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How energy moves us all.

Directive and Receptive Energy

September 23, 20225 min read

September 22, 2022 | Leadership

Are you more of a wallflower or a go-getter? Do you prefer to observe and reflect or act and energize? All of us have a default setting that falls along the scale of directive (alternative terminology: “Masculine”) and receptive or “Feminine” energy.  An important point to note: We ALL have BOTH within us, and there is no right or wrong answer, however; we should all take a moment and reflect: where to I typically fall?  How do I shift along that scale based on the situation? Who am I in a room full of strangers? When I start a new job? At home vs. at work? Who am I when I am leading or teaching a topic I am very experienced in or passionate about? Are they the same or different?

Take a look at this list, and ask yourself which item in each group of two do you resonate with more?





Remember…there’s no wrong answer! One is not positive and the other negative. We need BOTH. The key is to have both IN BALANCE and know how to shift along the continuum to fit the scenario. How much “fight” do we need in the moment and when is it time to switch to “flight” mode? When should we speak and when should we listen?

Horses are excellent teachers of knowing when to step forward and when to step back. When to lead and when to follow. When to speak and when to listen. They can fluidly shift based on the need.  

Learning the art of having the two in balance and recognizing when to shift and how much to shift is a muscle that needs exercise – it isn’t built overnight. However, the best way I feel you can jump start this process is in observation of horse behavior and listening to their ques on where we need to personally focus based on how they respond to our energy. We can then easily turn around and apply it to our work life and home life. 

grey horse

If you haven’t spent much time around horses – or maybe if you have and never really noticed – a clear indicator of when the energy is too high or too “directive” in nature is when the horses head is far above the withers or “shoulders” of the horse, and their ears and visual focus will be on what may have startled them such as this grey horse pictured here. This action can fall anywhere along the scale from heightened awareness and discernment all the way to panic and flight or shutting down and going numb.

When the horses is in a balanced and relaxed state, the poll or top of their head between their ears will align with the withers or top of their shoulder blade, and in most cases their ears and visual field will be focused to the sides for a wider observational area of focus as in the second image. This action can fall anywhere along the scale from relaxed observation of surroundings to little to no interest in the fact you are standing right there and practically falling asleep!

horse in stall

As we learn how to fluidly move along this scale, we can develop the "finesse" needed to respond and communicate from a place that aligns with the present and begins to shift towards our goal. Meaning: if someone is in an anxious state, we must be able to recognize this in another, check in with where we are energetically, observe how we may be contributing-or not- to the present environment and response, and then begin to help influence a shift for the anxious person to a calmer state in body language, breath, word choice, vocal tone, and energy.  

Conversely, if you are working on motivating a team towards a goal and wish to increase the excitement, momentum and create buy-in, you may need to increase your level of energy which will also result in a shift in your body language, breath, word choice, vocal tone, and overall energy level.  You will need to find a set point which motivates without overpowering, just like in the scenario with the anxious person where you needed to find a set point which brings them down with calm confidence - not with fear, frustration, anger or weakness. 

As we develop our skills as leaders we need to start first by paying attention to where our energy lies.  When you walk into a room does everyone tighten? Does their breathing get more shallow? Shoulders up and tense? Is their vision laser focused on you?

Or, does no one take notice? Does the conversation continue even when you ask for attention and focus (such as to start a meeting) as if they don't even hear you or see that you entered the room? Try this exercise with your friends, family and co-workers and see if there is a difference at home vs. at work as well.  Many of us find a distinct difference in how we show up in one environment over the other!

If you have access to horses, I strongly encourage you to keenly observe how they respond to your presence in their space.  If you don't have access to horses, I invite you to come pay me and the herd a visit, we are happy to help!

In good health,


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