What is Primal Leadership?

What is primal leadership?

Within each of us lives a primal intensity, hunger, physicality and power innate to our wild nature.  Simultaneously, our grace, softness, and deep well of curiosity and patience are another aspect of our primal self.

As primal leaders, we recognize the intelligence of nature that lives within and outside of us as an unparalleled primordial source from which we access vitality, life force, the power of nurturing and self-healing wisdom.

The primal leadership path is an invitation to integrate and descend from our heads into our hearts, and into the ground of our being. It’s a practice of embodying the fullest expression of who we are.

The wisdom revealed through the process of primal leadership is a heroic journey of re-wilding ourselves back home into our most undefended, compassionate, expansive and creative self.

Why Now?

In a world driven by increasing complexity and speed come more commitments and demands on our time and energy, causing overwhelm, burn out, and disconnection from our inner knowing.

Counter to this lightning speed of "doing" and busyness there abides a quiet presence of "being" within each one of us. When we connect with our inner stillness our wisdom is revealed like the blazing sun.

The absence of space and momentary pauses can lead to high reactivity states driven by autopilot behaviors that are often threat-based, causing division rather than unifying and creative solutions.

Primal leadership is about marrying the “doing” and the “being” parts of us so we can stay connected to ourselves and others, rather than operate primarily from autopilot or reactivity.

A primal leader holds a quality of presence, magnetism and inspiration that spark a fire of creativity and innovation in their relationships and environment.

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Understanding our cultural inheritance

We are wild creatures in a world that is often seeking to tame, shame and box us in. Our “cultural norms” have created order and control by exiling aspects of our primal nature and wildness.

This suppression and oppression has yielded a diminished trust in our own intuition and a heavy reliance on logic and reason. Relying on our intellect as our sole channel of wisdom has cut us off from the multi-dimensional nature of our brilliant primal power.

We’ve inherited a collective story of fear, judgments and shame that limit our potential. We’ve lost connection to an inherent trust that when we surrender, rest, and listen, the flow of all things will carry us.  

We cut, tear and shred the boxes that confine and suffocate us, which often live primarily on the inside now with reinforcing messages from our culture and societal norms.

The Subconscious Drives 80-90% of Our Behavior

80-90% of what we believe, say and feel is subconscious, which means that without further investigation,
our lives are run on autopilot.
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Our operating systems are organized like icebergs.  The tip above the waterline represents our conscious awareness, which equals 10-20%.  Below the waterline is our subconscious awareness, which equals 80-90%.

How do we become more aware of what's beneath the waterline? By becoming scuba divers and actively studying the subconscious material that drives the majority of how we operate in life. 

Areas of Study to Grow More Aware & Integrated:

A few common areas to study for quick insights and growth opportunities are how we relate to:

  • Inner Critic and Shame Patterns

  • differences with others

    • Do we judge and diminish our experience when it differs from others? Or do we judge other people for thinking, believing and doing things differently than us?

  • vulnerability

    • Do we allow ourselves to be vulnerable or do we withhold vulnerability? How do we relate to others being vulnerable or withholding their vulnerability from us?

  • needs

    • Do we suppress our needs or do we reach out for them to be met in a desperate way?

  • boundaries:

    • Do we set clear boundaries? Or do we expect people to know what we need and become resentful when they don't read our mind or behave in the way we desire?

  • navigating conflict

    • How do we relate to conflict? Do we stir it up, withdraw, blame, gossip, etc?

  • judgment

    • Do we judge ourselves or others for judging? Do we know the difference between judgment and discernment?

  • mental trappings such as

    • Comparison (I’m better than/I'm less than)

    • Judgment (I should/they should)

    • Disappointment (collapsing and withdrawing into "I'll never have what I want," or puffing up into "I will force what I want to happen no matter the impact on others.")

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Belief Systems Are Electrical patterns

Our subconscious patterns are called superhighways (neural pathways). They are created to efficiently process the 4 million bits of data we download per second through our mind, sensations, emotions and body.

Superhighways are the foundation of our belief systems and hold our perspective about who we are, how the world operates, what we can and cannot expect from ourselves and the world.  Even as adults, we continue to perceive the world through the lens of our early conditioning and the blueprint of beliefs we inherited. We react to the threats that have burrowed into our psyche, which, un-examined, run our present life and the ways we respond to every experience along the way.

We Can Rewire Our Brain

With self-awareness, courage, repetition and compassion we can update and rewire our brains to match more accurately the reality we want to live in rather than the one we inherited.

Primal leadership in action: the courage to go first

Among this pack of primal leaders are the courageous ones who are willing to take the lead and acknowledge, study and bring more conscious awareness and compassion towards the powerful, brilliant, wild and reactive natures that lives within each one of us.  

1. Courage and humility

As an integrative leader, we embrace being a messy human and practice self-acceptance for the ways in which we make mistakes, react when we wish we didn’t, and control when we want to let go.  

With this self-acceptance in place, we can investigate the driving factors of our beliefs and behaviors, and make changes that are more aligned. 

It takes courage and to be truthful about the distortion of our belief systems, reactive tendencies and to embrace the wide range of our emotional bandwidth and capacity.

In essence, it’s bold and powerful to come to a place where we stop fighting who we are, or pretend to be something we’re not, and rest into our essential, messy and wild nature. 

There is nothing inflated about being raw and vulnerable
It’s intoxicating and permission-giving to bare witness to someone in a position of power who stops the blame game, owns their contribution, and course corrects out of reactivity into connection.
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2. Self-Awareness and compassion

Our greatest impact as primal leaders is to cultivate self-awareness and compassion so that we can welcome home all aspects of what it means to be a messy and wonderfully mysterious creature full of love, tenderness, hunger and reactivity.

This requires apprenticing to pausing, slowing down and creating space in contrast to a world that accelerates with great velocity and fervor. Interrupting the cultural addiction to busyness and exploring the power of what emerges when we are more present, moving more slowly, listening more deeply and accessing reservoirs of wisdom that include and transcend intellect and ration is a radical act of integrative leadership.

This is the discipline of the path of primal-hearted leadership.

It’s not for the faint of heart.

It’s for the change makers who are committed to revealing wisdom rather than chasing solutions, firefighting and getting lost in repeating the same patterns over and over again.

 3. surrendering into the unknown

Primal leaders are revolutionary guides who walk into the unknown because the known and predictable paths established are no longer enough.

Primal leaders trust multiple channels of wisdom beyond cognitive intellect and reason to include: body sensations, emotional guidance, intuition, heart guidance, gut feelings, and information that appear without thought or feeling.

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What if we could open to our full potential beyond the limits of who we think we “should” be, and into who we are becoming?

To live into who we are becoming means we are surrendering into trusting that our inner wisdom is a reliable compass even when it’s in conflict with our mind. 

To do so we must cultivate a precision in distinguishing between the voice of our inner wisdom and the one of fear, protection and scarcity.  

And, then we must act boldly even if it feels like we’re jumping off a cliff into waters below that may not be deep enough for a soft fall.

Fear keeps us small; trust and surrender open doors for manifestations beyond our imagination.

A Heroic Journey of Re-Wilding & Jail Break

When a primal leader starts to feel the confinement of their cage, they begin to suffocate in the odor of stale air built up by habitual ways of being. Filling up their tank no longer works and they become exhausted by their current strategies for managing stress.

The time has come wander into the wilderness to shed old skin and discover the mysteries of who we are

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Some common prompts that push the river of change and introspection are:

  • working hard but feeling unfulfilled

  • achieving all they set out to achieve and still feeling restless

  • intimate relationships falling apart

  • chronic physical pain or accelerating health issues

  • addictions to work, substances, busyness increases with only short-term reprieve

  • reactive tendencies of needing to over-control, high emotional swings and high anxiety causing sleepless nights or periods of isolation, rage, or feeling stuck ‘going through the motions’

  • no longer feels satisfying to hide behind the ‘victim’ perspective of “it’s the world's fault,” feeling a visceral call to self-transformation

  • discovering the spiritual path has become another layer of protection from feeling vulnerable


As primal leaders we learn how to interrupt fear-based thoughts and entrapping emotional patterns. We take ownership for the behaviors that cause separation and judgment. We embody healthy power and practice communicating with authenticity and compassion.

Together, we birth a new world that includes our mind, heart and full embodied intelligence.  We break out of the confined boxes, open our hearts, rediscover our wild nature and we use this intelligence to create more harmony both inside and out.


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The Core Components of Primal Leadership