The Best Present You Can Give This Holiday Season

Post written by Mic Johnson, Blog Coach | LinkedIn Trainer | WordPress Website Guy | Rational Optimist | Jayhawk | Sushi Lover | @MJMeetings Husband

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(from left to right) Marc Shaffer, Mic Johnson, Mark Niblo, John Isenberg, Marc Hammer

This past October I, along with four other guys (Marc Shaffer, Mark Niblo, Marc Hammer, and John Isenberg), got together at Challenge U to take part in the Equine Experience, an experiential learning session with horses.

I met the owner, Andi Burgis, several months ago at one of my favorite monthly education and networking events in the city…Shawn Kinkade’s Business Book Review.

While at one of the Business Book Reviews, Andi told me and my friend, Marc Hammer, that she wanted to get a group of men to come out and try out one of her experiential learning sessions. So Marc and I reached out to people in our networks and Andi provided the experience.

Here was our challenge: 

  1. Enter the ring where the horse is waiting for you.
  2. Approach the horse to introduce yourself. Pet him/her if you feel so inclined.
  3. Ask the horse to walk in a circle around the ring.
  4. Ask the horse to trot in a circle around the ring.
  5. Ask the horse to stop/turn around/and walk in a circle around the ring in the opposite direction.
  6. Ask the horse to stop.
  7. Thank the horse for working with you.
  8. Exit the ring.
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Mic Johnson and Rev

Here’s what I learned:

1. I haven’t been around horses much in my life. They are beautiful animals. So big and so graceful. I’m not going to lie, though, it’s a bit intimidating at first being around a 1,200 lb. animal.

2. I was really impressed by the willingness of each guy in our group to get outside of their comfort zone, to be willing to talk about their fears and insecurities as it related to the challenge, and to be willing to ask for help when we couldn’t get the horse to do what we wanted it to. I thanked the group and shared with them that the experience wouldn’t have been as fulfilling, personally or for the group, had even one person not been entirely open to the experience. (Btw, I’m happy to report that all five of us passed the challenge!)

3. I was reminded that I need to become a better listener. I tend to get so passionate and wrapped up in my desire to help people that I spend too much time telling them things that I think will help or inspire them. I need to slow down and listen first. It’s something I’ve struggled with for years and this experience reminded me I still have a lot of work to do.

4. Did you know 93% of communication between people is non-verbal? I had no idea. That seemed really high to me, but that was definitely one of the thought-provoking takeaways from the day.

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Marc Shaffer and Dreamer

5. My biggest takeaway from the day, however, was when Andi talked about how 100% of communication with horses is nonverbal and how they are 100% PRESENT.

That really resonated with me and got me thinking about how hard it is for me to stay in the present moment. It’s so easy to get wrapped up into all of the things that life throws our way…or that we put into our lives to distract us…or things we think/worry about that never come to pass.

And so that’s the present I wanted to share with you in this blog post. It’s the present I’ve been trying really hard to give myself as I’ve done meditation over the last several months (thanks to my friend Jon McGraw and his company Vision Pursue).

And it’s the only present you need to give to yourself and to your loved ones this holiday season and beyond…

BE 100% PRESENT.

Enjoy the time you have with your family and friends.

Put down your smartphone or put it in airplane mode so notifications won’t interrupt the moment.

Challenge yourself not to think about all of the things that need to be done or all of the things you didn’t get done.

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Andi Burgis and Mark Niblo

Don’t get caught up in what someone said, what someone did, what someone didn’t do, etc.

Don’t give into irrational fear.

BE 100% PRESENT. You and everyone else will be better for it.

(P.S. – If you or your team are looking for an activity to get you out of your comfort zone, to help you learn how to communicate better, to learn how to work with others more effectively, etc., I highly recommend you check out the Challenge U website and give Andi a call or drop her an email. You can reach her at 760-535-3052 or andi@challenge-u.com.)

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