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Katie Navarra
Katie Navarra

We recently attended Katie Navarra’s seminar: Reset: Reconnect: Reframe. Since the seminar involved a horse, we expected something very different such as best approaches and ways to connect with a horse.

However, the horse was not the subject of the learning session but was instrumental in serving as a catalyst to achieve greater goals. We were pleasantly surprised how much we learned. We know Katie Navarra is an accomplished equine journalist and learned that she is an amazing coach.

In this seminar, she promised we would:

  • Get honest feedback about what stands in our (or our team’s way to achieving remarkable results.
  • Uncover what we were tolerating and identify next steps to achieving our goals and more purposeful interactions with others.
  • Gain clarity on what energizes use, enabling us to maximize our professional pursuits.
  • Recognize the strengths you bring to the field and how to leverage those to protect your mental health.

Katie co-facilitates the horse partnered coaching experience with Jen Miller, a fellow horse owner and experienced executive leadership coach. The pair kicked off the workshop by sharing a bit about their work experiences and then asked participants about themselves, their goals, dreams and aspirations.

It was interesting to hear from other participants whom we’ve never met. However, as Katie also works with companies for team building, it’s certain that participants who’ve worked together would also share more about themselves under Katie’s expert guidance.

While Katie is a skilled facilitator, it was really Bella, a dun quarter horse mare with zebra-like markings on her legs, who led the most poignant teaching moments. Bella is aloof – not like the “in your pocket” sort of horse but like all horses, they are non- judgmental. They are interested in food, water and safety and how they operate to achieve those outcomes translates directly to workplace and interpersonal relationships.

Our group was unique since we were horse people but we still received a thorough safety demonstration. Then the real work began.

Our first task was to approach Bella. Some people approached cautiously, slowly offering their hand to Bella’s seemingly disinterested nose. Others approached Bella, petted her face, played with her mane, and hugged her. Bella was nonplussed and took all approaches in stride, never wavering, spooking or shying away.

We were asked to give first impressions of her. She was described as attentive, calm, charismatic, charming, joyful, healthy and harmonious. Some people felt a bit out of their element with new people and a new horse. Everyone had their unique and very personal experience with a new horse and it was interesting to learn their thoughts and feelings.

Katie Navarra and Bella
Katie Navarra and Bella

With the help of Bella, we learned about communication and success criteria. Some people want to “go with the flow” and have no appetite for conflict – especially with a large animal! In fact, they do their best to avoid it. Some think conflict is inevitable and an integral part of achieving success. Depending on the goal, different paths may lead to the end in mind as long as all parties discuss and agree upon the definition of “done.”

The interactions sequined into a discussion of personalities in the workplace and asked each of us to expound about our personality types and leadership styles. Some had very outgoing, engaging personalities with lots of “WOO.” Some were more introverted and great team mates, who preferred to be heads down and engaged completing the tasks set forth before them. Some wanted to push boundaries. Some preferred to stay in their lane. Understanding our own personality types and how others may be different is critical in both personal and business relationships.

Katie mentioned that the person who shows up for work is the person we are at home. There’s no difference. If someone is shy and introverted at home, they aren’t going to turn into a bombastic extrovert at work – and vice versa.

Additionally, we learned that we shouldn’t carry the issues from home to work and from work to home. For example, if we have a conflict with someone from home, we shouldn’t discuss these problems with an innocent co-worker or have them be the brunt of our frustration. The colleague, in this case, is the innocent party. It is a challenge to compartmentalize and “turn the page” when moving from one situation to another, and there needs to be a conscientious effort to do so.

Our next activity was to move the horse as a team without the convenience of a halter or lead rope. The first exercise was to move the horse to the center which we successfully achieved. The second exercise was to move the horse to 3 points we decided. So, as a team we decided to move Bella to one end of the pen, to the center, and finally to the entryway. We figured the entryway would be the last step and easiest to achieve.

In the process of moving Bella, there was little communication. One team member thought we were “close enough” to the center while the other kept trying to move Bella so she was perfectly placed in the center. Again, for the next two locations, there was a bit of a disconnect between what exactly was considered “done” and “complete.”

Katie Navarra coaching
Participants had an opportunity to work in a group and experience one-on-one interactions with Bella.

Through an expertly guided debrief discussion we learned that we operate under different assumptions and typically think that our criteria for completion is the correct one. However, other team members have different opinions and perspectives as well as varying processes to achieve those goals. It’s best not to have loosely defined goals. We learned communication is vital both at the onset of a task to establish agreement of completion and success as well as communication throughout the process. This is vital for both professional and personal relationships!

We highly recommend this session, which revealed at least 10 ideas to bring back to our professional personal relationships:

  1. Clearly define your goals
  2. Communication your process at the start and throughout the task
  3. Avoid bringing your conflict or issues to the next person/colleague
  4. Understand different personalities and engage accordingly
  5. Utilize your strength as a team
  6. Explore, enable and challenge your teams
  7. Identify issues and work through conflict
  8. Reflect on the encounter and process to determine improvement
  9. Create trust in a workplace
  10. Don’t judge

The biggest takeaway for us—this is not just another team building or professional development workshop. This is an innovative experience that delivers epic results to amplify our work.

Katie Navarra Bradley is an award winning journalist, author and professional coach. She brings together business owners and leaders to amplify their individual and collective growth through life-changing experiences. You can find Katie Navarro in our section on Clinicians & Trainers.

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