Whether we are leading, labouring or just plain living, we are often blind to the subtle but powerful role our bodies play in helping us to be resourceful and resilient.

From time to time my colleagues and I get together with fellow ontological practitioners to share insights and best practices in our work. When we last met, we discussed a question often asked by clients: what has paying attention to our body got to do with leadership?

Most of us understand the importance of good nutrition, exercise and fitness, or body language in communication. But the ontological approach puts the body in a much more central position. Our body isn’t just a taxi for carrying around our brain. As Alan Sieler1 says, our body is “the vehicle of our being”. I may be mangling the taxi analogy a little, but your body is as much the driver and navigator of the taxi as your brain is your luggage.

The body plays an overt role in positioning and movement but it is also involved in perception, listening, thinking, speaking and feeling. “Our body is the only place from which we can act” says Sieler. Even thinking relies upon inner processes and our posture affects the flow and development of thoughts. In a recent article I described a few pieces of the growing research that demonstrates this interconnectedness between mind and body. Both somatic and emotional learning are felt experiencesand we can expand our capacity for personal development by adding to our rational, logical and analytical learning.

Typically we are unaware of habitual ways we use our body and may have developed suboptimal or even unhelpful ways of using our body that compromises our effectiveness or even wellbeing. Richard Strozzi-Heckler has spent a lifetime working with leaders in this domain. He says, “Somatics declares the human form as the space in which humans act, relate, think, feel, and express emotions and moods. In this interpretation, the body is the field in which we build trust and intimacy, produce meaningful work, create family, community, and teams.” Without being aware of what is going on, we can manifest to others as negative, insincere, untrustworthy and demotivating.

The ontological methodology provides very practical ways of doing something about this. Leaders can uncover habitual ways of being that are rigid or compressed, or identify postural configurations that contribute to frustration, vulnerability, anxiety or resignation. Leaders who are developing their physiological and postural fluency experience greater mental flexibility and can access more resourceful attitudes in their work. As embodied leaders they show up with greater competency and expanded potential. This ontological approach to personal development supports people to self-manage their thinking and their attitudes but to do this on a foundation built on their postural alignment.

As I have hinted here, the physiological domain is only part of the picture. Attitudes, thinking and mindset are also intricately wrapped in as well. These are addressed in the ontological domains of language and moods. In both of the two programmes shown below, we can take you through new and highly practical ways of applying…
Our body has an integral role in the way we engage with the world. Are you paying attention to how your body is serving you?

For Leaders, it is a pioneering new programme that distils many years of practical application of ontology with leaders in the region.

Ontological Leadership Programme
Date: August 23 – 25, 2018
Time: 9 am – 6 pm Daily
Location: Hong Kong
Fee:  (Standard) HK $14,000; (Early Bird) HK $12,000 extended for one more week

For coaches, learning and development professionals, the OCLiA programme has been run in the region for around 10 years.

Ontological Coaching and Leadership in Action (OCLiA) Programme
Date: November 1 -3, 2018
Time: 9 am – 6 pm Daily
Location: Hong Kong
Fee:  (Standard) HK $14,000; (Early Bird) HK $12,000 payable in full on or before 1 Oct 2018
ICF Approved Coach Education: This workshop is recognised by the International Coach Federation as 22.5 Continuing Coach Education Units (CCEU) in Core Coaching Competencies.
*If you know somebody who might be interested in joining our programmes, please forward this article to them.
1 The ideas in this article are explored in great depth by Alan Sieler, particularly in The Biological and Somatic Basis for Ontological Coaching which is Volume III in the series Coaching to the Human Soul, Ontological Coaching and Deep Change.