8 Comments

  1. LindaKohanov on November 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    This is a fascinating discussion. The farming element reminds me of a conversation I had some years ago with one of our Eponaquest instructors in England, Sun Tui. She has been living on what I believe they call a “bio-dynamic farm.” There the animals are necessary to the optimal farming of the vegetables, and the entire community is involved somehow in this kind of farming, which sounds like an example of consensual leadership if I remember correctly. I will see if Sun Tui can tell us a bit more about this when she has the time to write us.



  2. Ian Rowcliffe on November 4, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Re:your veggie garden, Susan – congratulations: you are into ‘companion’ gardening – here we have the traditional three sisters, corn, beans and squash. You must have really worked on the mulch to have withstood the drought. Nevertheless, as you probably know, the first year is usually easier as ‘Nature likes to shake things up’ and almost demands variety and change – or simple rotation of crops. There is even a parallel with horses who, contrary to common belief, get bored quite quickly. For example, at one point, I worked with my young stallion on a system of squares and circles and rode him bareback though it all effortlessly. I was so pleased. But the next time I tried it, he went askew and the third time he threw me off – I understood perfectly what he was telling me: I am bored, can’t we do something else? Of course, that’s what you get from a horse that is brought up with liberty training:-) Smart horse and so I gave up the geometry approach… as I love my horses being expressive and acting like real horses – what we are interesting in is, indeed, a ‘consensual’ relationship in terms of the ‘family’ dynamic I was talking about – the horses are active members of the family! Nevertheless, that pains me a little as each of them needs to find their niche in our world, but I have been making some progress and they are becoming known in their own right… slowly.



  3. Ian Rowcliffe on November 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    I went back to the original summary of this principle and noted the last part:

    ‘and actively diffuse “evaluation apprehension” using a special six-point method for constructively evaluating strengths, challenges and skill deficiencies.’

    What we have now is a five-point method. What changed exactly and why? I suggest the notion goes from “evaluation apprehension” to evaluation appreciation. Here, the exemplification in the talk with respect to bringing out the best in a horse suddenly made the idea crystal clear – the ‘penny dropped’ as we Brits say:-)



  4. Susan Garvin on November 4, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Hi Ian, I got notification of both your comments below!
    I see what you mean now, I think I had a narrower view of ‘consensual leadership’ which didn’t look at the ‘care and nurture’ side of relationships, I saw it more as being a healthy team where each person might be called to actually lead, when their particular skills and talents were most appropriate. somewhat more literal than the ramifications you see, so thanks for explaining.
    re the old tenant farmer, my friend and co-herd-keeper, and I this year started permaculture, a veggie garden along the synergic principles your farmer described to you. It has been a huge success and guess what, during the drought and abnormal heat of the summer, our garden was producing as fast as we could pick, while others just slowly dried up, and we are still, this weekend, picking up to 15kg of good tasty tomatoes….this is the lesson and the law in visible action, how once you put it all back together and trust it to work, it repays you….. in spades (sic!). 🙂



  5. Ian Rowcliffe on November 4, 2012 at 11:55 am

    I was thinking more about consensual leadership as I was feeding the horses – our greatest source of inspiration. And I was thinking about the old tenant farmer who once lived here. I asked him how he makes a living, for he had no clear source of income. His reply: everything plays a part: one crop gives way to another and each compliments the other. He never ‘put all his eggs in one basket’. Interestingly, the vines were grown high to provide shade for the vegetables underneath. And the fertilizer from the various animals for the vegetables would also nourish the vines. By the way, it was the cows that drew the plough to till the soil. And so each crop had its moment, its voice: its time of being significant throughout the year. Just to give you an idea of this, he told me that he knew every tree in the forest individually in the same way as his vines, plants in general, and animals – con – sensually!



  6. Ian Rowcliffe on November 4, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Good Morning, Susan: I was just coming here to mention that I have been re-reading the GPs and came to conclusion that I need to know them ‘by heart’. And yes, coming back to them, they do make so much sense, or should that be ‘horse sense’?

    (Otherwise, we are still unable to reply directly to comments rather than creating a new post here time. And the comment notification system doesn’t seem to be working again.)

    Re: links, I think I only posted one recently of Linda demonstrating the Rasa Dance on the chapter page.

    Re: nepotism – there is an enormous sense of social solidarity within political parties – at least in Portugal; the downside being that they don’t listen – or aren’t allowed to act independently – with respect to people outside the party. You know, they are ‘obliged’ to follow the party line.

    Re: Daniel Quinn – and the circus troop. After writing his books, talking about ‘taker’ and ‘leaver’ life styles, Quinn exemplified the latter as being similar to how circus’s are organized. They work as one big family for the most part, and members develop their skills in terms of how they think they will promote the interests of the circus. Clearly, the acts are usually quite different from each other and allow flexibility in terms of the audience and the specific situation which is defined in terms of entertainment and diversion. This notion, then, can be modified such that another example might be theatre groups who work with slightly different agendas – sometimes, enlightenment…

    Re: vulnerability in families – I was particularly thinking in terms of children who are (supposed) to be protected and cared for with respect to their relative state of maturity. But, as we know, family structures differ although, as Linda was mentioning in the recording, improvements have been made. Certainly, here in Portugal children are cared for and given a great deal of consideration (- the problem is in the schools, which have been terribly undermined through lack of vision, outright panic and lack of integrity. And, as we have discussed with Linda, this phenomenon is very general today and a remedy needs to be found.)

    Re: some families – Yes, there is the ‘Family Life’ phenomenon illustrated by R.D. Laing in his book and the film, where vulnerability is abused. What you see is a ‘heartless’ situation, a family that isn’t built around love, brandishing stereotypes at each other – that is why family therapy was forth coming as opposed to treating the individual and, in this way, in theory, each part is ‘given’ a significant voice. But love is such an undefinable term. Looked at from another way, the family needs to function as a cohesive group to survive and thrive much like the horses. Otherwise, there is breakdown of one sort or another. Clearly, parents have a great part to play, as do the children themselves, in developing sibling rivalry/solidarity in the early stages of the family and even into the parents second childhood if the unit works like families in Portugal.



  7. Susan Garvin on November 4, 2012 at 8:13 am

    you know Ian I can’t see the links you mention here, can you explain further? I wouldn’t have said that nepotism was an example of non-predatory leadership, if anything I would have classified it as the opposite, but I am not sure that works either. Nor am I sure about your assessment of vulnerability in families – and even if it is tolerated, does that really assist the vulnerable person? might it not push them further into their vulnerability or at least the behaviours which that triggers? I don’t have an answer to these questions, I just wondered if you could ‘unpack’ your thoughts here!



  8. Ian Rowcliffe on November 4, 2012 at 12:59 am

    Non-predatory leadership reminds me more of a family structure where obviously vulnerability is tolerated much more in general. Paradoxically, you might also see it within political parties, where you get the ‘job for the boys’ phenomenon, such that people are put in positions to ‘help’ them out rather than because of merit, but here the comparison breaks down, doesn’t it? For the group structure Linda mentions promotes skill sets within the group and the need to actively find solutions. Another possible group structure has been mentioned by Daniel Quinn – that of the circus troop.

    As I mentioned to Mark, the dialogue in the audio is a mini-example of consensual leadership where the initiative is ‘tossed’ back and forth rather like a ball or the way tribal ‘talking sticks’ are passed around. Not so easily defined in horses, though, but more subtle, more dynamic and flexible. But most definitely vulnerability is shared and cared for – social solidarity is a given.