A Punching Bag in Your Leadership Toolkit?

A couple of weeks ago I travelled to Montreal to do some intensive sessions with a practitioner who uses somatic (body) approaches in her coaching/therapy to help her clients be radically alive. I was excited and scared.  For someone like me who has often relied on my brain to look smart and stay safe, I knew I would be challenged to drop my defences and sink into my body.

Quote: “When you can learn to engage powerful feelings without the need to control or tame them, that is radical aliveness.” Ann Bradney, Founder, Radical Aliveness Institute

Sure enough, when Josée gave me a soft bat (called a bataka) and invited me to pound repeatedly on a big cube while saying what I was angry about, I could do it, but only to a point. As soon as my brain chatter got loud with: If I keep doing this, I am going to look really stupid/lose control/be humiliated, I would stop the physical actions. At one point, we did something similar with boxing gloves.

For me, stopping was a control strategy: If I stop now, I can still look smart. If I stop now, I can stay back from the edge of what might come up. And while this strategy has seemed to keep me safe in life, it can also prevent me from doing some pretty great things like bold business ventures, having fun, and letting myself get really angry, to name a few!

It just so happens that The Conscious Leadership Group is talking about control this week too. Their short quiz on control might stump you.  Take the test before you scroll below.  No cheating!

This ENTIRE list is of things we cannot control, try as we might:

Our thoughts
Our feelings
Our sensations
Other people’s emotions
Other people’s thoughts
Others actions towards their goals
How others take care of themselves
Other people’s choices
Rush hour traffic
The weather
Aging, illness, and death
Who likes us
Our past behaviour
Others people’s happiness
Climate change
How people will react to our creations
Other people’s interest in us
Others worrying about things and people
Others keeping their time agreements
Others’ reactivity
Other people gossiping
The behaviours and value of a company
Other people’s judgements of us
Our children’s behaviours
Customers buying our products/services

Despite not being ready to pound the shit out of that cube in Montreal, I still had a breakthrough: I fear that if I am not in control, I will be humiliated.

I wish I could tell you that my breakthrough means that I am cured of my need to control to feel safe. I cannot.  

I can tell you this “waking up” is a journey that’s helping me drop some armour. Some of my relationships are growing deeper.  Some of my relationships may fall to the side. And I am willing to take some bigger and bigger risks to live a life that has impact.

What about you?

Our year-long Where It Changes! Conscious Leadership Forum starts in September 2019 in PEI with the first of four overnight retreats. We’ll slow down to take a strategic time out together. No punching bags but great colleagues, beautiful nature and lots of experiential learning for a profound and playful journey together to grow our lives and leadership. Save your spot by August 9th.


  1. Terri on June 12, 2019 at 8:33 am

    Bravo Lisa! Thank you for your courage in sharing this part of you. You are doing good work and we are benefiting!

  2. Jen on June 15, 2019 at 11:04 am

    Love your posts Lisa!

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