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  • Gita Matlock

Change is Like a Garden: How to Take Breakthrough into the New You


Over the past ten years, I’ve walked countless teams through a three-day strategic planning process that is all about creating internal alignment to accelerate external growth. It’s a process that I learned from business consultant Dana Hughes during my tenure at the humanitarian agency CARE. I adore and admire Dana, she is a gift to the world. The process is powerful. Teams walk away with alignment and commitment in all the ways leadership desires: organizational purpose, each other, and their role to fulfill the mission. Now, with the addition of equine assisted learning, this stage of the process is hitting all new levels of amazing for the people that I serve.


And yet, when it comes to creating lasting change, teams seem to fall out of step as time passes from the initial work. Most managers do not know how to take the incredible gift of internal alignment and turn it into measurable change.


What I now understand is that transformation happens in the tiny actions we take each and every day. As James Clear writes in his book Atomic Habits, “Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.” What I now know is that the breakthrough is a critical first step, but is not the last. Without the next steps, momentum is lost and things soon return to homeostasis.


Change is like a garden. Whether we are creating a new one or redesigning an existing garden, the initial change takes a big influx of energy. This first push requires vision, purpose, mission, and values, a clear picture of what our garden will become. This is the stage to till the soil, cut back and pull out what needs to go, and plant what you wish to flourish.


Without this breakthrough stage, the garden of your dreams has no chance. Yet, with all of this effort behind you, there is more. The garden doesn’t grow to its full potential without the essentials of time, care, and resources. It needs sunlight, water, soil, pruning, weeding, and even love. So to do our teams.


I now understand that the three-day strategic planning or leadership and teamwork equine workshops are absolutely essential. But it is the long-term support that will ensure change. Ongoing coaching for leaders is the space to take the newly planted garden and ensure that it will flourish long into the future, fulfilling its potential for the good of the company, its employees, and the community it serves.


This is the case on a personal level too. Truth is often simple and infinitely applicable, isn’t it? Whether the internal alignment is among colleagues or your own mental citizens, it is the essential first step toward success. But it is not the last. From there, it is the systems of your daily life that will make or break the fulfillment of your true potential.


Do you, as the leader of your life or your team, have the systems to support change? Do you have a place to explore the ongoing barriers, wins, and atomic habits that will grow your garden to its full potential?


Our work at Herd Spirit is transformation, helping people and teams to create the impact and the lives of their dreams. In this work, horses are incredible catalysts for the breakthrough and alignment on all levels. The ongoing coaching builds out the systems for success.


Breakthrough with us. Walk with us along your journey of transformation.


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