounts rarely reveal the emotional, organizational, and interpersonal challenges; the daily failures and frustrations no one really wants to talk about; and the vulnerabilities no one wants to admit to, let alone recount in nauseating detail — unless, that is, the subjects are still alive and can somehow be convinced that their personal foibles are as important as their triumphs in assisting others with ambitious, perhaps divinely inspired goals. People who build neogothic basilicas are the most likely candidates, as they're already psychologically predisposed to support the ongoing education and initiation of future generations.

Whether you're building a church, a business, or a mandate for social change, cathedral thinking presupposes that the vision you initiate must be handed over to others, that everyone involved will be laboring on faith at times, that people will share their most innovative ideas and tools, that the plans will change, that the blueprints may even be lost, and that the most important part of your job will be to inspire, in every neophyte who joins your team, reverence for a project you will never see completed. This mind-set comes with a host of emotional quagmires, some of which are so existential in nature that they question the very foundations of survival-oriented behavior, challenging us to resist flight-or-fight impulses, urging us to evolve beyond our current obsession with safety, comfort, and predictability, let alone personal gain and recognition. At the same time, multigenerational thinking demands that we use our human resources wisely. We must take care of each other to bring out the best in each other.

In this book — for lack of the funding, connections, and Spanish language skills necessary to travel to Barcelona and talk key members of the Sagrada Familia staff into confessing their deepest, darkest cathedral-building secrets — I will, at times, share a few of the more pertinent, sometimes insightful, sometimes embarrassing details of my own efforts to create something of lasting value.

A brief history: In 1997, Epona Equestrian Services, an equine-facilitated learning program and referral agency, was founded by a group of Tucson-based horse trainers, educators, and counselors. The cathedral we were building had no walls or ceiling, but it did combine humanity's highest aspirations with nature's flowing wisdom as we partnered with horses to teach cooperative, nonpredatory forms of empowerment, emotional fitness, social intelligence, and authentic community building. We named it after the Celtic horse goddess associated with healing and transformation, Epona, who seemed a fitting symbol for an organization that employed horses in the work of human development.

In 2001, when my first book was published, the organization suddenly attracted international attention through the force of a vision that I hadn't realized would move so many people to action. Based on growing demand, we started a multiweek apprenticeship program that qualified talented facilitators to incorporate our principles and techniques into their own programs. Along the way, we found it necessary to distinguish our carefully trained instructors from those in organizations in other states and countries that were also named after the goddess Epona. By 2012, nearly two hundred Eponaquest Instructors were operating on five continents, as Epona Equestrian Services became Eponaquest Worldwide.

The momentum had been building for years. In 2005, for instance, an influx of international students inspired us to establish an equestrian-based retreat and conference center at a historic Arizona ranch. There, a group of adventurous, highly individualistic people put our most ambitious theories to the test, and I was thrust into a leadership role that I struggled to understand and live up to. The daily challenges of running a business based on the concepts of collaboration and authentic community were significant. Our equine-facilitated learning program at Apache Springs Ranch became a living laboratory, complicated by the fact that several of us stayed on-site with clients coming and going seven days a week. Many times, I felt more like a giant lab rat than a researcher or teacher, but the power of what we preached was enhanced by the act of living it, continually working out the kinks along the way.

By 2009, the center had reached a high level of functionality, offering daylong seminars and weeklong residential workshops. Our clients included educators, counselors, clergy, trauma survivors, parents, teens, artists, engineers, and entrepreneurs looking for ways to empower themselves while relating more effectively to others. We also helped returning soldiers and their spouses practice the emotional fitness skills necessary to handle posttraumatic stress and other warrior-reintegration challenges. Even so, the business suffered debilitating financial blows when the economic crisis coincided with a crucial growth stage. By summer, our beautiful ranch had been put up for sale, and we were once again operating as an agency (albeit a more sophisticated, well-connected global one), sending clients to multiple venues.

The dynamics of living and working at Apache Springs accentuated our explorations in leadership, power, creativity, intuition, personal healing, and social transformation. All the while, the horses kept urging clients and staff alike to enjoy the ride — to soar to new heights of inspiration and expanded awareness one moment; to feel the depths of fear, vulnerability, frustration, anger, and sadness the next; to access the wisdom behind our blunders; and then to calmly, reverently go back to grazing.

As nomadic, nonpredatory beings, horses radiate immense trust in the universe. Intelligent and highly adaptable, they embody strength, freedom, spirit, gentleness, beauty, authenticity, loyalty, and grace, fully immersing themselves in the moment and always ready to explore new opportunities and ever wider vistas of experience. Equine "philosophy" values relationship over territory. In their honest, sophisticated interactions, these animals easily navigate the paradox of nourishing individual and group consciousness simultaneously. As we continue to build our cathedrals, launch our space stations, refine our governments, and explore our visions of a peaceful global society, can we, as humans, learn to do the same?


Obsession and Depression

It's no small task to think like God's architect. That's what the director of the Museum of the Barcelona Archdiocese called Gaudí after he was hit by a tram in 1926 and died in a pauper's hospital. Within days people were nominating him for sainthood, and even the most virulently anti-Catholic newspaper had nothing but praise for his artistry and dedication. His alliance with the divine, however, did not exempt him from the complexities and sorrows of earthly existence. One anonymous Internet historian cited Gaudí's unexpected demise as "a graphic illustration of the almost absurd misfortune that filled the life and work of the enigmatic Spanish architect." Sketchy reports on his final years suggest the man was severely depressed. As a number of close friends and relatives passed away, he retreated further and further into his work until nothing was left but his beloved Sagrada Familia.

Though no one knows what the seventy-four-year-old artist was thinking in those final, fateful moments, rumor has it that he absentmindedly stepped into the street to gain a wider perspective of the cathedral, only to be slammed into eternity's embrace by the relentless, impersonal momentum of public transportation. Gaudí's selfless dedication continued to work against him over the five days it took him to actually expire from his injuries. As a public figure who shunned reporters and photographers, Gaudí had seldom been photographed, so the chances of anyone recognizing him on the street were severely limited. What's more, the man cared little for appearance. Dressed like a vagabond, complete with empty pockets, he looked like a homeless man, which no doubt influenced several taxi drivers who refused to take him to the hospital. (They were later fined for negligence.) Two days after he went missing, Gaudí's friends finally found him wasting away in an indigents' ward, but he refused to be moved, reportedly saying, "I belong here among the poor."

Being hit by a tram and dying a pauper's death: that comes close to characterizing how it initially felt to lose my home and my life's savings when a massive downturn in the economy forced the closing of Apache Springs Ranch — although I think I described it to my veterinarian as being "bitch-slapped by the universe" at the end of one particularly demoralizing day. I had just returned to my newly rented home in exile after the most heart-wrenching task of all, laying off the Epona Center staff, only to find Rasa, my soul mate in equine form, suffering a life-threatening bout of colic. With my husband selling off musical equipment to support the move, I had borrowed funds from a few close friends to save my herd and cover the final ranch expenses, as I was determined that no loyal employee or vendor would be left unpaid. Yet my good intentions seemed to go unnoticed as the powers that be demanded yet another, even more heart-wrenching sacrifice. Alternately feeling supremely sorry for myself and downright resentful at my growing list of losses, I was faced with the decision to sell one of my most talented lesson horses to pay for Rasa's trip to the hospital — and endure the very real possibility of her death despite investing in her care.

Rasa carried an unusual burden for a horse. She was the original inspiration behind my equine-facilitated learning practice, the subject of my first two books, and the symbol of a growing international movement. Some people treated Rasa like a celebrity, which was a relief for me and a bit of a curse for her, as they often approached this steady, matter-of-fact mare with more reverence, excitement, and expectation than they had for the organization's human founder. That night, however, I was as guilty as anyone in associating her illness with the ultimate demise of the entire vision. Luckily, I caught myself in the act and began gently, compassionately, separating my flesh-and-blood companion from a calling she had initiated and influenced, one she nonetheless could never be held responsible for completing.

As a horse, Rasa could inspire people. She could shift consciousness, showing us new ways of relating to the world and to each other. But she was incapable of handling the organizational details involved in taking this project to the next level. In fact, the vision had already grown beyond my wildest dreams, taking on a life of its own, and I had to concede that I wasn't likely to see its completion, either.

At that moment, though I hadn't yet encountered the term, a strange surge of energy turned my brain inside out and a mind-bending dose of "cathedral thinking" completely changed my perspective.

This sudden shift was not unlike being hit by a tram and blasted into eternity's embrace, where I floated for a moment, or an hour, in a potent yet peaceful clarity, where everything suddenly made sense in the grand scheme of things. And I knew, deep in my bones, that my experience at Apache Springs was a stepping-stone, an advanced-degree program in the challenges of jump-starting a multigenerational project aimed at balancing the aggressive, needlessly destructive aspects of our culture and offering people the personal and professional tools to create lasting, meaningful change. Like Gaudí, Rasa and I had tapped into a source of inspiration that was not the least bit concerned with human concepts of time. Our client was in no hurry.

My horse survived that day, as did the mission she represented. She lived two more years, doing her best work despite an increasingly debilitating arthritic condition that led to her death at age twenty. With Rasa by my side, I felt energized and inspired, but the human element seemed relentlessly problematic. My horse remained blissfully unaware of the organizational challenges and interpersonal dramas I found so incredibly tedious. Even so, her strong, supportive presence helped me endure the elations and frustrations of blazing a new trail — with groups of people who fully expected me to know the way, no less.

In the beginning, all I had was curiosity, an adventurous spirit, a potent yet incomplete vision, and an ability to write about it. But that was enough to attract others who had an expanded view of human potential. However, while the majority of my students, colleagues, and employees were eager to step into their own power and experiment, some of them wanted me to psychically sense their needs and answer questions they didn't know how to voice. A few came looking for the perfect parent they never had, expecting me to protect them from the same interpersonal challenges I had initially found so shocking and perplexing. Still others resented my success and couldn't wait for me to fail. For years, I rode a roller coaster of inspiration, admiration, confusion, disappointment, pain — and ever deepening insight.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Power of the Herd by Linda Kohanov. Copyright © 2013 Linda Kohanov. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are saying about this

“An innovative path to leadership and a journey of self-discovery.”
Peter A. Levine, PhD, author of Waking the Tiger and In an Unspoken Voice

“Once again, Linda Kohanov shows us a much-needed alternative to business-as-usual in our relationships with each other and with other species.”
Christian de Quincey, PhD, author of Radical Nature and Radical Knowing

“Linda Kohanov has created a unique synthesis of myth, symbology, psychology, neuroscience, and, most important of all, the insight she has gained from horses to give us a manual to guide ourselves and our leaders through the twenty-first century and beyond. In this book, a must for every leader, or everyone who wants to be one — in his or her own life and in our world at large — she takes horsemanship from a personal level to a global one.”
Allan J. Hamilton, MD, FACS, author of Zen Mind, Zen Horse

“In The Power of the Herd Linda Kohanov reveals the ways in which humans can learn from the behavior and social infrastructure of horses. Well written and well researched, this book is a valuable contribution to the literature on interspecies communication.”
Andrew Weil, MD, author of Spontaneous Happiness

“Belongs at the top of your list of books to read this year. Sweeping in scope, Kohanov’s latest work is a blend of scholarship and storytelling so finely crafted that you’ll want to pause occasionally just to marvel at the quality of the writing. It’s a fascinating read, brought to life with examples drawn from historical figures and the evolution of human development as well as lessons learned from years of working with her beloved horses. This is a book to be savored.”
Bob Wall, author of Coaching for Emotional Intelligence

“For millennia we humans were mere prey. We’re here only because some of our ancestors could mimic the animals who knew how to run the gauntlet of the great carnivores. Horses are one of those creatures still amongst us. Linda Kohanov is that rare twenty-first-century watcher with the wit to see the lessons horses can still teach us and the talent to harness it in this remarkable book. She lays out a powerful case that our evolution still rides on the shoulders of these giants.”
Meg Daley Olmert, author of Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond

Meet the Author


The author of the bestseller The Tao of Equus, Linda Kohanov speaks and teaches internationally. She established Eponaquest Worldwide to explore the healing potential of working with horses and to offer programs on everything from emotional and social intelligence, leadership, stress reduction, and parenting to consensus building and mindfulness. She lives near Tucson, Arizona.

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The Power of the Herd: A Nonpredatory Approach to Social Intelligence, Leadership, and Innovation 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He cheereid
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He dippd his head to velvetstar. Juniperle nodded.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sure! Meet me at horse run first result
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Velvetstar struggled up the tree trunk, muttering about her missing claws, and called for Horseclan to gather. "First off, I want to thank each of you, for helping get me away from the twolegs nest. Your all so very loyal and brave and I'm glad and thankful to have you guys as clanmates. Speaking of clanmates, I'd like Stormpaw Jaypaw, Juniperpaw, Slightpaw, Racoonpaw, Spiritpaw and Jackalkit to come forward. Each of you apprintices ha trined well and now are ready for your warrior names. From now on, you will be known as Jaytiger, Juniperleap, Stormbird, Racoonclaw, Spiritnight, and Slightfaith! Use your new skills to serve Horseclan well!" She waited while the clan cheered their names. "Jackalkit, you will now be Jackalpaw and Servaljump will be your mentor. I also want to welcome Wolfsun and Birdstrikes s new kits, Rubykit, Crystalkit, and Inkkit, to Horseclan." Velvetstar purred happily. "I also think we have some cats locked out, so we are moving camps. I oly have time to set up the clearing but I will finish the rest later. -Canterwood Crest- is our new territory. -Horse Run- will remain our hunting territory." Velvetstar then dismissed the clan and jumped of the tree. -Velvetstar-