Embodied Leadership: From Knowledge To Knowing

A great leader doesn’t just know a lot, they are a living, breathing expression of what they know. Their knowledge may be obtained in the pages of a text but their knowing is obtained through movement.

Change doesn’t come from thinking about doing. I don’t become a great leader solely because I think about becoming one. I don’t become resilient or agile because I read a book explaining how to be these things. I become because I move and because I do. Something happens when we are in motion. We can move beyond the mind and into a space where deep understanding is possible. A space where creative insights and ideas are generated, where we learn about ourselves and others and where profound change can happen. In doing, we develop as people and we develop as leaders.

A distinct characteristic of the KAOSPILOT approach to learning is that it invites in the body as a core aspect of the teachings and methodology. Beyond the regular masterclass style workshops, which deliver theory, tools and methods, and beyond real world projects, which deliver practical application, we are asked to use our bodies. We engage in the likes of vocal work, theatre exercises, partner yoga, stress training, and the martial art, Aikido.

I asked practitioners, who have worked with KAOSPILOT students over the years, why involving the body is important in shaping leaders. I invite you into some of their answers.

You have so many other languages than just the spoken one. – Stinne Vium

Stinne Vium  Education / Performance Art / Experience Design

“There’s something about getting the experience into the body, to know intuitively what it feels like. I only fully understand something by living it through my whole system.” In an exercise involving the throwing of sticks, Stinne explains you can explore “how do I receive the sticks? How do I throw them? How is my communication without words? If anger arises, what is that saying? Our bodies are saying so much. Maybe our body says something different than if we just speak. You have so many other languages than just the spoken one and the exercises I invite people into help in getting aware of these. Then you can put a reflection on it with the mind afterwards.”

Toke Møller  Aikido Teacher / Art of Hosting Practitioner

“Movement allows a human being to integrate everything we are. The idea that there’s the brain and then there’s the heart and then there’s the body is something the brain has defined, but it’s not the reality. We are one thing. When we are present, whether that is through moving the body in a certain way, with a certain purpose and intention, or with a certain pattern of movement (like Aikido, or any discipline), suddenly the mind’s commentator can fall away and then that oneness can be felt, the experience of an aha! moment can take place, and true understanding can happen. Aikido can be viewed as a practice of learning how to be in the experience of the moment, and that, actually, is a form of leadership, maybe the most subtle and superb form of leadership. Being in the moment means you are here. You are just present to what is going on, fully – not judging and analyzing, but simply aware and agile.”

Stephen Rappaport  Performance Artist

“There is always a ‘third thing’ present and available to access through a kind of physical listening.” Trust in ‘The Third Thing’, a concept and physical experience core to Stephen’s teaching, “offers leaders tools for communication, such as listening skills; focus on ‘the third thing’ and rejecting the critical intruding voice that distracts from the in-between. Working with The Third Thing enables a positive form of vulnerability that allows for empathy and generates community. It offers trust in one’s ideas, imagination and creativity, promoting an engaged, charismatic presence.”

Aske Rask  Trainer at SEIERFITNESS

“To be a leader, you have to understand people. To understand people and to help them to change, you need to understand yourself and be able to change.” Stress, Aske believes is the largest challenge we face in our personal development. “Once you understand stress (by way of understanding the nervous system), it’s possible to understand how to change yourself. When you start changing your own behavior, your surroundings will follow.”

It’s important that we move, instead of thinking about moving. – Toke Møller

Change doesn’t come from thinking about doing. I don’t become a great leader solely because I think about becoming one. I become because I move and because I do. As with most things as abstract and widely defined as leadership, there isn’t an exact formula or a guarantee of success. But if you take anything away, it is to seek ways to move beyond the mind. To move into a space where knowledge and thinking can be integrated rather than acquired. A space where connections are drawn, answers are generated, creativity is bred and self understanding is possible. It’s in the midst of motion that we become the leaders we most want to follow.

More from Emily

Everything is Uncertain: Get Used To It

It’s not often that life goes as we think it will. And...
Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *