The number one leadership factor is:” “Calm is Contagious” says former Navy SEAL commander Rourke Davis.
Imagine that? Coming from a Navy SEAL – talking about leadership and he sounds like a neo-buddhist hippy.
Calm is Contagious – leadership advice.
Yesterday, a family came to the barn. The son is 18. He’s limited verbally and gifted physically. He loves riding horses, he loves waterskiing, swimming and snow skiing.
I was chatting with mom about their awesome ski trip while her son went with his favorite instructor grooming his horse. Mom and I were interrupted by her son yelling loudly and rushing toward us. His face was red and tears were running down both cheeks.
In hopes to help regulate her son, mom calmly showed him her phone with a visual schedule, she asked him to sit and we all did some simple breathing activities. After a few minutes, mom asked if he was ready to go back to his horse, he said yes and walked back to the horse.
A minute later, the same thing happened. He was seriously dis-regulated. His crying was real and he couldn’t tell us what was the matter. We asked him if he wanted to ride and he said he didn’t. We told mom to go and get her helmet and that she could ride instead. This both excited and terrified mom but she’s as game as they come – autism moms are a tough bunch.
I took her son to the arena and we played his favorite music. He was fond of a country song, particularly of one phrase from the ditty where the singer crooned “I’ve got to pull myself together.” He played it over and over and over. Behaviors are communication folks.
The music played.
“I’ve got to pull myself
Pull myself together” Over and over.
Mom was mounting the horse and like a lightning bolt, her son rushed at her, screaming, crying and reaching for her hair to pull. I knew I couldn’t make it there before him so I shouted “incoming” to give the instructor, mom and the horse a heads up.
Mom was able to get off the horse and got her son to sit on the ground and told him clearly that rushing the horse and grabbing her hair was not acceptable – ever.
We decided to sit quietly with him as he skimmed through his music selection with the horse still close. We talked about life, weather and horses. Mom brought the horse treats and we giggled at the horse’s lovely face.
We realized that the son was simply exhausted. The excitement of skiing, the drive home – it was a lot. He was not rested and therefore had no resilience available. Mom also had been up late with him and she, like mothers have always done, put her weariness on hold and handled the day. The best thing we could do was to offer a safe and quiet space for both.
Mom sent us a photo 20 minutes after leaving – her son sound asleep in the back of the car.
“Calm is contagious.”
Calm made the difference. Mom stayed safe, her son regulated. Calm is what turned a potential meltdown into a chance to find a space to rest. Calm kept the horse from reacting badly. Pedigree geeks in racing will note that the horse is a son of the mighty Fusiachi Pegasus, winner of the 2000 Kentucky Derby. He never wavered. Why? Because Calm is Contagious.
Calm is valued and cultivated here – it’s how we help each other.
Watch the best horsemen in the world, no matter what the discipline and there’s one uniting factor – Calm.
If we can help and support a tired autism family to cultivate calm – and find connection – we have served our community.
There you have it – what’s good for Navy SEALs, world class horsemen, neo-buddhist hippies and us – is Calm and luckily, it’s contagious.
Now I’m going to try to take my own advice, put on some mud boots and deal with a broken water pipe in a muddy horse corral.