They say horses are one of the most intelligent animals on the planet. But are they smart enough to teach us about intentional leadership, clear communication and constructive power?

I chat with Schelli Whitehouse – an author, speaker and equine-assisted business coach. Say what? Yes! Horses are phenomenal facilitators to help teach genuine leadership skills. They can only trust and follow you when you have mastered the art of leading yourself.

Whether you are a novice or a showjumper, leadership requires clear direction, boundaries, and shared intuition to serve the team. So, are you ready to stand (or ride) in your authentic leadership?

Show notes

  • Equine-assisted coaching is a learning method that engages with horses to promote personal development.
  • This type of coaching requires your full attention, intuition and instinct.
  • Every horse has a role to play in the herd. They require you to play your part in looking after the group.
  • Horses can sense a conflict in your intention and action. They only respond to your projected reality.
  • Participants are forced to set clear direction, boundaries and shared energy to be accepted and trusted.
  • Horses are a medium and feature of how you help yourself and the people around you.
  • Lasting change can only take place through experiential learning.
  • Women are becoming more conscientious of their contribution in the workplace.
  • But we associate money with oppressive power.
  • We often don’t have the natural practice or confidence to ask for what we are worth.
  • Money can only reflect the energy you project on it because it is merely a currency of exchange.
  • Confident leaders and master communicators can lead because they recognise their own talents that contribute to the whole.
  • Scientists at the Heart Institute have proven that the heart is an organ of intellectual perception.
  • The heart has an electric magnetic field that is 5000 times larger than that of the brain!
  • This allows the heart to receive more subconscious information and at a faster rate than that of your smart brain.
  • The curious case of instinct vs. reason and how to overcome uncertainty.
  • Have the confidence to be specific of whom you serve, what you offer, and how much you charge.
  • Unpacking the conscious work we need to do to shift the power of our identity to make lasting change.
  • Be brave to be free to live your best life!

Learn more about Schelli Whitehouse

Check out Schelli’s website, Facebook page and book. We applaud this amazing work!

Related articles

If you enjoyed this podcast, you will enjoy listening to Learn Your Super Power and  What is Your Worth?

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Lisa Linfield: 00:09 Hello everybody, and welcome to today’s episode of Working Women’s Wealth. I am joined by Schelli Whitehouse, who is a business coach and author and a speaker. She has an absolutely unique approach to creating quantum leaps with both the teams, and the individuals that she coaches using a method called Equine Assisted Coaching. She also has a background in branding and marketing, so she’s definitely a person who is well rounded. I’m so excited for you guys to listen to her, because I had my pre session with her and I haven’t stopped thinking about it in the week or so that’s PAST. So it’s going to be a great one. I’m really looking forward to it. Thank you for joining us, Schelli.
Schelli W.: 01:07 Thank you, Lisa. What a lovely introduction.
Lisa Linfield: 01:10 Schelli, for those of us out there, what is Equine Assisted Coaching and how do you use it to create quantum leaps with teams and individuals?
Schelli W.: 01:21 Okay, great. Well, I’m glad we have a lot of time, because it’s going to take some time to explain that. So let me start with what Equine Assisted Coaching and Equine Assisted Learning is. It’s a modality of personal or professional growth and learning, that engages a time spent with horses. Generally the time is on the ground, meaning we’re not riding the horses, but we’re interacting with them in a way that gives us information about ourselves. So whether you have never had an experience with a horse in your whole life, or you grew up riding horses, or you’re professional competitor, it’s a very different experience, and an opportunity to get outside of your every day routine and way of doing things, and literally step into a new arena with another sentient being that speaks a different language than you do. To begin a process of communication that requires your full attention, and your focus in a different energy.
Then as you start to learn how to communicate this way, those skills become integrated in your own personal leadership style, in a way that you can go out in the world with more confidence, and trust your instincts, and your intuition because literally that’s what you’re doing is honing those skills when you begin working with the horses.
Lisa Linfield: 02:55 So you never actually get on top of the horses. You work with horses-
Schelli W.: 02:55 Yes.
Lisa Linfield: 03:00 Both of your feet on the ground.
Schelli W.: 03:02 Correct.
Lisa Linfield: 03:04 Why does it add such a unique element to individual, or team coaching?
Schelli W.: 03:12 Yeah, well in our everyday world, or if you’re working just directly with a coach, a human coach, we talk. We talk and talk, and talk and talk, and talk and talk and talk. We ask questions, we answer questions and we discover things about ourselves, and we’ll have some epiphanies here and there, but it’s pretty much cerebral. Meaning it’s in our heads. Until it sifts down into our cellular knowing, into our bodies, we call embodying the information or the knowing or a new behavior, it’s still just in our heads. It doesn’t become part of who we are. So when we’re working with an animal that doesn’t talk, and requires us to change our behavior in order to become its leader or in order for it to trust us, then as we change our behavior, the learning becomes more natural.
It becomes a new normal. That’s why it’s, I can’t even tell you what the percentage of effect has been this has over just direct coaching, or direct therapy or talking. Both are wonderful, but being able to add this component accelerates the learning. It becomes a habit. It takes practice and conditioning to embody a habit to make something new, normal and this accelerates that.
Lisa Linfield: 04:44 Let me try and understand it. I’m the leader of a team of let’s say seven people, and we come to you for some equine assisted coaching. What would the process be?
Schelli W.: 04:58 First of all, I would spend a little bit of time explaining why we’re doing this with horses, and why horses are such great facilitators of leadership. So what a horse will require of you is exactly what they require of each other. When you start to understand that, then you can start to behave in that way and then they will trust you, and they will go with you. For instance, leadership requirements of a horse is that they require that you pay attention. So in her dynamics, there’s a lead mare, there’s several different roles within a herd, but there’s generally a lead horse, which is generally a mare, not always, but generally a mare, meaning the female. There is a lead stallion, and then there are sentinels. Sentinels are like ambassadors. They’d be the first to greet a new horse or a new human, and then they would be the first to defend the herd and keep something away, or alert to danger. So those are sentinels.
Inside of a herd, it’s important that everyone is paying attention, particularly the lead mare, stallion and the sentinels, that they are paying attention. That they know what’s going on and that they have an awareness of everyone’s wellbeing. They’re always looking out for each other’s wellbeing, which is something that I think in our corporate industries would be a wonderful trait to embody. Looking out for each others’ wellbeing.
Lisa Linfield: 06:32 Even the sentinel to welcome a new person into the group.
Schelli W.: 06:36 Exactly, and to help them understand the culture. The other thing that’s required of leadership is clear direction. Not only what way are we going, but to give direction higher [inaudible 00:06:49], like forward and laterally so that everybody understands the direction and what their role is in that direction. The other thing that they require is that your energy must match the situation. I’m going to give you an example. I know you have wildfires in your area too, but out west here in the states, sometimes we have these horrific wildfires and there’s a lot of wild horse herds out west. So if a horse herd encounters smoke out west, how quickly do you think they’re going to move away from that smoke?
Lisa Linfield: 07:24 Very.
Schelli W.: 07:25 Right, they’re going to get the F out of there as fast as they can. So their energy is matching that situation. So here in the deep south where I live in the states in Raleigh, North Carolina, there’s a lot of countryside. We barbecue and cook out. If a horse smell smoke in their safe environment, how quickly are they going to move away from it?
Lisa Linfield: 07:51 I don’t know. I mean, will they respond naturally or will they respond?
Schelli W.: 07:54 If they smell a barbecue, that’s something they probably smelled on a regular basis, because it’s near where they live. They’re just going to go to the other side. They’re going to get out of the breeze, and get away from the smell.
Lisa Linfield: 08:04 Absolutely.
Schelli W.: 08:05 Right, but they’re not going to gallop as fast as they can, they’re just going to move away. So in corporate speak, if everything’s a wildfire then nothing’s a wildfire, because the energy if it’s always, I need this asap and make this happen as fast as you can, then when is something really a wildfire? How is the team going to mobilize when it’s really critical, if they’re burnt out on always having to perform at top speed for things that don’t really necessarily require that. So a great leader will require the energy that matches the situation. Then the fourth thing is the congruence, meaning when your insides match your outsides, that’s when your thinking and your feeling and your actions are in alignment. You’re not saying one thing, but behaving a different way, which we often see in leadership. Well, not just leadership, but just all of us. We can try to mask that we are uncertain, or even if we’re really excited and happy about something, but someone else is not.
We pretend that we’re not feeling what we are, and horses require that we be honest about what we’re feeling. If we’re not honest about what we’re feeling, then our energy is incongruent. Meaning our insides are not matching our outsides, and horses read energy. They can feel your energy and if it’s not congruent, it would be like a jagged feeling as opposed to a smooth feeling for a horse. Then they know you’re not the leader of yourself, that you’re not honest with yourself. Therefore, you’re not trustworthy and they cannot trust you. Isn’t that interesting?
Lisa Linfield: 09:52 That is amazing. I think I’d be terrified to meet a horse.
Schelli W.: 09:56 I know, because you’re whoa, they’re going to judge me, but see that’s just it. They do not judge. They only respond to what is. We’re the ones that judge, we’re the ones that project onto ourselves or onto the horse that we’re being judged, but we are not. They’re only responding to what is, and that’s the beauty. It gives you the opportunity to notice what it is and realize, what needs to shift. Once you make the shift, like once you become clear about what you’re thinking and what energy you need for the direction you’re going, and that you’re paying attention when all those things click into place, the horse will shift and you will see it shift. Then you know, and you can feel it yourself. Then once you can feel it yourself, you can go there again when you’re not with a horse.
Lisa Linfield: 10:48 Can they shift within one session? So if I can-
Schelli W.: 10:51 Absolutely.
Lisa Linfield: 10:52 So they don’t hold grudges?
Schelli W.: 10:54 No.
Lisa Linfield: 10:55 They don’t go hey, [inaudible 00:10:59] minutes ago, she was shady and dodgy. I’m going to hold on before I follow her.
Schelli W.: 11:04 No, it’s like a do over every time.
Lisa Linfield: 11:06 So I have now booked my team and we’ve had our briefing, then what will we do?
Schelli W.: 11:11 Great. So then we’re actually going to have a couple of different experiences with the horse. Generally when I’m working with teams, I’ll set it up so that we’ll break up in groups. We’ll have four people in one group, and three or four in another group or five or however many there are. Each person will get to have an individual experience with the horse, and the experience is set up so you actually get to practice greeting a horse the way a horse would prefer to be greeted, setting a clear boundary. Unlike humans where we’re going to run up to each other and we are going to shake each other’s hands, and hi, how are you? Nice to meet you? Where are you from, where’d you go to school? How many kids do you have? What do you do for a living? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, because we’re trying to establish connection. I mean that’s how we do it. What do we have in common? Where can we connect?
With horses, they want to know that you can hold your own space. The way that we establish that is that we set a boundary by asking them to move away from us, and hold their own space. Then they’re like, okay. If you can’t hold your own space, they’ll usually keep coming into you over and over until you can hold your own space. That’s a way of setting a very clear boundary, so that you can work together with mutual respect as opposed to one pushing another, one demanding something of another. So we’ll have that experience.
Lisa Linfield: 12:39 How do you do that?
Schelli W.: 12:39 We’ll teach you how to ask the horse to back up, or to move their hindquarters away from you. Then we’ll teach you how to lead the horse respectfully so that you are in alignment with each other, and that’s an opportunity to set a direction and energy. So we use all the things that horses require. Where you need to pay attention, how to set a direction, what kind of energy you need to stay in relationship with where you want to go, with what’s required and then to notice whether you’re being congruent. It could be just something as simple as saying, wow, I’m really nervous around this worse. Then the horse will just relax, because you spoke the truth.
Lisa Linfield: 13:23 I guess one of the other things for me that number five, is the ability for you to hold and maintain your own space and boundary. Just this morning I was chatting to by daughter, and she was upset from school. One of the issues is her inability to hold boundaries, and it’s such an important characteristic for all of us, both as leaders and as followers and as humans is the ability to hold our own space and our own boundaries.
Schelli W.: 13:51 Yes, it’s probably one of our biggest issues around not accomplishing things in our life because one, especially for women, we’re peoplepleasers, and so we say yes to everything and we don’t realize that that’s actually a boundary issue. That we’re not holding our own space, and what’s most important to our wellbeing and we’re saying yes to others, and it’s not their fault. They asked and we said yes. We can ask, right? It’s not their fault. The way that horses teaches this too is oftentimes I’ll see the horses either nudging somebody, or might start licking them and they think it’s like a dog and it’s not. That is a dominance thing. When the horse starts nudging you and makes you move your feet, it’s telling you that you’re off balance, and that you don’t have a boundary.
Lisa Linfield: 14:45 That is fascinating. I’m definitely going nowhere near a horse soon.
Schelli W.: 14:49 Stop it.
Lisa Linfield: 14:53 That is unbelievable.
Schelli W.: 14:55 It takes courage to come and learn about yourself, and isn’t that what you’re asking women to do is to learn about themselves so that they can have good boundaries with their money.
Lisa Linfield: 15:04 Absolutely, and with themselves.
Schelli W.: 15:06 Exactly.
Lisa Linfield: 15:07 We don’t ask for what we’re worth, and we don’t have boundaries. The other day I was coaching a client, in actual fact, I had a couple of times in the last couple of weeks that are getting bigger jobs, and it’s wonderful. I love it when there’s these phases where everyone’s getting bigger jobs, but not one of them instinctively asked for a salary raise.
Schelli W.: 15:28 Oh my gosh.
Lisa Linfield: 15:29 Not one, and let’s use multiple clients. They all naturally went, oh my goodness, aren’t I so lucky to be recognized and to be given more responsibility? A man would go work equals money equals work circle, and they’d go more work equals more money. The first thing they’re going to ask for is a raise. So it’s just been fascinating watching this go in a conversation I’m having with myself on self worth, and not asking for what we’re worth. Now here was the flip side of people getting more, but not even naturally metric that work for money. You know?
Schelli W.: 16:04 There’s the perfect example of them saying yes to more responsibility and more work, and yet not expecting to be compensated or remunerated for the value that they’re offering.
Lisa Linfield: 16:17 Absolutely, because you can jump into my boundaries. So you can just squish my personal time, and you can squish all of that for nothing in return. So I think the horses would have a field day in this instant.
Schelli W.: 16:29 Well, like you said, do people see results the first time? Absolutely. Even if that’s the only thing you walked away with, there’s so much more. I mean it can go on and on, but if that’s the only thing you walked away with, that would be life changing. That is a transformational learning right there of how to just hold a boundary, and ask for what you’re worth without fear of sometimes you might have to ask more than once. That’s okay. Just ask. What’s the difference if somebody says no, you’re still in the same place.
Lisa Linfield: 17:08 Yeah, you actually have nothing to lose.
Schelli W.: 17:10 Exactly, there’s nothing to lose.
Lisa Linfield: 17:13 I guess one of the great things is that if you have that learning and that experience with a horse, as you say you’re physically embodying it. So it’s not just like an aha sitting on the couch, it is a physical embodiment of practicing that in actual fact, you and the horse will get on far better if you have your space and they have their space. Then you can kind of dance with the horse, but the first thing is the creation of boundaries.
Schelli W.: 17:41 Exactly it. You will dance. You absolutely will, and I like the way you say it better, you will dance with the horse. Absolutely, and it becomes and I think of it as a dance of mutual respect, because the horse is respecting you and you are respecting the horse. You’re learning to read it’s body language, it’s reading your energy and you start to go back and forth. Sometimes snippets of that will happen the first few times you’re with the horse even in one day, but for people who continue to come back and have multiple sessions and multiple experiences, they become very adept at it. As they transfer that into their real life, they become master communicators because they trust themselves, and they trust what they feel. They become really good at leading a room, because they learn how to read it. The people there, they’re able to help the people who are with them feel empowered and appreciated for who they are, and they recognize their individual gifts and talents as contributing to the whole. That’s a healthy herd.
Lisa Linfield: 18:54 Why have we lost that ability to do it?
Schelli W.: 19:00 Isn’t that the million dollar question? I mean, well here I have some theories about social conditioning over millennia, and I don’t mean this in a way to bash men at all. I love men. I’ve got wonderful male role models in relationships, but in our lifetime and several thousand years before us, it’s been a very patriarchal society and a pyramidical, where it’s the people at the top rule and everybody else gets by, or does what they have to do to serve the top. I think that is changing, and it’s one of the reasons why women are becoming so much more conscientious about their role and their contributions, and they want to be compensated. They just don’t have the practice of asking for and receiving. I think it’s a wonderful wave that we’re witnessing now, and women don’t have the DNA to recognize that when more responsibility is being required of you, then a man would automatically request more compensation. Not only what he requested, he would demand it. He would expect it, he wouldn’t do the job without it.
Lisa Linfield: 20:21 Why is it important for us to get better at reading emotions and reading the room as such, rather than just relying on our brains and our logic like we have been doing? Why do we need to get in touch with all of this to make us a better leader?
Schelli W.: 20:39 That’s such a good question. Why? For me, when I look around the world and I see the old leadership styles crumbling, it’s because they are tightfisted in the way things are done. When you can be in touch with your intuition and your emotions, when you can have some emotional agility. What I mean by that, it doesn’t mean you’re all mushy. It means that you notice when you feel something, and you recognize that those feelings are information, and you can apply that information to real time. To what’s happening right now in the moment, as opposed to pushing it aside and saying, well, that’s not the way it’s been done, or I’m supposed to feel a certain way because that’s what I’m told I’m supposed to feel. If that’s the case, then you’re incongruent. Your question is such a big existential question. It’s not like I have the answer to all of that, but I do believe in a rapidly changing society that we need to remain agile, and to follow our impulses towards what would feel healthy and good as opposed to what’s the instant fix.
I believe women are more in tune that way, that I think we look for those things instinctually. Yet our structure that we are stepping into or actually maybe even blowing apart, is different than that. So we’re having to figure out how to navigate inside of this structure that was already there when we arrived in the world of commerce, and yet adapt and maintain our own integrity and our own intuitive superpowers and creativity.
Lisa Linfield: 22:25 What is the science showing? What developments in science and what we know about the body responding, or maybe even explaining what has happened for many centuries.
Schelli W.: 22:37 Yeah, okay. So there’s an organization that I imagine many of your listeners are familiar with called The Institute of HeartMath. They literally study the intelligence of the heart, and that the heart is an organ of perception, which I love and it’s all about love. Our bodies are literally made up of electrical impulses. Every cell in our body is made up of electrons and neutrons. Electrons are electrical impulses. Well in our hearts, if we just took the heart in one hand and the brain in another hand, the heart has an electromagnetic field that is 5,000 times greater than that of the brain. So if you think about that, your heart is receiving electrical impulses. It’s receiving information long before your brain does.
In the world of emotions and sensitivity, this gives us an opportunity to check in with our heart and allow that information to inform our brain. In the logical society, it happens the other way around. We force our logic onto our heart, even if it’s not congruent. Even if the heart feels otherwise, because it knows something the brain does not. This is something the horses teach us, because this is how they feel us. They feel us from that bigger electromagnetic field.
Lisa Linfield: 24:14 So they feel our heart electromagnetic field. They can’t logically interact with us, because we’re not communicating with our brain.
Schelli W.: 24:22 Exactly. So when our brain is in opposition to our heart, then we’re not congruent. We call it the head, heart and gut alignment because then you get to your gut where you have all kinds of neurons and ability to feel things. You’ve heard someone say, well, I just had this gut instinct and it’s also where our impulsion comes from when we’re in action, and it’s impulsive or instinctual. Like if you were helping somebody that was falling over a cliff, and you reached out and you grab them and you’re pulling them back, you would literally be acting from your gut because you’re not thinking about it. You’re not really feeling anything. You’re in action. Our head is logical, our heart is instinctual, and then our gut is the action. When you start getting those in alignment, that’s when you’re like in the zone. I call that wholeheartedness. When your whole body is feeling and thinking and doing in alignment, that’s when you’re super effective.
Lisa Linfield: 25:23 For those of us who might not have any access to equine assisted coaching anywhere near us, what would be the biggest learnings that we should take from what you’ve learned about the horses?
Schelli W.: 25:36 Yeah. How can you apply this is number one is to breathe. Just really breathe in the moment, if you feel yourself getting anxious or uncertain. So the way horses deal with uncertainty is they move through it, and it’s an opportunity to start to move through uncertainty with curiosity, trusting your own instincts, starting to pay attention to your feelings. That doesn’t mean you let your feelings just take you down. Some people fear their feelings, because they’re afraid if they start opening up, they might just cry the rest of their lives because they have so much they’ve been holding back, or not acknowledging because they felt it was wrong or less than, or only weak people would behave that way. So we let our past experiences build up, when horses only live in the moment. So something else to recognize is those feelings of unworthiness, or not being enough, or maybe you didn’t achieve something that you thought you were supposed to so you feel inadequate.
All those feelings exist in the past and when you live in the moment, those feelings don’t actually exist. They can’t, they’re not here. Those instances don’t exist anymore. You can recognize you have the feeling, and then pay attention to what wants to happen right now. The way I do that, anytime you’re going through a really tough time and all of us have had traumas or heartbreaks or bankruptcies, or any kind of trauma in our lives, deaths, you become acutely aware of the present moment because that’s all there is. A horse doesn’t think about all the things that have happened to it in its past, and they’re not thinking about all the possibilities that might happen to it in the future. They’re just grazing, they’re just interacting with what is, they’re at peace. When something arises, they respond. They deal with that in the moment. When it’s over, they go back to grazing.
So if there’s any way to take this conversation forward is to just ask yourself, what’s happening right now? What’s the best response? Then let it go. Go back to grazing, go back to doing what’s important, what needs to happen next and let it go.
Lisa Linfield: 28:09 We waste so much time dwelling on the past.
Schelli W.: 28:12 Yes, we do.
Lisa Linfield: 28:14 A second part of your business, you both have the coaching and the leadership perspective for clients, but you’re also hugely involved in your industry. In raising up and teaching, and supporting building the businesses of many equine assistant coaches.
Schelli W.: 28:30 Yes, I have a passion to make this modality of learning and professional development as popular as yoga and Starbucks.
Lisa Linfield: 28:39 I love that.
Schelli W.: 28:40 I want people to understand that this isn’t just a quirky little side thing that might be fun to do, that it’s actually incredibly impactful and powerful. The best way I can think to do that is to empower other practitioners to reach the people in their areas and provide service, whether it’s for teams and businesses, or it’s for women transitioning from motherhood to a new career, whatever it is. People who work with children with disabilities, or people who work with … I’ve got one woman who, her clientele is women who are fabulous women over 40 and divorced. That’s her niche, and she’s got a really awesome program that empowers women who have gone through divorce to get back up on their feet and feel great about themselves. She does this through her horse coaching program.
Just like any kind of coaching or any kind of personal development, you can add the work with horses very strategically. Like we’ve talked before, one of the things I found is that women are the overwhelming majority who are attracted to this work.
Lisa Linfield: 30:00 Why is that?
Schelli W.: 30:02 Yeah, I think it’s because we recognize that this is just my theory, but I think it’s because they recognize the intuitive nature of horses, and we have such an intuitive nature that has been not celebrated as much in our collective history. That when they start working with the horses, they realize not only should it be celebrated, but it’s necessary and it’s healthy and we want to share that with others.
Lisa Linfield: 30:36 Maybe the converse is that in men, it’s been squashed out.
Schelli W.: 30:39 That too.
Lisa Linfield: 30:41 Is that we were-
Schelli W.: 30:43 It’s really exciting when men come and start to open up to this, and realize that they don’t have to lead by dominance. They can lead through cooperation and shared leadership, and it’s actually more fun and not as scary for them too.
Lisa Linfield: 30:58 What are some of the skills that you teach the women that you are training to be equine coaches?
Schelli W.: 31:05 Right, so I used to train them to become equine assistant coaches, and talk coaching and facilitation, but now I work with people who have already been trained and are already working with horses, and I help them create a business. What I have discovered over the many years is that most women who are attracted to this work, it’s generally a second phase of life for them. They’ve either been in a corporate world or they’ve worked in another kind of job, and they’ve never been an entrepreneur. They don’t understand how to start a business or to brand themselves, or to design their business to serve an ideal client. Who are they most qualified to serve? It’s one thing to be able to facilitate an experience, but to actually serve a clientele with a very specific need that they want to have resolved, that’s a whole different approach, and they’ve never been taught how to do that or how to bring their own skills and talents. It’s remarkable that they might have these incredible histories and abilities, and skills and talents that they don’t even realize are applicable to their new work with the horses.
Lisa Linfield: 32:23 That’s so often the case. When I coach my course, the side hustle where I teach people about building a business and branding and building trust by all of that stuff, we set off with the whole thing of what is your superpower, because essentially it doesn’t matter what you sell or what you do or what your service is. The minute you synchronize that with your superpower, you’re only going to have the base version of whatever it is. So if you have a superpower or experience, or history or talent in as you say, over 40s that are divorced, then you can build a fantastic equine coaching business. You could also build a fantastic whatever else, but superpower in together with your product or service, that is what makes you go from good to great.
Schelli W.: 33:15 Yes, exactly. Exactly. Unfortunately as they go through their training and they recognize, oh my gosh, I have this superpower to work with the horses and it’s good for everybody, and I’ve said this a gazillion times and will continue to say it. If you’re talking to everybody, nobody is listening.
Lisa Linfield: 33:34 Absolutely. The number one key of marketing.
Schelli W.: 33:36 Right, and the opportunity is like you just said, what is it that you know you have a passion for that you want to help people through resolving. Maybe you’ve experienced it yourself, or you just have a great knowledge of it and/or you’re learning it yourself, which most of us are. Then the horses are, I’m not saying they’re not incredible and wonderful and unique, but they are a modality. I have a book called The Business of Coaching with Horses, particularly written for practitioners on building a business. In the book I say you can’t ask the horse to sell your program for you. The horse is a feature of how you help people, not the thing.
Lisa Linfield: 34:27 I find that so often with creatives or talented people is that they forget the sales and marketing. People have to know about you, they have to like and they have to trust you before they’re going to buy your service. If you’ve never told anybody about you, you can open an equine assisted coaching practice or you can sell scarves and beanies. It doesn’t matter what it is, but if nobody knows about you, and you will foster that trust a lot easier if you can find a niche that is absolutely aligned with your experiences or superpower.
Schelli W.: 35:03 Exactly. We are totally speaking the same language, yeah.
Lisa Linfield: 35:07 It’s amazing. I mean when I talk to people, these things are common. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in. So whether it’s me and my business, you and your business, anybody starting up anything, the concepts are the same and more often than not the fears are the same.
Schelli W.: 35:22 Absolutely. Do you know who Alex Mandossian is?
Lisa Linfield: 35:26 No.
Schelli W.: 35:27 He’s a marketing guru, been around a long time. He says to consider your market an inch wide and a mile deep. That you become the expert, or it’s what you’re passionate about, what you’re knowledgeable about and then you can help them go deeper or higher. Even if it looks like you’re going wide or you’re really just serving the same group, you’re taking them to the next level without having to spread yourself out so thin.
Lisa Linfield: 36:00 Absolutely, and also that it just makes people in that niche know that you’re the go-to person for that, as opposed to trying to tell six billion people you’re the go-to person for something.
Schelli W.: 36:11 Exactly. The other wonderful thing that I think is a great benefit of being specific about who you serve and what you do for them is it makes it easier for other people to refer to you, because they know what you do. They may not be looking for what you say you offer or what you are offering, but they know someone who is.
Lisa Linfield: 36:33 Yes, absolutely. It does help to have word of mouth referrals all the time.
Schelli W.: 36:38 Yeah.
Lisa Linfield: 36:40 In the work that you’ve done, both personal coaching, coaching the business owners that you’re coaching and working with the horses, what do you believe is the greatest insight you can share with us on why there is so much insecurity about money with women?
Schelli W.: 36:57 Yeah. I go there with every one of my clients, these practitioners. We have to talk about money, because I don’t know how much to charge. I’m like, well a lot of it comes from just confidence. When you have more confidence about what you do and the value of what you offer, it’s easier to ask for money. Even before that, I believe there’s just the social conditioning. We grow up with all of the cliches, money doesn’t grow on trees and you have to work hard for your money. In my family, rich people were bastards. It was just assumed that rich people got their money on the backs of others, and that’s the other piece I wanted to address is again in our history that we can wrap our minds around in our lives for millennia, rich people were the ruling class. Those who weren’t rich were either slaves or serves, or they were the working class. They were the ones who were just getting by and so therefore, there was a lot of resentment around money.
Even in the Bible, there’s only like one or two stories about anybody of wealth who was kind, like the Good Samaritan. Other than that, it was trying to escape oppressive rule or slavery. So we associate women in particular I believe, associate money with a kind of power that is oppressive. I find that a lot of women are very adverse to even the word power. They don’t want to be seen as powerful, because they think that means they are oppressive and that’s what they all want to escape from is that feeling of oppressiveness.
Lisa Linfield: 38:47 I recently chatted with one of my podcast guests about this whole thing of identity, and one of the challenges being surfacing those assumptions we make. Because our subconscious is so strong that these historical forms of identity, or stories passed to us, as you say, either through Bible stories or through history or through whatever it is that we’ve been through, the stories of our parents and grandparents. These stories shape our identity, and then our identity shapes the way we think and our subconscious. The problem comes is that then you have someone like me telling them to behave differently, that money is literally a means to an end to give you the life you want to live, and to remove worry and strain from your life, but you have a story going on deep in your subconscious that money is bad, and your behavior will never be reflective of what you want it to reflect if your subconscious is thinking it’s bad. It doesn’t matter what you do, you’re going to be at odds with yourself. The horses would say you’re being in congruent, you know?
Schelli W.: 39:59 Correct.
Lisa Linfield: 40:00 It’s been a recent shift in me in this, the power of your identity and your ability to make lasting change is that as in your words, if you’re tammy and your heart and your brain aren’t in sync, you’re never going to be able to make lasting change, because your behavior that stems from all of that is going to be all over the place. You’re going to tell yourself this week, I must take care of my money and I must learn about it, and I must find a way to get myself economically active and financially free. As much as you tell yourself, it’s like telling yourself to go on diet. You can maintain it for a short period of time, but until it becomes your identity and really get congruence between your head and your heart and your gut, you will always end up reverting back to the stronger force inside you, which is your subconscious identity or your gut and your heart.
There are so many assumptions that we make that we never even question. We assume money is evil. Money is abrasive or money is power that I don’t want, when actually if we were to stop and spend some time dissecting that, then you would find that your identity is strongly rooted in that, and you will never change your behavior until you change your identity.
Schelli W.: 41:22 Right. Money can only reflect the energy you project onto it. It’s currency. It’s an energy of exchange, right? It’s a tool. We use money for the exchange of goods and services. Whatever we subconsciously believe is what we project onto it and therefore, it becomes our experience of it. So we see evidence of money being used in corrupt ways, and/or perhaps we experience a lack, or we experience being ripped off or some kind of things happening to us that involve money that appear to be outside of our fault or our power. It’s actually our belief system that organizes the experiences around us, that we are absolutely unconscious of.
That’s one of the beauty is around doing experiential learning, coming to work with horses in a way to help you to recognize your default behavior based on your subconscious, so that you can look at it. Once you become aware of it, you can change it. If you’re not aware of it, then any of your affirmations or things like that, it’s just like trying to layer icing on a cake that the heart of it isn’t what’s happening. I didn’t explain that very well, but I think you got it.
Lisa Linfield: 42:50 It’s like those [inaudible 00:42:50] wedding cakes in the shop window that this beautiful [inaudible 00:42:56], but there’s polystyrene inside it.
Schelli W.: 42:58 Thank you. Thank you. Beautiful. Yes.
Lisa Linfield: 43:03 If I came to you for money issues, how would that manifest with the horse?
Schelli W.: 43:08 Okay, so if we were working just one-on-one, even in a group, first of all we would talk a little bit about what is. Like what’s been presenting itself so that we could understand where you are, and then we’d have a conversation about how you would like it to be different. How do you want things to be different? Then I would invite you to work with the horse, and I don’t know exactly what we would do with the horse until we’re together. I call that being a little more organic when I’m working with people one-on-one, because it’s based on your comfort level with the horse and how you show up that day, and that will help also inform what horse we use and all of that. So that’s where the expertise of understanding your horses and horse behavior and perhaps what’s the best way to engage with the horse in a particular moment. The awareness that we are striving for is there may be an underlying belief, or a pattern of behavior that you’re not aware of that can be revealed in the experience of working with the horse.
Then we can take the opportunity to shift it right there in that moment, and see the horse shift and engage with you in a different way based on your new awareness and behavior. You’ll feel it in your body. That’s the cool thing is you’ll feel and you’ll see it. Now if we take that same topic and we’re working with a group of people, obviously we have to have a little different agenda with a group of people, and perhaps specific exercises. So the outcome is the same. I need to know where people are, what their beliefs are and where they want to go. Then again, we’ll work with the horses in a way that allows for the humans to get honest with themselves. Honesty can be joyous or it can be sad, or it can be anger. I don’t know what it’s going to be until it shows up, but the horse doesn’t care as long as it’s honest.
Lisa Linfield: 45:13 That’s amazing.
Schelli W.: 45:16 When you see that, when you experience it for yourself, then you know what it feels like. When you know what it feels like, then you can recreate it whether through meditation or an activity, or just some acknowledgement, breathing, writing, whatever it is you need to do to get back to that personal honesty and reprogram your subconscious, because your subconscious is going to be pissed when you first start acknowledging what you really want, and that you are powerful and that you have a right to wealth and prosperity and personal success and your own boundaries. When you start really feeling into that, your subconscious is going to fight you. That’s your ego saying, no you don’t. This is the way it’s always been done, and you need to keep doing it that way. You have to be diligent until you own it, until you become that person like you were just saying a few minutes ago.
Lisa Linfield: 46:23 I wish that you were nearby, and then I would come and live the experience of doing equine assisted coaching. I think any experience that involves all of your senses and your whole being physical, is always going to have far more power than just talking about it or thinking about it by yourself, because it’s your whole body. Not only is your whole body is that there is an instant feedback mechanism through the behavior and responses of the horse. With all forms of learning and trying, there’s a moment of feedback which is you’ve got it right or you’ve got it wrong, or you’re still out of alignment even though you think you’re doing it fine, but actually you’re still not congruent. There’s still stuff there. Schelli, how do people get hold of you? Where would they learn more and how would they get to understand more about what it is that you do?
Schelli W.: 47:15 Well thank you for asking. The best way to reach me is my website, and that’s schelliwhitehouse, and Schelli is spelled S-C-H-E-L-L-I whitehouse, just like it sounds, So is my website, or Facebook Schelli Whitehouse. My business page on Facebook is The Equine Inspired Life. You know what? Lisa, let’s just find some horses in your area and I’ll come there.
Lisa Linfield: 47:46 Yes, sounds perfect.
Schelli W.: 47:47 We’ll do a workshop. I’m also going to share your work in this podcast with my tribe of horsewomen, and there may be some people in your area that we can share underneath this podcast at some point, or I can get you some more information of people in your area that are working with the horses, and we can spread the love.
Lisa Linfield: 48:11 Well that’d be wonderful. Schelli, as more than 70% of our listeners are actually in America, I’m sure that they will through your presence be able to locate someone near them. For those in South Africa, we’ll definitely do some research and look at our show notes and see if we can locate some people in your area too. So thank you so much, Schelli, for your time. I really appreciate it.
Schelli W.: 48:30 Fantastic. Thank you. So enjoyed speaking with you.
Lisa Linfield: 48:34 That was Schelli Whitehouse. I have to say that for many weeks after my interview with Schelli and my preparation with Schelli, I thought so much about our conversations. She’s a deeply enlightened person, who seems to be able to just have that great combination of huge intelligence as well as a gift for being able to integrate the sensory with what she does. One of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about was I believe that as human beings, we do have a deep level of being a sentient being, of being like horses. We might’ve lost it over time, but somehow we just know. I remember saying to someone, if the whole company knows something about me that I don’t, why don’t you just let me know? Just tell me, enlighten me. I’ve thought often about what would a horse read my energy as being, how would a horse react and respond to me? What would it show them?
The reality is I know what it would show them, because I know deep inside me the insecurities I have when I’m not at peace with myself. I often think of myself and I’ll catch myself thinking, “Oh goodness, if a horse was to be with me now what would they say?” It’s been a fantastic thinking, because I actually think that that’s us as humans is that we try to wear a mask. We try to wear a mask of bravery, of being in control, of having it all sorted, but yet actually everybody knows. It was like what I said in my podcast on identity is that we actually do seem to sense when someone is feeling at peace with themselves, and when someone isn’t. What she said about the fact that the electromagnetic field of the heart is 5,000 times stronger than that of the brain, and that’s what gives us that ability to sense what’s happening in other people’s hearts, is that it puts even more importance on each of us doing the work to really feel comfortable in our own skins, and to feel comfortable with other people.
So I really support her on her journey of wanting to make equine therapy like a yoga and Starbucks, a common place and practice for people to go to really get a deeper sense of themselves, and just the awareness that the horse would bring. So one day when I’m near Schelli, I’m absolutely going to be stopping in for a session with her and her horses. Take care and have a great week. I’m Lisa Linfield, and this is Working Women’s Wealth.