After four years of research, writing, and practical skills development, Linda Kohanov has finished her fourth book. The Power of the Herd: A Non-Predatory Approach to Social Intelligence, Leadership, and Innovation will be published in early 2013.
“More than any of my previous books, this one has practical skills that allow people to translate the non-predatory power, relaxed yet expanded awareness, and emotional/social intelligence that horses teach directly into the human world,” Linda says. “As a result, this book took a good two years longer to write than I originally anticipated. I was truly amazed, as I dove ever more deeply into this topic, how profound horse wisdom is when translated into words and procedures for living life to the fullest!”
The horse perspective, in fact, allowed Linda to look at human behavior from a unique perspective. “I realized that many of the challenges we currently face cannot be solved by debating and defending surface ideology,” she says. “Over time, I was able to isolate four highly unproductive habits humans engage, regardless of their religious, cultural, philosophical, or political background, which I call the Stone Age Power Tools. I argue that if we refrain from using these antiquated yet still prevalent ways of dealing with stress and trying to influence others—replacing these habits with twelve Guiding Principles that offer a non-predatory approach to interpersonal challenges, personal empowerment, and creativity—our world cannot help but change for the better.”
While the book itself is still in production, a pre-release version of The Power of the Herd will be used as a guidebook for Linda’s fall Pioneering Spirit: Leadership for the 21st Century workshops. “Whether you are a parent, employee, entrepreneur, student, business leader, social activist, church leader, or equestrian, skills associated with personal empowerment, motivating others, dealing effectively with others’ emotions, moving expediently through conflict, and helping people work together to achieve even the simplest goals are essential to being successful in the world, feeling fulfilled, and making a difference. These are precisely the skills horses are able to teach in fresh new ways. I’m so excited to finally be able to put these skills into words and step-by-step procedures that, especially when taught in combination with horse activities designed to isolate these skills, have already proven to be highly effective in changing lives.”
Linda is so excited about making this work available to people this fall that she is offering a special rate for the Pioneering Spirit workshops offered October 11-14, 2012 and November 15-18, 2012. Those who register by August 20 will receive fifteen percent off the tuition fee and will be sent a pre-release copy of The Power of the Herd to read in preparation for the workshop, which will cover all twelve of the Power of the Herd Guiding Principles, through experiential work with the horses and tools for translating these skills to human contexts.
In the meantime, here are a few quotes from the book:
For thousands of years, the invisible forces of charisma, bravery, poise, focus, endurance, and conviction have been most reliably bolstered by a silent, non-predatory tutor. Recognizing the horse’s multi-cultural importance, not just as a beast of burden, or even a companion of kings, but as a teacher of kings, conquerors, heroes, and pioneers, is an essential first step in wrestling this wisdom from obscurity and purposefully exercising it in the future.
The horse stands at the place where all trails come together, and a new moon shines upon us. To retrace the steps of sorrow and injustice, courage, compassion and innovation—elevated by a being that has been used for both conquest and freedom—is to know the dark and light of power.
To become a student of the horse—rather than a calculating, disconnected master—is to master our own predatory tendencies, reclaiming our original calling to move beyond instinct in partnership with nature, tapping our potential to become visionary leaders capable of rallying the endlessly evolving, fully conscious forces of a truly empowered herd. (Chapter Twelve)
The training my horses provided encouraged me to gaze ever more deeply into the limitations of my own socially-conditioned mind, allowing me to glimpse “civilized” human behavior through a wider lens. Staring at historical and current events from this new perspective, I realized that whether I was a left-wing democrat, a right-wing republican, a fundamentalist Christian, a radical feminist, a gay rights advocate, a communist, fascist, creationist or scientist, my effectiveness in the world was likely to be impaired by the exact same unconscious habits. Our ancestors had sailed across a potentially hostile ocean to escape the ravages of persecution and tyranny, hoping for a fresh start in the land of the free and the home of the brave, only to build wildly hopeful structures of democracy on the same faulty foundation of long-buried, largely nonverbal assumptions and behaviors. For this reason, I doubted technology would save us; neither would liberal and conservative agendas based on the same worn-out neural pathways meandering through our fearful, body-phobic, increasingly dissociative, egotistical, machine-worshipping heads. (Chapter Three)
These unproductive power strategies are universal, existing below the surface of ideology. And yet they’re sometimes reinforced in the name of tribal tradition, religion, and/or social pressure. In reality major world religions explicitly discourage most of these behaviors, but they are incredibly insidious. Over the last three thousand years or so, religious, cultural, moral, and even legal efforts to curtail some of these harmful habits have been marginally successful as people continue to cling to what they know. I’ve grappled with them myself. I’ve seen devout Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Native Americans, atheists, politicians, scientists, educators, entrepreneurs, horse trainers, new age idealists, open-hearted social activists, and predatory sociopaths all use them over the years, with predictably damaging results, providing short-term solutions that stir up more trouble in the long run, often causing significant suffering that subsequent generations are forced to mop up. (Chapter Twelve)
How often do we read about the mythic or historical adventures of heroes, barely noticing the silent heroes they ride? What is a hero, after all? Someone who transcends survival instincts to face the unknown, sometimes enduring terrifying ordeals for a greater cause? Someone who remains poised in the midst of turmoil, who prevails despite the odds to capture a treasure from the gods, an uplifting innovation, enduring significant hardships to bring some glistening piece of magic back to the tribe?
By this definition, horses are every bit as heroic as their riders, perhaps even more so: a prey animal going to war is the epitome of a counterintuitive, wholly unnatural move. And yet, horses re-connect us to nature, more specifically to nature’s gifts, her ability to not just challenge, but nourish, inspire, and renew us.
And so, after the long journey we’ve taken together, we come to the deepest, most healing piece of horse wisdom I can offer: The importance of joy, awe, wonder, and inspiration, of celebrating the talents and intelligence of other beings, appreciating daily acts of kindness and courage, as well as the beauty of this world we all share, most especially those rural areas and wilderness preserves we must guard as blessings from a benevolent force still urging us to grow out of fitful adolescence into real maturity, empowered empathy, agile understanding, and unbridled yet compassionate creativity.
Horse wisdom, fully activated in humans, requires paying attention to what is good and right with the world, and expanding that, even as we protect ourselves from predators hiding in the grass. No matter what’s happening around us, the emotional agility, social intelligence, and fear management skills horses teach help us deal efficiently with technical difficulties and interpersonal challenges—and then “go back to grazing.” Over time, as we learn to ride life’s roller coaster with ease, an underlying sense of “deep peace” emerges and strengthens. We find that we can let go of the stories that tie us to past injustice. And we can fully enjoy the present, knowing that we are courageous, empowered, and adaptable enough to meet the future with the relaxed yet expanded awareness of a mature herd leader.
Now that horses are no longer obliged to work in our fields and carry us to war, they’re doing something more important: They’re working on us, helping us reclaim, daily, a hint of paradise not so much lost as misplaced. In rekindling our relationship with horses as guides—as catalysts of human transformation going back at least 30,000 years—we can’t help but realize that even when we wander off the main trail and get lost in the woods, we’re never alone in this world.
We have the tools. The schoolmasters are waiting at the barn. So saddle up, open that gate, head toward the mountains.
And, most importantly, enjoy the ride!
(Guiding Principle Twelve)