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Wrestling with the Demons of Woo

Posted by Anthony Attan

Aug 28, 2013 1:30:15 PM

I wanted to share an article that FEBI-Certified Coach Amanda Blake recently wrote.  I loved this article so much I wanted to share it with our entire FEBI community!  Amanda is a very talented coach and an expert in the science of somatics.  If you're interested in this topic I strongly recommend you join the the call she is hosting September 10th on The Science of Personal Change.  I know I'll be on the call.  And for those of you new to FEBI, you can now take the full FEBI with online video debrief.  Enjoy Amanda's article on how to deal with the demons of woo...

 

Wrestling with the Demons of Woo by Amanda Blakeamanda_blake_picture-resized-600

This week, I had a meeting with a prospective client who was curious about doing some coaching with me, but also a bit hesitant. "I have to be honest, I'm just really not that comfortable with all that new-agey stuff," she said skeptically. All the way across the country on the other end of the phone line, I could almost hear her eyebrows go screeching up towards her hairline.

I totally get it. I'm a big lover of the far-out and the unexplained mysteries of life. But I also have a huge, cringing allergy to the ungrounded and hyperbolic claims that are so frequently made in the realm of personal growth.

As we would have said back in the 80's, gag me with a spoon.

But here's what I loved about our conversation. When I told her that learning to experience her body differently could help her make a good decision about her next move in her career, she asked "do you have research that supports that?" And, in fact, I did.

I told her about the somatic marker hypothesis, and explained that the parts of our brain that are involved in decision making also happen to be the same parts of our brain that are involved in parsing sensation. In other words, how we make decisions is heavily impacted by our ability to feel our own preferences. People who have lesions in thSomaticMarkerHypothesise relevant parts of the brain (the VMPFC, ACC, and OFC, for you neuroscience nerds out there) find themselves unable to make good decisions, and sometimes, any decisions at all.

I can't tell you what a delight and a relief it was for me to be able to answer her question and point her to specific resources where she could verify it for herself. Even just a few short years ago, a question like hers would leave me flustered as I struggled to explain why embodied learning is so powerfully transformative. I remember leaving many such conversations with a frustrating sense of inadequacy and a deflated sense of confidence.

Hopefully it's not that way for you! I tend to make things harder than they need to be. :-) But there are lots of reasons why you, too, might want to be able to offer a rigorous, grounded, and credible response to this kind of genuine desire to understand. If so, then here are a few things you can do.

Start Here: Choose some result that you consistently produce for people in your work. It may be reduced stress, or an ability to negotiate more effectively, or… you name it. For instance in the example I've been talking about, it's helping someone find a meaningful direction for their life and work.

Read Up: Do some research. Who are the scientists, authors, and teachers who are working in the realm you've chosen? A google scholar search always turns up interesting results.

Write The Story: Look for how the research conclusions map to the work you do. Do you see any connections between what's coming out of the lab and the results you produce? It can be a bit of effort to make those connections, but it's worth it for moments like the one I had this week.

Test It Out: Try explaining the connections you see to trusted friends and colleagues. When you've got the kinks worked out, start trying it out on clients.

If you want a bit of a shortcut, you can also join my free call on September 10th, The Science of Personal Change. We're going to be talking about the scientific basis for embodied learning and I can't wait to share it with you.

I don't know if this particular client will decide to join me or not. But whether she does or she doesn't, I was left with the impression that I introduced her to some new ways of seeing herself and her opportunities that she didn't have before. Even if we never speak again, that's an impact I can feel good about.

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Topics: coaching, decision making, embodied learning, FEBI, FEBI Certified Coach

Science of Somatics: Interview with Amanda Blake

Posted by Anthony Attan

Dec 7, 2012 12:14:00 PM

Amanda Blake is a FEBI-Certied Coach who is doing some amazing work around the Science of Somatics.  I recently caught up with Amanda about her work with leaders, her forthcoming book and how she utilizes the FEBI patterns in her work.


Amanda Blake HeadshotTell me about Stonewater Leadership.

I started Stonewater to support social change by helping people become more deeply embodied. New research is revealing - and yogis and martial artists have been telling us for generations - that as you increase self-awareness in physical, emotional, and mental domains all kinds of benefits open up, from increased health to reduced stress to greater empathy.

In my line of work as a Master Somatic Coach I primarily apply those insights to the challenges of leadership. When done right, cultivating mindful embodiment can have practical leadership benefits as well as personal benefits.

Through Stonewater I work with two groups of people: practitioners who want to learn more about the science of embodiment, and leaders - primarily social entrepreneurs - who want to increase their capacity to lead during these challenging and turbulent times.


What can we expect in your forthcoming book, Your Body Is Your Brain?

The big promise behind the book is that it will help people get smarter about what matters to them by harnessing their full intelligence, including the wisdom of the body. Your Body Is Your Brain surveys the research landscape in a wide variety of fields - biopsychology, embodied cognition, neuroscience, and psychoneuroimmunology, to name a few - and connects that research to powerful and compelling stories of change told by somatic coaching clients worldwide.

In the book, I explore how leaders can cultivate the social and emotional intelligence they need to effectively galvanize people around their vision, manage their mood when the going gets tough, handle conflict when it arises, and so on. Most importantly, I explore why it’s imperative - really, truly non-optional - to include the physical body in any kind of personal development. There are sound neurobiological reasons why this is so, and in the book I explore those reasons.


During a recent FEBI Certified Coach webinar, you discussed how subtle changes in body posture can induce powerful changes in ourselves and those around us. Can you speak more to this phenomenon?

Sure. Dr. Stephen Porges, a prominent researcher focused on the autonomic nervous system - a part of our nervous system involved in stress and relaxation - collaborated with bodyworkers to study the effects of Rolfing on stress. They found that changing the angle of the pelvic bowl from a slight anterior tilt to a more balanced position was associated with a sustained increase in parasympathetic tone. What this means, in lay terms, is that people experienced a greater sense of calm when their hips were in a healthier and more efficient anatomical position. This is because the parasympathetic nerves involved in calming physiobodybrainbehavior V2 resized 600logical systems run right through your pelvic bowl. Your everyday posture actually plays a role in your resilience to stress.

So what does this have to do with leadership and organizations? What I and other somatic coaches consistently see in our clients is that as they make sustained postural changes, several things shift in conjunction with that, including their typical mood, their sense of confidence, and their capacity to take actions that were previously difficult for them. This can include speaking up in meetings, or modulating their flashes of anger, for example. This claim that posture impacts more than just physiological health is supported by Amy Cuddy’s research on power postures at Harvard Business School, which I mentioned during the webinar.


How are you utilizing FEBI in your work? How do the patterns connect with your work?

Obviously, FEBI is a great fit with my work. Most of my work is about helping people learn how to be in their body in a new way so they can take different actions. FEBI is the only instrument I know of that goes beyond increasing self-awareness to help people actually move differently in the world, both literally and metaphorically. For this reason, it’s the only leadership assessment that I use.

I often play a little game with myself: I tend to guess at people’s FEBI profiles by watching them move, and then when I have a look at their FEBI results, I check how close I was. This has really helped me hone my ability to see how clients’ behavior and personality shows up in their gestures and comportment. Sometimes I teach in programs that don’t include use of the FEBI. In those circumstances I’ll still observe participants through the lens of the patterns and help them access new options and actions through other qualities of movement. Overall, I have found the FEBI to be a really helpful tool.

I should also add that I have written about the patterns in Your Body Is Your Brain and I refer to them as well in my Body = Brain practitioners class. I interviewed Betsy Wetzig, Ginny Whitelaw's co-author on Moving to Greatness, to get a deeper understanding of how she came to her understanding of the patterns. And several FEBI coaching clients have been generous with their time and stories as well. Many thanks to all of the wonderful folks at Focus Leadership for supporting the effort!

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Topics: FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, Coaching Tool, FEBI Certified Coach, leadership development, leadership coaching, embodied learning, managing stress, energy patterns, mindful practice

What is Whole Leadership?

Posted by Anthony Attan

Feb 24, 2012 1:39:00 PM

If you are reading this post you have likely heard the term ‘whole leadership’ and are wondering what in the world we are talking about.  You also likely care enough about leadership to wonder in the first place.  Fear not, you are in the right place.

Picture these scenarios, the leader who…

  • Has brilliant ideas but lacks the follow through to do anything with them.

  • Is incredibly hard working when alone but lacks the ability to connect or work with others.

  • Is laser focused on ambitious goals but fails to anticipate where the industry is going.

Do these people sound like the next successful leader?  The next great CEO?  Our research says most likely they are not.  Why?  They are all partial leaders. 

Although leaders should know their strengths and use them to reach desired goals, those same strengths can also get in the way of success when overused.  For example, you could have a real strength of breaking down big processes, analyzing all of the individual parts and get stuck in those details, not seeing the forest for the trees.  Or you’re a great innovator but you spend so much energy creating that nothing gets done. Whole leaders know how to use their strengths AND know when something else is needed.  Recognizing that AND often means a paradox. Whole leaders know how to strike the right balance between leveraging strengths while not becoming a victim of them. 

To further describe whole leadership let me concentrate the discussion on the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of whole leadership.  First the ‘what’.  One thing that is certainly not new about leadership, or personality in general, is that we take on preferences in how we show up in the world.   These preferences have been call personality types, cognitive modes of thinking or behavioral tendencies.  From our research, and similar to many models in the past, there are four main preferences, which we call energy patterns of personality

  • Driver – laser focused, drives for results, challenges barriers, stretches for goals, loves to win, gets to the point, fast and direct, and independent. 

  • Organizer - does the right thing, moves step by step, proper, likes order, plans and lists, neat and tidy, stable and reliable. 

  • Collaborator - engages people, has fun, rolls with the punches, sees both sides, works around obstacles, plays in the give and take, builds teams and networks. 

  • Visionary - goes with the flow, lets go, thinks in leaps, sees the big picture, seeks harmony, thinks strategically, future-oriented.

Our research has found that although we tend to favor one or two of these patterns, which we call Home Patterns, the most successful leaders are those that can easily access all four and are able to use the right pattern at the right time.  These whole leaders are able to thrive with their strengths, while not getting stuck in them.  They are able to recognize what the situation demands, what pattern is best aligned with that demand and effectively enter into that pattern to approach the situation with the right energy. Whole leaders know their strengths but have also developed a full tool box so that when their home pattern isn’t best, they can flip into what pattern is. 

This brings us to the ‘how’.  To become a whole leader means developing your whole self.  As models on personality have evolved, we now know that patterns of personality are actually impacted by a range of interconnected elements such as cognition, behavior, communication styles, our environment, our emotions and how we physically move.  The whole leader uses all of these elements collectively to develop these patterns.  At Focus Leadership, we have developed a tool called the Focus Energy Balance Indicator (FEBI) to measure these energy patterns and help leaders develop their whole self.   

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Topics: FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, FEBI Certified Coach, leadership, leadership development, whole leadership development, whole leadership, embodied learning, energy patterns

Using Physical Activies in Leadership Development Coaching

Posted by Anthony Attan

Feb 6, 2012 11:42:00 AM

Blog Rewind: We went back to our archives to bring you our most popular post form the old blog.  here is a Q & A written by Ginny Whitelaw, titled "Coaching Clients on Physical Activities for the Patterns".

Q: How, in an actual coaching session, do you recommend physical activities for developing a pattern, beyond just looking over a list of them?

A: It’s a great question, and one that I invite other coaches to share their experience on as well. For in landing on the right practices by which our clients can cultivate this or that pattern, we make the patterns deeply personal for our clients, and HOW we do that is deeply personal for us as coaches. This is how I do it: start with exactly where the client is starting:

What are you interested in?FEBI Logo

What do you love to do?

What renews you?

What did you used to make time for that you no longer do?

These are the sorts of questions I might ask. And then I listen deeply for whether they know what’s good for them or are they lost? In particular, is there something they name that could be done in the energy of the pattern they want to cultivate? And can we identify some strengths that will help them strengthen a weak pattern?

For example, one client, I’ll call her Margie, was a strong Driver and wanted to develop more Visionary. Other things I knew about Margie was she had a strong sense of responsibility (i.e., especially not letting others down), her health was starting to fail, and she was Driver-determined to “make war” (her words) on getting her life back. When I asked her about practices already in her life, she said she used to go to the gym and weightlift, but didn’t have time for it anymore – classic Driver! – but she knew she needed to get back to it. She also loved cooking, gardening, just being out in nature, but didn’t have time for those things either.

Already she had given me plenty of clues. We talked about converting her “make war” determination into committed time for a renewing practice. Using her Driver strength and sense of responsibility, I suggested keeping score (“Give yourself a point each day that you stick to your commitment, and set a target for, say, 70 points this quarter. Make a bet with a friend. If you don’t hit 70 points by end of the quarter, you owe her something you’ve agreed on.”)

Now that we had a wedge of time, how could Margie best fill it? She wanted to get back to weightlifting a couple times a week, and I told her that was great, but don’t expect that to develop the Visionary. It would be important renewal time for her, however, and would keep refreshing her “make war” determination, so I didn’t try to talk her out of it. “In addition,” I asked, and this is where the pattern activity lists come in, “Would you consider Tai Chi once a week? Done with a friend (whom she wouldn’t want to let down, of course!). In general, this is where in a coaching conversation I might bring out the lists. Do any of these speak to you? Which of these are you already doing? Which are you curious about?

As for Tai Chi and Margie, she said she would think about it, but in a way that made me think she’d do nothing more than think about it. But the seed was planted, I let it go. In the meantime, gardening was already a passion (and on the Visionary list); could she commit to an hour a week being one with her garden? And doing it in a sort of Visionary way – creating, making spaces, feeling into the nature of what wants to happen in a semi-shaded part of her yard? She was quite charged about this possibility, and I could hear it would have enough energy to get started. She also wanted to add a Visionary walk at lunch through a park near where she worked – a midday refresher that would also spark ideas for her own garden. Twenty minutes for her walks, an hour a week for her gardening, weightlifting twice a week, and a bet with a friend wrapped around all of it – a perfect starting practice for this Driver!

So there is a place for the lists – i.e., those development activities listed in the end of chapters in Move to Greatness, or in the Development Recommendations of a FEBI report – but I suggest not starting with them, but rather starting with where our client starts, listening for how we can build on strengths and current passions, and making connections to what we hear will resonate for him or her.

 

Not yet FEBI Certified?  Learn more about becoming a FEBI Certified Coach and join the next Certification beginning February 27th, 2012.

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Topics: FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, Coaching Tool, FEBI Certified Coach, leadership, leadership development, change management, leadership coaching, whole leadership development, embodied learning

Welcome to the FEBI Learning Lounge

The official FEBI blog

The FEBI Learning Lounge is the official blog of FEBI Assessment.  In this blog we discuss all things related to the energy patterns of FEBI, digging more into each of the patterns of personality and discussing various applications that can benefit from a pattern perspective.

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