Sheep at last! On Linda Goes Back to School – Day Two p.m.

If you like your food, check out the lunch, otherwise skip to the sheep…

I’m not a huge foodie but it seemed a long time since breakfast (not particularly enjoyable while you’re ‘networking’ between and around mouthfuls of food – my old headmistress would have been aghast!)

My stomach was also still complaining something rotten about its treatment the previous day so to see that lunch was buffet style with choices of

  • Hot white fish in a mild sauce so managed to remain moist
  • Tuna (the tinned variety but that was fine)
  • Prawns (amongst my favourites!)
  • A good selection of salads – not just cucumber, tomato and lettuce!
  • Rice and potatoes
  • Cheeses, eggs
  • A spread of hot and cold meat and chicken that I kind of skipped over that as I don’t eat any of it
  • Starters and sweets/ desserts – again I didn’t really look

All this made me a very happy bunny: Suffice to say I realised I could stoke up on a good lunch and not worry if I ended up just picking at dinner.

It had also obviously been decreed somewhere ‘up the chain of command’, i.e. Warren, I guess, that lunch time was to be a free choice zone with sit where and with whom you like and no mandatory networking… phew!

Okay – The Sheep Bit

Just before lunch Warren had divided the delegates into three groups of roughly equal size – I was in Group 1 which was to be: Sheep first… So off our group went to the bar to meet Chris Farnsworth with his laptop, on which he had a clip of what looked like that TV programme – One Man and his Dog Competing in Sheep Trials…

Chris is a shepherd. He didn’t bring his dog with him but he had brought some sheep – they were the ones I’d seen grazing in the field on my speed walk earlier.

The sheep needed to be herded up, guided between a gated arrangement and put in a pen – and we motley lot were the first grown up ones to do it (the Inner Flame lot had already had a go in the morning).

I thought we were lucky that the weather was on our side and not chucking it down on us, as so easily can happen at any time in the UK, no matter the official season. I also thought we did reasonably well – and then Chris said we had to do it again, this time ‘against the clock’ with our time to be recorded against the other two Business Scene groups yet to have a go…

Again we did okay, in my opinion – we worked well together in order to get the job done, which we did without any mishaps! And, as we discovered later, in half the time of the group that followed us :-)

Sheep #2 – Just when we thought we were safe…

The sheep by now were, more or less happily, in their pen. But that wasn’t enough for Chris (I don’t know, he seemed such a nice guy earlier): He wanted us each to choose a sheep and ‘down’ it – now, before anybody goes yelling for the RSPCA or equivalent, this is a procedure, as Chris practises it, that not only does not harm the sheep, the animal in question looks positively like a contented couch potato once the manoeuvre has been successfully achieved!

It ends up sitting on the ground with its front hooves in a kind of begging position, upright and/or leaning against the legs of the human who’s ‘helped’ it get there.

Most of our group had a go – and successfully! I didn’t. To be perfectly honest I don’t know whether it was the

  • Push-cheek-back-against-the-shoulder prior to bottom-ending the animal on the ground manoeuvre – that looked painful and I wasn’t at all sure I could believe Chris that it wasn’t (unfounded though that was when you see the successful results)
  • Or, and this was a real concern – rather than fear – that, not really knowing what I was doing and being in the confined space of a pen with more than one unpredictable sheep, I’d move awkwardly and counteract the progress I’d been making with what had, at times, been an excruciatingly painful frozen shoulder

In the end I decided that discretion was the better point of valour – I ‘chickened out’ – yet when I saw my physio a couple of days later she looked at me as though I’d have been completely round the bend to have even contemplated it, so I didn’t feel such a wimp…

My own main Sheep Experience take outs

Maybe surprisingly, the most memorable are outside of the ones billed in Warren’s agenda, so let’s see…

Reinforcement of the power of being outside in nature!

It is so good to just get outside for a start – outside and away from paved streets and built up areas (if that’s possible for you) to somewhere with even a little bit of natural greenery or water is great.

I’d already begun to realise just how much being in a bit of ‘nature’ – in my case regular speed walks in London’s Regent’s Park since early summer (okay, let’s not take ‘summer’ too literally) – has a calming, ‘glad-to-be-alive’ and/ or grounding effect. It’s not the same (for me) as being able to see the sea, but it’s a good next-best.

Especially how combining animals enriches your experience

…and enhances the fun factor – bringing your dog(s) with you or just being aware of the natural wild or animal life around.

In Regent’s Park there are the swans, geese, nesting waterfowl at certain times of year, squirrels and birds of all sorts, and you can see giraffes by the Outer Circle, without going into the zoo.


Although, looking back later over the agenda, I saw that this was headlined: “Leadership: Lessons From Sheep???” I believe that learning and practicing teamwork-to-get-the-job-done was paramount in the first half of the sheep challenge.

We were a bunch of individuals, sole traders or leaders of (small) companies. It would be interesting to see what would happen in a corporate situation where, let’s say, a less-than-competent immediate ‘boss’ was being an absolute pr*t who was likely to make a bit of a dog’s ear of things – would the underlings subtly ignore and make good or rebel and make good or follow and fail? Hmmm – very good exercise!

Level of Difficulty
As I discovered talking with Chris later, once given the brief from the client, he selects the best sheep for the requirements:

  • Gentle, easy-going
  • Inquisitive, adventurous and headstrong
  • Downright mean and ornery
  • And any mixture…

It seemed such a shame to be going back inside after all this fun, but we were going to next learn how to get the best from LinkedIn membership – so “Stay tooned!” :-)

PS To catch up with earlier posts in this series:
Social Media, Networking and PR – Linda ‘Goes Back to School’ Day Two a.m.
Linda ‘Goes Back to School’ Day One

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9 Responses to “Sheep at last! On Linda Goes Back to School – Day Two p.m.”

  1. What fun Linda! Getting out into the fresh air and being in nature, so many benefits.

    I hadn’t come across leadership lessons from sheep before, and I have a delightful picture in my mind of you and the group tackling the herding. At least as a non-meat eater you were not tempted to yell ‘baaaaabecue’ at them to scare them into compliance…

    I did a ‘Leadership Lessons from horses’ (more or less Horse Whispering) training a few years ago, which remains one of the most inspiring and powerful experiences I have had about authentic leadership and the subtle messages we give off to animals (human and otherwise) which influence their behaviour :-).

  2. Ok, yum? That’s an awesome recipe. We saw some sheep at a historic farm recently and their “baaaas” were of every variety – low, high, and in between. I do believe they were working as a team…

  3. Hi Suze!
    Somehow I’d missed that post of yours earlier this year on BOTB – to be honest I’m with you, you don’t normally go sussing out an animal’s er, intimate parts when it’s trespassing and nicking your animals’ nosh!

    Yolanda – I’d not been that close to sheep before and really hadn’t contemplated what their thoughts might be… to me pigs seem to have more going for them in the personality stakes…

  4. Yolanda says:

    I love it, who’d have thunk sheep could be team building teachers!


  5. You were very lucky those sheep had been handpicked for their social skills – they aren’t always such woolly pushovers. I would respectfully refer you to this particular article on BirdsOnTheBlog, for an expansion on that point…. :-))

  6. Hi Sarah –

    You’re right – I think it would have stood out ever so slightly 😉
    The blue one was a dye job from another of Chris’ gigs – the colour is harmless – it’s the same dye they use for branding.

  7. Thanks for joining in the fun, Mary
    It was interesting to see how those sheep acted as a group and watched us inept human beings fan out whilst we were trying to ‘guide’ them into the pen – they were definitely on the look out for a gap – and, once spotted they’d have been straight though it.
    They were no way near as meek as ‘townies’ are led to believe – and heaven knows what Chris’ ornery ones are like! :-)

  8. Sarah Arrow says:

    I didn’t see that blue one on the field anywhere!

  9. Well, I’ve never learned from a sheep. But dogs have definitely formed a huge part in my education.

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"I was very impressed by Linda's determination to help and the constructive, but persistent, manner in which she identified issues and then tried to resolve them. After recent progress I was again reaching a stage where I seemed to be spinning my wheels, and she has given me fresh impetus to start moving forward again."