Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
The Courage To Lead
Category:
Spirit
"If people can grow their emotional courage to some degree, they can begin to follow through on things they have not followed through on in the past, and realize they have a freedom and a power to act in the world in ways they have not experienced before."

Esalen faculty Peter Bregman got into leadership coaching in a serendipitous way. He attended a college camping trip “by mistake” and became so intrigued with the concept of outdoor leadership that he went on to form his own company.

Culling from some of the wisdom he learned outdoors, Peter is now a coach, teacher and best-selling author, assisting successful people to become better leaders and build more effective teams. Peter, who is at the helm of Leading With Emotional Courage at Esalen May 1–3, dives deeper into the subject of courage with Esalen News.

Esalen News: What is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for leaders today in regards to practicing courage?

It’s the same stumbling block that it’s always been: it’s hard! And what’s hard is to feel all the feelings we need to feel in order to act. “If I act—take a risk—I will feel the vulnerability of failure, of rejection, of embarrassment, of conflict or disconnection.”

That is why we need emotional courage. If we have the courage to feel all of those emotions, then we will have the courage to act and do things that might bring about those emotions.

Esalen News: How does a workshop setting assist us in building and practicing courage?

When I was leading 30-day expeditions in the wilderness, I learned the formula for not just learning but learning safely in a way that translates into new action in the world. Here it is: high perceived risk/low actual risk—so the person who is learning feels the pressure and the thrill of trying something new without any consequences of failure.

Here’s an example: If I asked you to stand up in a room of people and just start dancing wildly, you might be hesitant. That’s because the perceived risk is high. You would feel the potential of people’s judgement or you would feel embarrassed, maybe even ashamed. Or something else. But I’m betting you would feel something that would make it hard for you to do. That’s the perceived risk.

But the actual risk of standing up in a room of people and dancing wildly? Zero. There is no actual risk. No negative consequences to doing it. A workshop setting is the perfect environment to learn in because that’s the environment where we can try things, expand our comfort zone and find our willingness to act again in the future in the real world.

Esalen News: What are several ways to courageously communicate with grace in the presence of strong emotions?

The first advice I have is to empathize with the person with whom you’re communicating. What might they be experiencing? Listen to them and help them feel seen and heard.

You may have to breathe through your own emotions, which may be preventing you from listening, but if you start by listening and taking in the other person’s experience, that will relax both them and you. And you’ll probably learn something in the process.

And then when it’s your turn to speak, after recapping what you’ve heard so the other person feels completely understood, share your perspective without watering it down. Be caring, clear and succinct.

Esalen News: What actions can we incorporate in our daily lives to practice courage?

Try something that scares you every day. It can be very small, like trying a new food or walking more slowly. Those are things that, believe it or not, may bring up emotions for you if they are different than what you’re used to.

Continue every day to do something that makes you a little nervous and also excited. If you have been putting off a difficult conversation, go ahead and start it. If you’re thinking about writing but you haven’t gotten yourself to do it, sit in front of a blank page for 10 minutes and just start noticing everything you feel in the process. We build our emotional courage by using our emotional courage.

Esalen News: What has been one of your most courageous acts?

That’s a tough question because every act that makes me feel something feels hard and courageous. As I build my own emotional courage, things that felt tough a year ago, feel simple and straightforward and routine now. That said, getting married, having children—those are very courageous acts. They are thrilling and scary and exciting, and filled with the hope and uncertainty of the future.

Every day that I sit down to write feels like a tough courageous act as I reveal tender parts without knowing how they will be received. It’s the same with teaching and any conversation that touches me deeply. At this point, I am only interested in work that touches me deeply. I want to be moved to tears every day. I want to feel my soul touched.

To put myself in those situations every day feels courageous and incredibly rewarding. Anything truly rewarding is at least a little scary.

Esalen News: What do you love most about this work?

What I love most about this work is helping people show up in ways that they did not previously have courage to show up in. When I witness people doing something more than they thought they could do rather than just learn something interesting, I am often moved because they discover endless places within themselves.

If people can grow their emotional courage to some degree, they can begin to follow through on things they have not followed through on in the past, and realize they have a freedom and a power to act in the world in ways they have not experienced before.


“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

The Courage To Lead

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Category:
Spirit
"If people can grow their emotional courage to some degree, they can begin to follow through on things they have not followed through on in the past, and realize they have a freedom and a power to act in the world in ways they have not experienced before."

Esalen faculty Peter Bregman got into leadership coaching in a serendipitous way. He attended a college camping trip “by mistake” and became so intrigued with the concept of outdoor leadership that he went on to form his own company.

Culling from some of the wisdom he learned outdoors, Peter is now a coach, teacher and best-selling author, assisting successful people to become better leaders and build more effective teams. Peter, who is at the helm of Leading With Emotional Courage at Esalen May 1–3, dives deeper into the subject of courage with Esalen News.

Esalen News: What is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for leaders today in regards to practicing courage?

It’s the same stumbling block that it’s always been: it’s hard! And what’s hard is to feel all the feelings we need to feel in order to act. “If I act—take a risk—I will feel the vulnerability of failure, of rejection, of embarrassment, of conflict or disconnection.”

That is why we need emotional courage. If we have the courage to feel all of those emotions, then we will have the courage to act and do things that might bring about those emotions.

Esalen News: How does a workshop setting assist us in building and practicing courage?

When I was leading 30-day expeditions in the wilderness, I learned the formula for not just learning but learning safely in a way that translates into new action in the world. Here it is: high perceived risk/low actual risk—so the person who is learning feels the pressure and the thrill of trying something new without any consequences of failure.

Here’s an example: If I asked you to stand up in a room of people and just start dancing wildly, you might be hesitant. That’s because the perceived risk is high. You would feel the potential of people’s judgement or you would feel embarrassed, maybe even ashamed. Or something else. But I’m betting you would feel something that would make it hard for you to do. That’s the perceived risk.

But the actual risk of standing up in a room of people and dancing wildly? Zero. There is no actual risk. No negative consequences to doing it. A workshop setting is the perfect environment to learn in because that’s the environment where we can try things, expand our comfort zone and find our willingness to act again in the future in the real world.

Esalen News: What are several ways to courageously communicate with grace in the presence of strong emotions?

The first advice I have is to empathize with the person with whom you’re communicating. What might they be experiencing? Listen to them and help them feel seen and heard.

You may have to breathe through your own emotions, which may be preventing you from listening, but if you start by listening and taking in the other person’s experience, that will relax both them and you. And you’ll probably learn something in the process.

And then when it’s your turn to speak, after recapping what you’ve heard so the other person feels completely understood, share your perspective without watering it down. Be caring, clear and succinct.

Esalen News: What actions can we incorporate in our daily lives to practice courage?

Try something that scares you every day. It can be very small, like trying a new food or walking more slowly. Those are things that, believe it or not, may bring up emotions for you if they are different than what you’re used to.

Continue every day to do something that makes you a little nervous and also excited. If you have been putting off a difficult conversation, go ahead and start it. If you’re thinking about writing but you haven’t gotten yourself to do it, sit in front of a blank page for 10 minutes and just start noticing everything you feel in the process. We build our emotional courage by using our emotional courage.

Esalen News: What has been one of your most courageous acts?

That’s a tough question because every act that makes me feel something feels hard and courageous. As I build my own emotional courage, things that felt tough a year ago, feel simple and straightforward and routine now. That said, getting married, having children—those are very courageous acts. They are thrilling and scary and exciting, and filled with the hope and uncertainty of the future.

Every day that I sit down to write feels like a tough courageous act as I reveal tender parts without knowing how they will be received. It’s the same with teaching and any conversation that touches me deeply. At this point, I am only interested in work that touches me deeply. I want to be moved to tears every day. I want to feel my soul touched.

To put myself in those situations every day feels courageous and incredibly rewarding. Anything truly rewarding is at least a little scary.

Esalen News: What do you love most about this work?

What I love most about this work is helping people show up in ways that they did not previously have courage to show up in. When I witness people doing something more than they thought they could do rather than just learn something interesting, I am often moved because they discover endless places within themselves.

If people can grow their emotional courage to some degree, they can begin to follow through on things they have not followed through on in the past, and realize they have a freedom and a power to act in the world in ways they have not experienced before.


“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
The Courage To Lead
Category:
Spirit

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About

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The Courage To Lead

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