Women Who Run with the Wolves (article by Ken Milling)

In her book Women Who Run with the Wolves Jungian psychoanalyst and award winning poet, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, focuses on the challenges faced by women in asserting themselves in their work and private lives.

The aim of the Integral Development assertiveness workshop is to move beyond the social level of interaction to further develop instinctual self-confidence that can enrich feminine power. One of the essential areas of focus in the workshop is aggression and one of the first steps is to investigate and recognise how each participant manages the aggression of themselves and others. A key question that participants are encouraged to answer in the workshop is “Are you able to facilitate constructive workplace outcomes when conflict is manifest either covertly or overtly and particularly when the conflict is aggressive?”

I first developed an interest in this area when over ten years I taught self-defence to females and noted a broad range of reaction to a number of physical exercises, such as the striking of focus mitts with as much aggression as possible. I also noted that this was an easier task for some than others, but that the vast majority of females reported feeling enlivened and empowered by the exercises. This led to an essential recognition that aggression is not the exclusive domain of males.

It is not unusual for aggression to be perceived as negative or undesirable, thereby repressing aggressive impulses, which leads to increased internal emotional tension. We are then much more likely to fall victim to our own deeper psychological states and suffer discomfort from our feelings and thoughts. This in turn can trigger an emotional/behavioural reaction. And with emotional/behavioural reaction the outcome will often be destructive as we override rationale.

I prefer to perceive feeling states not as positive or negative, but as a source of energy to potentially fuel constructive action. The key to greater personal choice in constructive action resides in an increased sense of consciousness of our personal psychological processes and our ability to access the energy source that is inextricably linked to feeling states. When we consciously harness that energy we can potentially facilitate a process of psychological transformation.

Many women can over-identify with the care giving role and disavow deeper feelings that might conflict with this. I believe that conscious engagement with aggressive drives can be used to fuel constructive action and open the path to a sense of personal empowerment.

Ken Milling
Executive Coach

Q&A: An Interview with Ken Milling

1. Describe your key strengths and personality as a consultant

As an executive coach, one of my key strengths comes partly from my experience as a psychotherapist working with a diverse range of people and issues. Where possible I like to facilitate an area of focus that is meaningful for the client, rather than present a prescriptive agenda informed by my personal perspective. I take a collaborative approach to coaching and believe that when the client has a sense of being supported by the coach the more difficult issues can be engaged with. Another of my strengths is that I enjoy the ongoing commitment to professional development that my work demands.

2. What’s your most memorable moment or workshop you’ve conducted and why?

I recently participated in an intensive management course where my role was to observe two participants over three days, then provide constructive feedback on their leadership ability and facilitate their development in specific areas of this. I enjoyed working with the Integral Development team in a pressured environment that stretched our own skills and, most importantly, the participants reported gaining a great deal from the three days, saying that they left feeling energised and ‘renewed’. For me, it was really gratifying to receive favourable feedback on the workshop.

3. Where do you see Integral Development in 5 years time?

Although Australia is in a relatively strong position in the current global economic downturn, there is no denying that into the future the state of the global economy will continue to affect us all by degree. It is essential that companies focus on developing their management teams and workforce to remain at the cutting edge of productivity and leadership. This is where Integral Development comes to the fore, with a group of professionals who are individually as committed to their own personal and professional development as they are to that of their clients. As a team we genuinely believe in making constructive contributions to our client companies and organisations. In five years I see Integral Development continuing as a well respected management company in great demand. In my view, our only limiting factor, albeit constructive, is our focus on quality rather than quantity.

4. If you could invite 5 people to dinner, who would they be?

I would invite ‘superchef’ Gordon Ramsey to prepare the meal, thus providing entertainment along with the food, and my guests would include His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the 44th President of the United States Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, and my wife Bev!

5. Who is a leader that inspires you and why?

I can think of a number, but currently it is Barack Obama who appears to be performing well under enormous pressure, having inherited a collapsing US economy, the extremely complex circumstances of international conflicts, and a nation that has long laboured under the burden of ‘poor PR’. I trust that he will bring to his administration integrity that goes beyond ‘next election rhetoric’ and that he will lead the way to international goodwill with his policies and approach. I believe that we can all contribute to this by broadening our perspectives and positive expectations.

6. If you were stranded on a desert island, what two items and one book would you like with you?

If I was stranded tomorrow, I would like with me a satellite phone with which I could assuredly place a call to my rescuers once I had finished the contents of a gourmet survival pack and the book The Brain That Changes Itself by Dr Norman Doidge!