Ginny Whitelaw

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Chop, Chop, On Time

Posted by Ginny Whitelaw

Dec 31, 2014 11:39:00 AM

Guest blogger, Theo Cade, shares his experience of working with Driver energy.  Driver is not always the pattern we think of for interpersonal harmony, but in this case, it's just the ticket.

Taking the mini FEBI on page 111, I found my least developed energy is Driver.  Driver is my wife's strength. This has helped "Strengthen My Play" in our marriage.  

Jude loves to be on time for appointments and meetings. I am more relaxed about this, which can be a stress point for us.  One day I was particularly slow in getting ready for an appointment we both had together. This did not endear me to this woman I adore, appreciate, and love to treat well. She was not the happiest of campers.

The next morning we had another appointment at the same time. After studying the energy of the Driver, I delivered my first words early in the day in Driver style. My right hand made chopping gestures into my left palm, a clear Driver energy. I noted to her the three concrete steps I had laid out to do to be ready to go on time, chop, chop, chop.

It worked. All three tasks done in readiness on time. Even had time to handle an unexpected broken water pipe.  As Jude moved into the passenger seat next to me, ready on time, found myself glowing sitting beside my happy wife.

blog excerpt from Theo Cade, Ph.D.  (for full post, see The Zen Leader blog)


What are you seeking at work?

Posted by Ginny Whitelaw

Sep 19, 2014 3:28:46 PM

patternsHorizontal    FEBI-certified coach, AnnRene shares this blog post from Seth Godin; without naming them he could as easily be talking  about the FEBI patterns:

Some people want safety and respect. They want to know what the work rules are, they want a guarantee that the effort required is both predictable and rewarded. They seek an environment where they won't feel pushed around, surprised or taken advantage of.

Other people want challenge and autonomy. They want the opportunity to grow and to delight or inspire the people around them. They seek both organizational and personal challenges, and they like to solve interesting problems.

Without a doubt, there's an overlap here, but if you find that your approach to the people around you isn't resonating, it might because you're giving your people precisely what they don't want.


What Does FEBI Have In Common With Feldenkrais?

Posted by Ginny Whitelaw

Feb 12, 2014 3:15:00 PM

Moshe_FeldenkraisQ: One of my clients asked how does the FEBI relate to Feldenkrais? (founder, Moshe Feldenrkais, pictured at left.)

A: Both FEBI and Feldenkrais connect body and mind, so in that sense they are similar, and I can see why your client would ask this question. Both attend deeply to how the body is functioning.  The FEBI is measuring large-scale patterns functioning throughout the nervous system. Indeed, the theory is that when one part of the body-mind goes into a pattern, the rest tends to follow.  That's why changing how we move changes how we think.
I would refine the theory to add that our ENTIRE mind-body doesn't necessarily get there.  We still carry residual tension and our home pattern is still functioning in the background (i.e., when we try to relax, our entire body doesn't relax all at once).  Where Feldenkrais focuses is on this very point: we tend to habitually tense and link muscle movements together that aren't needed for the most efficient movement.  For example, raising our eyebrows when we open our mouth to take a spoonful of soup. Or raising our shoulders when we lift a book. Even when we try to relax our movement, some parts don't relax.  We have to consciously go into a movement, tease apart what's essential from what's unnecessary and re-learn the most efficient movement.  That's what Feldenkrais techniques teach one to do. Paired with an understanding of the patterns and FEBI, people who practice Feldenkrais will get a better sense of where they habitually hold tension, and which pattern centers are activated and essential for which physical movements.

How to Bring Out the Driver in Yoga – and anything else, for that matter

Posted by Ginny Whitelaw

Feb 6, 2014 1:56:00 PM



This question of how to bring more Driver energy into yoga came up at our last FEBI certification session, and I thought it worthy of a fuller answer. So many of us in coaching and leadership development find Driver is one of our least favorite patterns. And yet we need it for so many things from empathizing with Driver clients to protecting what’s vital in our work and business.  (See also In Defense of Driver). 

So in the spirit of using our strong pattern(s) to access a weaker one, how can we use an Organizer-Visionary practice like yoga to bring out more Driver?  The Driver center is the key: that place in the lower abdomen that fires when we start pushing. To find it even now, clasp your hands and push your palms together hard. Notice something in the base of the abdomen starts firing.  Quit pushing and feel it go away. Start pushing and feel it kick in again. Do this until you have a good feel for where that Driver center is in you, and then send your next exhale deeply into this center, as if it could penetrate like an arrow. 

This practice is similar to what we do in Zen training and martial arts to develop the area the Japanese call “hara” – the center of physical power – which includes both the Collaborator center (near the belly button) and the Driver center (at its base).  Those of you who follow the work of Mandy Blake (Your Body is Your Brain) or Grant Soosalu and Martin Oka (m-Braining), will recognize there is also a sophisticated “brain” in this region of the body – 500 million neurons strong! Developing this region and engaging its intuitive mobilizing ability is of enormous importance.

So how to do this into yoga postures?  A number of postures naturally emphasize this core, like the half-bridge, where we lie on our back, knees bent, feet on the ground, and slightly lift the hips.  You can make this even more of a Driver exercise if you extend through the balls of your feet/big toes into the earth, and breathe deeply into the Driver center.  Other postures, like downward dog, you can make more of a Driver posture by, again, extending/pressing the balls of your feet/big toes into the earth and breathing deeply into the Driver center.  It’s easy to find the Driver center in this posture because it’s at the crease between the top and bottom halves of your body.   

You can generalize this advice to many other activities.  They take on more of the Driver’s edge and clarity when you press the balls of your feet/big toes into the earth as you do them.  For example, when you’re cooking, standing at the counter using a cutting board, you can bring your weight to the balls of your feet/big toes, extend, and – there it is – the Driver center adding sharpness to your cuts.  Or when you’re sitting in a meeting or at your desk, you can bring weight into the balls of your feet, press and – there it is – the Driver center helping you lean in.  In our line of Zen training, we use this principle in every exhale to engage the Driver as our “temple guardian” to keep the mind clear. 

Finally, don’t forget your strengths - the Visionary’s relaxed bigness, the Organizer’s calm, the Collaborator’s rhythm – so that you can learn to bring on the Driver without getting tense and tight.


4 Leaders, 4 Relationships to Time, and Why It Matters

Posted by Ginny Whitelaw

Aug 25, 2013 10:54:00 AM


I’m inspired by a great article Rhonda Morton shared a few days ago by Marla Popova on our psychological relationship to time and how time seems to expand or contract under different conditions. (Why Time Slows Down When We’re Afraid, Speeds Up as We Age, and Gets Warped on Vacation). What I would add is that it’s not just novel conditions that affect our relationship to time, but also our entire personality. I was surprised as a physics student some years ago to learn that there has never been a physics experiment that shows the flow of time. Time is now, now, now. A time line or the flow of time is something we collectively “invent” to be able to talk about memories, history, and the ceaseless change of the universe and everything in it. In order to talk about things changing at different rates (e.g., light moves faster than sound, and much faster than a turtle) we need a common denominator and that denominator we call “time.”

Recognizing that the flow of time is a psychological phenomenon – in here– rather than a law of physics – out there – gives us more power to choose the kind of relationship we want to have. So many leaders I work with are people in a hurry. They’re often feeling so far behind, racing to catch up, or don’t have time for this or that important thing. And to be honest, I lived that way for a long time myself, and can still fall into the trap of “so much to do, how will it all fit?” But the price paid for this kind of thinking is enormous: it can spin us into a frazzle, dull our creativity, and desensitize us to what’s really going on as we race to accomplish the preset agenda in our head. While people often get to positions of leadership because they’re great at getting stuff done, they can’t sustain their success if they’re frazzled, uncreative, or insensitive.

So one’s relationship to time is well worth examining, and potentially updating. And the 4 primary factors of personality measured by FEBI are a good way to do both. Let’s look at 4 leaders – caricatures of each pattern – and their relationships to time, and you can see which feel most familiar to you.

First there’s the Driver Leader – always in a hurry. His primary relationship to time is to beat it. If the normal drive to work takes 20 minutes, he’ll try to find a shortcut to shave off a few minutes. He may feel like he’s in a competition to beat the clock. He acts with haste, treating time like money – never having enough of either. 

The Organizer Leader likes to live on time. Her primary relationship to time is to manage it or save it. Conscientious about her commitments, she does not want to miss deadlines. Neither does she want to make mistakes or deliver low quality work, so she plans her work, works her plan, and can get upset when reality collides with her agenda.

The Collaborator leader likes to live in time. She tends to be overly optimistic about how long things will take, and may take on more commitments than she can handle. But surely you’ll understand. For her, time is to be spent lavishly – on people, projects, passions, parties, and more!

The Visionary leader has an expansive sense of time. He may drift in and out of even being aware of time. His relationship to time is more to be it, rather than do things in it. He will tend to think further out in time, further back in time, and see patterns or trends across time – using time as something of a canvas for painting his ideas and strategies.


Now if you know anything about the 4 patterns of personality, you know that we all have all 4, and we also have preferences. Hopefully you can recognize in your own attitudes about time the 1-2 patterns that dominate for you. And if you take the FEBI, you’ll probably see they connect to your Home pattern or primary style. While we may be tempted to think one pattern has a better relationship to time than the others, seeing all 4 options, perhaps you can appreciate that there is a time for all 4, and being stuck in any one or two of them will cause problems. The time problem we see most often among high-achieving leaders is the perpetual rush-and-cram prison I was describing earlier, resulting from too much Driver and Organizer. On the other hand, those who drift through time “being” and not “doing” may not accomplish enough to ever become leaders. But if you take all 4 relationships to time as having their place, like inhale and exhale, or the pumping of your heart, and find a rhythm among them, time will neither get away from you nor be a prison. By accessing each of the 4 patterns, you can access each of the 4 relationships to time. You don’t have to use each one equally – you’ll still have your personal favorites. But you won’t get stuck there. You will make friends with time.

And if you keep going down this integrative path, you’ll make such close friends with time that you and time are one. As the great Zen Master, Dogen observed, “Time is just existence and all existence is time.[1]” You are time; you are Now – which is true even before you realize it. But realizing it, flips everything around in how leaders think and act. Rather than feeling like a relatively fixed actor on a timeline – trying to beat the clock or manage our way to important goals – we can flip that around and look at how we need to transform ourselves in the Now in order to “match” what we would be doing, saying, thinking, etc. once our goal is realized. As we manifest those changes, we bring that goal into Now – right where we stand. If you’d like to play with this idea further, you can download this Timeline Exercise from The Zen Leader. It’s a bit mind bending at first, but worth the effort. For not only does your relationship to time matter in how you lead, but since it’s always Now and you are Now, you could say your relationship to Now is all that matters.

[1] Dogen, Shobogenzo, Vol I, Uji (ch 11), translated by G. W. Nishijimi and C. Cross, BDK English Triptaka Series, 2007.


Topics: Dr. Whitelaw

In Defense of Driver - Even for Servant Leaders

Posted by Ginny Whitelaw

Mar 21, 2013 9:02:00 AM

describe the image“I used to have a lot of Driver, but I don’t need it much anymore.” I’ve heard countless people comment as we reviewed their FEBI reports, especially those with low Driver scores, including many successful leaders and colleagues in leadership development. They’re not surprised by the low Driver score; they know it’s the pattern of pushing, competing – “the accelerator pedal of business” – we sometimes call it. And for people who recall earlier days of arrogant certainty and ambitious striving, it can feel like a pattern outgrown. Indeed, there’s a lot not to like in the Driver pattern. In our latest research comparing the FEBI against the NEO – more on that in other posts – Driver correlated as expected, showing up as the most disagreeable pattern. Among its significant correlations we find action-orientation – just do it! – but not trusting, not altruistic, not compliant, and prone to anger. No wonder so many people willingly relegate this pattern to their past.

But the last group who came through our core program at the Institute for Zen Leadership showed me anew what Driver energy is good for, even among mature, servant leaders, and certainly among people who would train in Zen. In The Zen Leader program (as in the book), we move people through each of the 4 FEBI energy patterns and let them experience the corresponding emotions, mindset and behaviors. As we were debriefing the Driver pattern, we talked about its role at different stages in life, from defining our boundaries during our terrible two’s, to teenage rebellion, to the warrior, the disruptor, and ultimately the guardian. I likened this more mature role to something of a temple guardian that, at a metaphorical level, keeps out evil spirits. In dealing with dozens of things to do and endless distractions, the Driver serves as our own guardian - helping us focus on what is most essential. As we put our ideas or work out into the world, the Driver protects them/us from being stopped by barriers or dismissed as lightweight. Even in Zen meditation, we subtly engage the Driver pattern during every exhale, as something of our inner temple guardian to keep the mind clear.

This remarkable group took it further. The jiki – that is, the person who leads the meditation sessions – is also a Driver guardian, they noted, that pushes us to get serious, be here now, and put everything into our sitting. “There’s yet another role the temple guardian plays,” offered one of the participants, already a seasoned Zen practitioner. “Because it’s counter-productive, even dangerous to open stuff in ourselves until we’re ready to deal with it.” I’ve come to trust that the mind-body doesn’t open something up until it's ready to deal with it. But the truth of his point hit home as my mind flashed to people who took mind-expanding, acid trips in the 60’s and were rarely able to integrate the experience and, at worst, were jumping off buildings thinking they could fly. “The fierceness of the guardian is supposed to give us pause at the gates of the temple,” he continued, “and we only enter if we’re ready to face whatever the training will put us through or pull out of us.” The fierceness is meant to either raise our own fierce determination or make us stay the hell out. For fierceness will be called for. As a Zen Master of old put it, “If you’re going to do battle with yourself, better go in armed to the teeth.”

So thank you, oh disagreeable Driver, for helping us be warriors when we need to be, great protectors of our work, our teams, families, companies and countries when we need to be, and great destroyers of delusion! -GW

For more ways to engage the Driver in you, download this Driver Pattern Energizer from the bestselling book Move to Greatness. 

Download Driver Energizer


Topics: zen leader, FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, energy patterns, Driver, Institute for zen leadership, zen leadership

Why Driver Matters and, for that Matter, Why FEBI Matters

Posted by Ginny Whitelaw

Feb 10, 2012 10:06:00 AM

The patterns are always teaching me something.  I just had a FEBI debrief session yesterday with a terrific physical therapist.  Her specialty is working with pelvic floor dysfunction (related to incontinence, chronic pelvic and abdominal pain etc.).  I was telling her about this base-of-the-abdomen area also being the Driver center – which you can feel anytime you start pushing.  She mentioned that studies show that these base muscles are triggered before one initiates any sort of movement – from taking a step to opening a door knob – to stabilize the body.  Often when people are weak in this area, she notices they’re not assertive, don’t get to the point, and other signs of low Driver.  She’s doing some great work helping people regain health in this area, and now she knows even more about the energy her work enables.

Suzanne, one of our FEBI Certified Coaches, wrote to me today saying how much the FEBI was helping her in her leadership coaching, and how she was spreading word of it all over.  I wish there were a million Suzannes, because then millions more people would find FEBI, and millions more people would find that it has a way of expanding one’s capacity like no other tool I’ve come across.  Most of you who come here are already FEBI certified, but with our winter certification starting soon (Feb 27), this would be a great time to spread the word all over.  And if you’ve been thinking about FEBI, and thinking you’ll get to certification eventually, dive in now, and maybe what you learn will make you better equipped to handle all your other demands.  And if you don’t even know what FEBI stands for, but could use a great coaching tool or leadership consulting tool, talk to us (anthony@focusleadership.com). 



Topics: FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, Coaching Tool, FEBI Certified Coach, leadership coaching, energy patterns

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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