Tag Archives: Emotional Intelligence

Scientific Study Demonstrates the Efficacy of Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning

leadership-round-pen-2-lo-res.jpgThose of us employing a relationship-based approach to Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning (EFEL) in the personal and professional development business know how powerful the approach can be for our participants.  The success we’ve witnessed traveling the country these past four years conducting workshops, from Hawaii to Montana to Florida, has been remarkable.  We’ve seen rapid, developmental progress made in combat veterans, women leaving county jail, VA counselors, juveniles in detention, at-risk children, clinicians and business professionals.  The approach delivers a powerful shift in one’s perspective of self, others and how the interplay between human beings (and horses, too) has a biochemical, neurological and psychological affect that subtly defines the nature of our relationships.  Whether we’re leading a team of professionals, selling to prospects, or simply interacting with our friends and families.  We know this works because we’ve seen it working.

Now there’s a solid, scientific research study that confirms what we know anecdotally.  Researchers Patricia Pendry and Stephanie Roeter of Washington State University published the study, “Experimental Trial Demonstrates Positive Effects of Equine Facilitated Learning on Child Social Competence, in a 2012 edition of the professional journal, Human-Animal Interactions.  Conducted as an eleven week after-school program, the study demonstrated improvements in the youth’s’ self-confidence, self-esteem, school bonding, positive social behaviors, school grades and achievement test scores.  To quote Pendry and Roeter, “Results echo findings from prior correlational, anecdotal, and case study evidence, which suggest significant positive associations between participation in equine facilitated programs and various aspects of adjustment and wellbeing.  Faced with skepticism about the efficacy of equine facilitated programs by potential funders and third party payers, therapeutic professionals and clients can now point to causal evidence.  This may not only increase the public’s confidence in equine programs’ ability to positively affect child development, but also translate into increased structural support to increase accessibility to such programs.”1

At first glance, working with horses to develop mindful leaders, cohesive teams and highly efficient sales professionals may look a bit woo-woo.  It isn’t.  We’ve canvased over 200 peer-reviewed research studies in everything from affective neuroscience, biochemistry, applied behavioral economics, performance psychology, adult learning styles and even quantum physics to correlate and explain what is actually happening in our workshops.  Our approach incorporates this research to introduce and frame the lessons the participants are about to experience, in specifically designed horse/human relationship-based exercises, firsthand for themselves.  As we introduce business metaphors throughout the exercises, we see eyes widen as that ah-ha moment emerges when a lesson is embraced through self-reflection and self-discovery.  These kinesthetic lessons are not easily forgotten.

The research pipeline for EFEL is beginning to fill and in the coming years I’m confident we’ll see even more validated results to the approach.  Validation of what we’ve learned experientially by conducting workshops these past four years.  If you are interested in learning more about our approach, we invite you to visit our website!

1.) Patricia Pendry, Stephanie Roeter, “Experimental Trial Demonstrates Positive Effects of Equine Facilitated Learning on Child Social Competence”, Human-Animal Interaction, 2012, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1-19.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

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Filed under Diversity & Inclusion, Experiential Learning, Health Care, Leadership Development, Sales Training, Team Building

An Example of Collaborative Leadership Delivering Innovation in Education

Our firm had the privilege last week to be a part of something truly important and remarkably innovative.  We were a part of the first Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning program in the nation to be adopted into the core curriculum of a charter school for at-risk girls.  This was the result of a collaborative effort of a unique consortium of entities.  The pilot program could not have come together without three organizations and their leadership pulling together to spark this vision into reality.

The leadership team from the Just For Girls Academy in Bradenton, Florida displayed courage and an innovative spirit in sharing this vision with us earlier in the year.  Becky Canesse, the CEO of Just For Girls, and Dr. Jennifer Rosenboom, the school’s principal, took the first steps to usher this progressive idea into reality.  Leadership of a charter school seeking fresh, meaningful approaches for educating, in their words, the whole girl.  None of this could have happened without another noteworthy community leader coming in to the consortium; Gail Clifton, the volunteer Executive Director of SMART (the Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy, also in Bradenton), a 501(c)(3) that has been supporting the needs of children in the community for over 25 years.  Gail graciously provided the facilities, the exceptional horses, curriculum support and a team of heart-centered volunteers to make this all happen.  Yet another leader from our organization, Sarah Murray, Director of Business Development, worked with Gail and Dr. Rosenboom to co-create and align the curriculum and finalize the schedules for the series of workshops.

I find this breathtaking.  A public/private collaboration that drew upon the talents and resources of a charter school, a private charitable corporation and a for-profit company coming together to benefit the lives and futures of nearly 90 young girls in our community.  A collaborative effort that introduced a truly innovative approach to educating our children.  An approach that is focused on experientially imparting the emotional intelligence skills, sense of self, healthy boundaries, and empathy for one another that are so critical to success and wellbeing in the growing complexity of our contemporary times.  Success based upon intrinsic values, not the extrinsic values these young people are bombarded with by the mindless media that simply wants to drive consumerism and amplify divisiveness.  Intrinsic values that transcend the superficial differences of our multi-cultural, global community.  Values that celebrate and take joy in personal development, authentic relationships and being of service to others.

The courage and leadership these second graders displayed was humbling.  I personally watched these wondrous children face their fears and muster the courage, with only the adults holding the space for them and providing a safe environment, to face their fears and walk right through them.  I watched as these polite, charming young ladies held each others’ hands as they did so, providing peer support to one another with love and respect.  I watched as they engaged in their emotions with remarkable self-awareness, allowing themselves to feel the full spectrum of their emotional landscape that ran the range from anxiousness to joyousness.

This is what can be accomplished when diverse groups of leaders collaborate to deliver positive change.  This lesson transcends organizations and organizational objectives, as it is a lesson in the capabilities of the human spirit.

I encourage you all to visit the websites of these two organizations and open your hearts at this time of year with your generous support.

© 2012, Terry Murray.

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Performance Transformation, LLC™ and The EquuSatori Center Announce New Partnership for Bay Area

For Immediate Release.

New Partnership Introduces Leadership Development and Knowledge Worker Team Building Programs to the San Francisco Bay Area. Their Innovative Approach Employs Relationship-Based, Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning to Drive Performance.

Oct 15, 2012 –
The EquuSatori Center (Sebastopol, CA) and Performance Transformation, LLC™ (Venice, FL) announced the formation of a new partnership today to introduce their highly innovative professional development workshops to the San Francisco Bay Area.  Their experiential learning workshops are the first to integrate relationship-based, Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning with peer-reviewed, scientific research designed to cultivate associate engagement, creative thinking, and adaptive behaviors in the workplace.

“In today’s Idea Economy, human beings and their creativity are the raw material for value creation in business,” commented Terry Murray, the author of the critically acclaimed,“The Transformational Entrepreneur ~ Engaging The Mind, Heart & Spirit For Breakthrough Business Success” and Managing Partner of Performance Transformation.  “Companies seeking a sustainable pipeline of innovation must take an equally innovative approach to optimizing and aligning leadership, strategy and organizational culture.”

Mr. Murray has more than 25 years of leadership experience in both corporate and investor-driven startup Life Science companies.  “We’ve raised the bar in the field of corporate, developmental workshops to meet the needs of businesses in the 21st Century.  The change is long overdue.  The proof is in the tangible results we track and measure for our clients.”

“Now more than ever before in modern history, we’re realizing we do not live and work autonomously,”added Lisa Walters, Founder of EquuSatori and a pioneer in the field of Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning.  “We can no longer afford to think and act as if we do.  Even modern science is showing us that we are all intricately connected.”

The partnership will introduce professional development workshops in Transformational Leadership, Adaptive Team Building, Diversity and Inclusion and Igniting Creativity in Business to the San Francisco Bay Area.  The workshops integrate findings from more than 200 peer-reviewed, published research studies from the neurosciences, Emotional Intelligence, Performance Psychology, Core Mammalian Emotional Systems, Applied Behavioral Economics, Adult Learning Styles and Quantum Physics with a highly mindful, relationship-based approach to experiential learning with horses.

“Highly innovative companies, especially high technology and biotechnology companies, display a remarkable granularity of knowledge in their specific fields,” said Terry.  “In today’s fast paced, multi-cultural and multi-generational workplace we need to apply that same degree of granularity of knowledge to the human condition; of what connects, engages and motivates highly talented human beings to attain and sustain peak performance.”

As prey animals, horses are highly sensitive to their environment and have the innate ability to sense intention.  Predators mask their intention when stalking horses in the wild, moving with stealth in the high grass, upwind from their prey.  Human beings have a similar ability, yet we have lost much of our sensitivity and awareness due to the noisy world in which we live.  Horses naturally mirror human emotions.  The way we connect, engage and motivate a horse to co-create a goal reflects the same way we do so with coworkers, subordinates and customers.

Herds of horses in the wild have also evolved to be highly functional teams.  The leader in a predatory pack is the one who dominates; whereas the leader in a herd of horses is the one who watches, is watched and of service to the herd.

“Horses are masters in the wisdom of we,” stated Lisa.  “The gift they offer is the opportunity to awaken our senses and hone our self and social awareness, providing a unique and powerful personal, experiential learning opportunity around the dynamics of relationship.”

The EquuSatori Center is nestled amongst the hills and boutique vineyards surrounding the charming village of Sebastopol, CA.  The center features remarkable horses, a covered arena, classroom and gardens of lavender, flowers, berries and fruit trees.  The center is conveniently located minutes from the Santa Rosa airport and less than an hour and a half drive from San Francisco.

“It is an ideal destination learning environment,” said Lisa.

Terry went on to add, “Learning in such a beautiful and natural setting helps our clients quiet their minds and re-engage in their authentic self; sparking the source of creative insights, adaptability and engagement companies require for maintaining their competitive advantage.”

The experiential learning programs are customizable to the specific needs of the client and are anchored in measurable business objectives.  They include baseline assessments, post-training assessments and can be combined with Performance Transformation’s breakthrough Accretive Coaching Process℠, a dynamic approach to professional development that incorporates a strong educational component and grounded in more than two decades of real-world, leadership success.

To learn more about the 2013 workshop portfolio, please visit http://performtransform.com,
http://terrymurrayblog.com, or contact Performance Transformation directly at (941) 485-7428.  To explore The EquuSatori Center please visit http://equusatori.com/wordpress1/.

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Authors Dr. Ravi Rao and Terry Murray Discuss the Connections Between Neurobiology, Horses and Business Performance on Patricia Raskin’s Positive Business® Show

Last Friday I had the privilege of joining Dr. Ravi Rao, MariAnn Snow and Patricia Raskin on the Positive Business Show.  Dr. Rao, the author of  “Emotional Business – Inspiring Human Connectedness to Grow Earnings and the Economy” Dr. Rao is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and received his neurosurgery training at Harvard Medical School, brought his brilliant perspective to the conversation.

You’re welcome to listen to the podcast below!

© 2012, Terry Murray.

© 2012, Patricia Raskin.


Filed under Health Care, Leadership Development, Organizational Culture, Team Building

Terry Murray to be Recurring, Regular Guest on Patricia Raskin’s Positive Business® Show

I’m very excited to announce that I will be an ongoing, regular guest on Patricia Raskin’s Positive Business Show, starting this Friday.  On tomorrow’s program, we will be discussing how companies can leverage intrinsic goals and values in balance with traditional, extrinsic goals and values to engage and inspire today’s modern workforce.  The program will air live this Friday at 4:30 p.m., E.D.T., on both syndicated terrestrial radio stations and streaming via the internet (please click on Patricia Raskin’s Positive Business Show for more information).  You’re also invited to join in the conversation by calling (888) 345-0790!

Historically, companies have focused almost exclusively on leveraging extrinsic goals and values.  Things like money, image, and status are used to motivate employees.  Research demonstrates that people that are consumed with the pursuit of extrinsic goals are less happy and as a result, less healthy, creative and adaptive in their work and lives.  This is a major contributor to today’s endemic employee disengagement crisis.  Three independent research studies indicate approximately 70% of employees are cognitively and emotionally disengaged with their employer.

Extrinsic values reflect powerful aspects of culture.  What one culture values above all else, another may simply dismiss.  The same is true from generation to generation, even within a single culture.  Workers from Gen X and Gen Y are seeking an entirely different experience from their careers compared to members of the Baby Boomer generation.  Trying to leverage the homogenous, extrinsic, shared goals of a past generation ring hollow in today’s multi-cultural, multi-generational workforce.

The beautiful thing about moving toward intrinsic goals and values is they are universal to the human experience.  Intrinsic goals include personal and professional growth, authentic relationships, and a desire to be of service to others.  Research demonstrates people that pursue intrinsic goals are measurably happier than those chasing extrinsic goals.  Why does happiness matter in the workplace?  Well, it is not so much about people being happy at work as it is people being happy with their work.  That’s the key to engagement, the fundamental prerequisite for creative thinking, innovation, and adaptability; the mission critical drivers of value creation in today’s Idea Economy.

I hope you have a chance to join us tomorrow!  It should be a fun and lively conversation.

© 2012, Terry Murray.

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Seven Questions to Ask When Considering an Equine Facilitated Leadership or Team Building Program

As we settle into the budget and planning season, many organizations are considering training options for the coming year.  As Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning (EFEL) programs continue to gain in popularity, the nuances and differences that exist between various approaches should be taken into consideration.  The importance of approach and philosophy cannot be overstated as it speaks directly to the efficaciousness of the program.  As these workshops and programs are new to many people, I thought I would share seven questions everyone contemplating an EFEL program should ask to ensure they achieve their training objectives.

1.) Is the approach behavioral-based or relationship-based?  The importance of this difference cannot be overstated.  Behaviorally based approaches objectify the horse, relegating the horse to being nothing more than an apparatus.  The exercises are often oblique, based simply on placing the participants in an unfamiliar circumstance, without any framework or clear learning objectives.  Many of these types of programs evolved out of therapeutic applications for people with emotional challenges and have little to do with professional development.  The exercises are often domineering and abusive to the highly sensitive horses, driving them into fear response.  This unfortunately reinforces dominant behaviors from the workplace that erode team work and employee engagement and work at cross-purpose with professional growth and development.

Relationship-based approaches are significantly more mindful.  Programs that follow this philosophy focus on the learning opportunities the horse/human relationship delivers.  As horses mirror human emotions, it enables the participant to experience for themselves how they connect, engage and motivate the horse, without dominating or coercive behavior.  This is a direct metaphor for how people connect, engage and motivate their co-workers, subordinates and prospects.  By allow the participant to experience this first-hand, it creates a memorable learning experience they will never forget.  Relationship-based exercises are structured, with clear objectives that are aligned with business and developmental goals clearly in mind.  These programs are also significantly more mindful in their philosophy of partnering with the horse, ensuring proper emotional, psychological and physical care is followed at all times.

2.) How comprehensive was the facilitators training?  Like any growing industry, training and certification programs flock to any opportunity to capture a quick buck.  Unfortunately, in the case of working with horses for professional development, this can be disastrous.  It is very common for behavioral-based approaches to require a paltry level of training.   For example, programs such as EAGALA require a three day workshop to be level one certified.  In comparison, I studied a relationship-based approach that required more than twelve weeks of study onsite, with additional off site study spread over the course of an entire year.  The educational difference between a dozen contact hours under study with the horses and more than three hundred contact hours with the horses speaks for itself.

3.) Is the approach framed in scientific research that cultivates emotional intelligence competencies?  Programs that lack any reference to research from the neurosciences, performance psychology, Core Mammalian Emotional Systems, Applied Behavioral Economics, Kolb’s Adult Learning Style Inventory or quantum physics can border on pop psychology and ungrounded, unsubstantiated opinions.  In effect, programs that lack solid scientific evidence justifying the approach are no more efficacious than the tired ropes courses, paintball outings or competitions to build paper boats in a resort swimming pool.  Programs that are founded and aligned in peer-review research are significantly more accessible for the participants.  It draws a direct correlation between cognitive learning and deeper, emotive learning…delivering lessons that last a lifetime.

4.) What is the professional background of the facilitator?  Again, like any growing industry, people will flock to an opportunity to make a dollar, whether they are qualified or not.  This is why we see so many certification programs that, to the letter of the law, are not truly certification programs.  Ask about the professional background of the facilitator.  I cannot tell you how many people I’ve seen in this industry speed through a quick and dirty certification program to conduct leadership development programs without ever having held a leadership position in their lives.  Leaders bear the battle scars of leadership and have their own experiential learning under their belts from real-world engagements.  Ask about the depth and breadth of the facilitator’s actual leadership experience in business settings.  Were they a sales manager responsible for eight people for two or three years or do they have more than a decades of multi-cultural, multi-generational experience leading hundreds of associates?  Have they ever bore the mantle of leadership at all?

5.) What is the facilitator’s horse training philosophy? This is as critical as the difference between behavioral-based and relationship-based approaches.  Keep an eye out for facilitators that claim Natural Horsemanship expertise.  The leading example of this is an approach called Pirelli.  So called, Natural Horsemanship philosophies reflect the same approach as transactional leadership from the Industrial Age.  They attempt to coerce the horse with pressure, adding incremental discomfort to the horse until the horse does what they want.  They then reward the horse by releasing the pressure.  Punishment and reward are classic, behaviorally-based approaches to dominating people, or horses for that matter, to get what the transactional leader wants.  It is the proven cause of the employee disengagement crisis we are experiencing today.

More mindful, relationship-based approaches to horsemanship focus on communicating with the horse in a manner they can comprehend and invites the horse into relationship.  Approaches like Carolyn Resnick’s Water Hole Rituals™, Barbara Rector’s Adventures in Awareness™, Lisa Walter’s work at EquuSatori™, and an approach called Transformational Horsemanship™ all reflect this philosophy.  It models transformational leadership, of leading from a place of service to the horse that is attuned with actual herd dynamics and horse leadership in the wild.  Keep in mind, in packs of predators the leader is the one who dominates. In herds of horses the leader is the one who watches out for the safety and well-being of the herd and is watched by the herd.  The diametrically different approaches resonate through the EFEL workshop and will deliver very different results.

6.) Does the program have additional, educationally-based coaching and support tools to engrain the work over time?  Change is process driven, not event driven.  A mindful EFEL workshop will impart a powerful shift in perspective, opening up the participants to seeing their world from a different orientation.  This is critical in cultivating adaptability and creative problem solving in today’s rapidly changing world.  But tools must also be provided that can be easily accessed and used in the workplace to support the shift in perspective.  Educationally-based coaching should also be available to further support professional growth the ensure lasting results.

7.) Is the program aligned with tangible business objectives that can be measured for return on investment?  This is exceptionally rare.  In fact, our firm is the only professional development company with EFEL programs that I know of that does this in every engagement.  Why is it so rare?  This lack of accountability grew out of the old team building and leadership events of the past.  Why didn’t ropes courses attempt to introduce metrics?  Probably because they delivered little, if any, tangible business value than a company picnic.  Don’t get me wrong, company outings can strengthen relationships, but they’re not developmental events.  Ask if the program conducts any baseline assessments, both with the participants and of the current state of the business.  Is there an exploration of immediate business objectives?  Is a gap analysis provided?  Is this documented?  Finally, does the firm establish performance metrics for both the individual participants and for the business?  Are follow-up assessments conducted?  Without these critical measurements in place it is very difficult to measure the outcomes and value you’re receiving from your investment.

Equine Facilitate Experiential Learning can be a powerful, innovative and enjoyable tool for professional development.  Like anything, the quality comes down to the details.

© 2012, Terry Murray.


Filed under Experiential Learning, Leadership Development, Sales Training, Team Building

The Worst Leader in America

hubris [hyoo-bris], noun. excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance.

Those of you that are kind enough to spend a few minutes of your day reading my blog know I’ve been writing about the leadership crisis that is eroding Corporate America and our country’s competitive advantage.  This is not simply my opinion; my stance and perspective is supported by numerous research studies, surveys and white papers published by distinctive institutions and prestigious global consultancies.  Not one or two studies, mind you, but more than a dozen point to the causality of the endemic employee disengagement crisis in our nation.  McKinsey & Co. reports that 90% of “C” level and one step down executives score below average in eight key leadership competencies.  A pitiful 1% actually score excellent in core leadership competencies.   Multiple studies have pointed out the fact that 70% of employees are not engaged cognitively or emotionally with their companies.  One doesn’t need a Ph.D. in Organizational Development to draw the correlation.

Oddly enough, these same leaders that demand more and more from their employees, while offering less and less in return, seem to walk on the proverbial compensation water.  Even when they fail miserably in the execution of their sacred trust to their customers, investors, associates, communities and stakeholders, their compensation committees pay them a king’s ransom to go away.

Roger Goodell, and the arrogance of the billionaire owners of the NFL that he represents, is a microcosm of the leadership disease that is eating away at the soul of America.  Embroiled in a petty labor dispute, a multi-billion dollar a year business is nickel and diming its professional officials, locking them out in a pure power play that the billionaire owners have become so accustomed to playing.  It’s the same behavior that built their fortunes and brought them entry into this obnoxious, exclusive boys’ club  known as the National Football League.

During ESPN’s post-game coverage of the debacle the NFL sold to America on Monday night, the honorable, Superbowl champion, and retired quarterback, Trent Dilfer commented, “You get so frustrated with incompetence that it turns to anger…I’m angry because the NFL has insulted my intelligence; it has insulted your intelligence…we have a multi-billion dollar machine and we’re letting this ruin it.  Its tearing the fabric of the game.”

Mr. Dilfer went on to say, “For ten years, this commissioner’s office has been coming into these NFL locker rooms saying ‘We’ll do anything to protect this shield. Anything to protect this brand.’  It is ironic that you, the NFL, is what’s screwing this brand up.”

ESPN analyst Rick Riley added, “You can’t take a $1,000 pair of Italian loafers and step in poop, over and over again, and that’s what we’re doing here.  This league was a Mona Lisa and Goodell is painting a mustache on it.”

Mr. Goodell has a five year, $100,000,000 contract.  Yeah, $20 million a year.  That’s a lot of zeros, isn’t it?  Especially for someone that is destroying the integrity of an entire league.  Someone that has locked out their officials and brought in Division Three officials from college football to officiate the games.  For those of you that are not familiar with the tiers of college football, Division Three is actually four tiers down from the games most of us see on television on Saturday afternoons.  High Schools in Florida play a faster, more competitive game than Division Three colleges.  It’s not the officials’ fault.  Their lack the training and experience which is necessary to competently officiate this level of competition simply isn’t there.  The echoes of corporate leaders, complaining that they can’t find qualified employees, while at the same time slashing training budgets, rings in my head when I contemplate this situation.

Don’t blame the officials.  Don’t blame corporate employees for our failing  competitive stance.  The incompetence lies in leaderships’ hands; fore they are the ones that are failing the American Dream.  And laughing all the way to their bank in the Caymen Islands.

© Terry Murray, 2012.


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