Unflappable Holy Cows – Lessons Learned

photo 3

photo 2I’ve been back from India for 10 days.  I went there to take a course called Ayurveda Mandala.  This is partly out of sheer personal interest for continuing to develop my health and wellness practices but also largely staying curious about the work I’ve been co-creating on The 5 Elements of Facilitation Design.  What keeps coming back to me is the amazing cows!  They were everywhere.  They are sacred in India.  In a sense, they rule the traffic laws and a lot of other things I’m sure I didn’t get to see.  I decided that they are unflappable because nothing seemed to bother them.  They knew they had a safe place and that people generally thought really well about them.  So my question is, what can we learn in facilitation and training about these unflappable cows?

First, I need to describe to you some amazing ways I saw them behave.  (Photo 2) They crossed the main pedestrian suspension bridge like everyone else and they knew basically that they had the right of way, even over the motorcycles who were also on the bridge.  (Photo 1, 3)  They sat and stood on the main roads.  In fact, they were sure of not being hit by traffic.  For example, if a car, taxi, or motorized rickshaw came barreling toward them with literally 1-2 cm distance between the cows head and the vehicle, they simply turned their head a mere 10 degrees so that their horns would not get touched as vehicles raced past.  How did they know how much leeway they had??


I’m thinking in facilitation that sometimes that may be all that’s needed.  We can turn our head a miniscule amount to achieve the course correction needed. Or, when the discussion supposedly gets off track, we simply need to turn our heads for a second and then turn them back to the original direction.  Anyhow, that’s my musings on unflappable holy cows!  I aspire to be like them in my daily life as well as in my facilitated groups – completely confident about my role in whatever space I am in, completely present enough to just turn my head the exact amount that is needed to let the “disruption pass”, and to boldly cross the bridge with everybody else.

I hope that I can keep giving you snippets of this amazing journey.  Pretty soon we’ll update you on our training and facilitation plans in 2014.  And surprise! We’ll have a brand new website with a lot of free resources and completely new look to our tools and techniques modules.  Stay tuned!

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Barbara MacKay

Barbara loves “everything facilitation”. She thinks BIG! She loves working with other facilitators around the globe to create transformational results for client groups. She loves teaching others how to do that. She loves presenting at global facilitator conferences. She loves certifying new professional facilitators. If you also love what process facilitation can do for the world, connect with her – virtually or in person. She believes facilitation processes, used well, will provide the roadmap to a more just and sustainable world.


  1. David E MacKay on December 17, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Interesting Observation!

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