02/21/2011 02:24 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Are You Too Comfortable with Being Comfortable?

Have you ever had a horse sit on your head? I have -- not intentionally, of course.

It was one of those moments that sort of creeps up on you when you are so focused on the task at hand that you don't realize that you have a huge 1200-pound pressure on your head until the discomfort you are feeling gets so uncomfortable that it brings you back to the rest of reality. Has this ever happened to you?

How did a horse sit on my head? Well, that's actually not the point here, but I'll digress for just a minute so I can get your full attention on what the point is. I am an experiential learner. I thrive in the experiential learning arena (no pun intended). I found that some of my best teachers are not human. They are horses.

Horses are prey animals, and, unlike most humans, they are not afraid to shed a very clear light on where we humans hide. I like to be my best, so that's a place that I want to see -- right away, and very clearly. So, I took myself off to immerse in horses and what they had to teach me. I never looked back... which is perhaps one reason I did not see the horse that decided to use my head as a seat cushion.

Which brings us nicely back to the point at hand.

My friend Gary Hook, former Director of Editorial Operations at USA Today, said it best to me, as we were musing over a chai in the local breakfast eatery the other day. He was sharing a bit about his transition from his 25-plus year career at the paper. I asked him what caused him to step forward out of "what was" to "what is." He said, "I asked myself a question: 'Have I become comfortable with comfortable, no matter how uncomfortable comfortable has become?' When I answered, 'Yes,' I knew it was time to do something about it."

My point exactly.

How long was I willing to have a horse sit on my head before I did something about it?

Now many of you may answer, "Well, if a horse was sitting on my head I would do something about it immediately." I ask you to take pause for just a minute and reflect on the last time you "woke up" in the middle of a song that you hate and wondered how long you had been listening to it and why; or somehow found yourself at your destination, with no idea of how you got there; or been halfway through a book, and realized you had no idea what you had just read.

You get the point, right?

The point is that many of us are operating in default mode on a daily basis. We're on automatic pilot. We are so overwhelmed with information and requests for information we shut down and go on cruise control. This makes it very easy for a horse -- or anything else, for that matter -- to mistake us for something other than what we are. Like a perch.

The evidence of how incapacitating this can be shows up with laser-like clarity when the reality we live in changes. All of a sudden, that 1200-pound weight we somehow let sit on our heads prevents us from the agility needed to respond to the situation at hand.

You forget you are wired for success.

Let that sink in for a minute.

The wiring I am referring to is your instinctual intelligence system. When you "wake up" with the realization that a horse is sitting on your head, or your own version of that, the only thing that will move you to safety is your instincts -- not your boss, not your parents and not your spouse. The only thing that gets you out of an unsafe situation every single time is you. The greater your tolerance for the status quo, the greater you risk getting hurt. The greater your agility in the unexpected, the faster you move to a place of safety.

So your best bet in times of turbulence is to tap into what is instinctual in you, to listen to your own internal GPS and trust it like crazy.

Take a look at some of the silly head games you play to keep yourself "entertained" instead of engaged. Have you convinced yourself that the horse on your head is really a balloon animal? I've got a list of some of the favorite head games people play, and I am happy to send them to you if you want to take a look and see if you recognize yourself in any of them. Send an e-mail to me at and put "Please Send Me the Silly Head Games We Play" in the subject line, and I will. Or post some of your all-time favorite head games you love to play with yourself below. I'd love to hear about them. You never know -- they could end up in my next Silly Head Game series.

When you're ready to find the truth hiding in plain sight, you're ready to navigate the unexpected. It seems the question at hand then is not, "Am I able?" but rather, "Am I ready?"


Lisa Arie can be reached at Visit for more information.