I learned about Trust from a small brown horse the colour of ripe chestnuts on a mountainside in Colorado. I learned that Trust was really about surrendering control and that to surrender required courage. I was not used to having courage. After many years working at senior levels of management I was used to being brave. The difference is in that by being brave I had stayed strong in the face of adversity and had knuckled down and carried on often at the cost of my personal fulfillment,values and health. Finding courage on the other hand is about letting go of our fear and doing something different, in the knowledge that there may be potentially uncomfortable consequences. Finding courage is actually about not being strong at all, and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. When we are being brave, not trusting, we carry what I call “brace” – at a muscular, emotional and spiritual level. And where there is brace it is impossible for us to fully engage with the world around us – in relationship, in respect to our dreams and our purpose.
What I also learned from that small brown horse was that more important than trusting others what I really had to do was first and foremost put trust in myself. From there I was able to embrace a real vision for the first time in my life and pursue it even though that vision seemed slightly crazy at the time. This path of self-trust and leadership led to me launch a new business which integrated horses into my client work in leadership and organisation development. Now, I am privileged time and time again to witness the magic and mystery of how these magnificent creatures – so powerful yet vulnerable and gentle themselves – help others to find courage and take strides down their own path.
To really trust ourselves, to let go of fear, and to embrace our purpose and vision means risk. But the glittering prize which awaits when we do so successfully is an encounter with our absolutely essential self, in “flow”, vital and creative. At this moment leadership becomes effortless, an act of being rather than doing. It is most likely hardly discernible at all, so closely do the followers follow.
Pam Billinge is Founder and Director of Equest Limited which offers unique horse-led leadership, organisation and personal development interventions. After a robust career in senior management and HR positions in Nokia, BAe Systems and Coopers & Lybrand, Pam went “independent” in 2006 working as a leadership coach and facilitator. She also undertook 6 years training as a body psychotherapist. You can read about Equest, embodied leadership and Pam’s remarkable story at www.equestlimited.co.uk.