We had the good fortune of connecting with Beth Killough and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Beth, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Through my company, The Circle Up Experience, I train individuals and groups to listen, speak, feel, relate, and lead with through the Natural Leadership model based on our basic human nature and our essential human needs. We provide experiences of all kinds (with horses, dogs, other animals, nature, hiking, meditation, improvisation, writing, art, etc.) which help people to reconnect with their human instincts. When we are grounded in our Natural Leadership, it’s a lot like having a secret superpower. We can live and relate with greater clarity, stability, and ease. It’s quite lovely!
The human herd, even with all of our brilliant innovation, intellect, and creativity, has been limping along. We’ve been hurting. It’s not that those characteristics have not done us well and surged us ahead in our development as a species. But in all of our advancement, we’ve left behind some fundamentals and it turns out the things we aren’t doing to take care of ourselves and each other are actually essential to our wellbeing. I bring lessons from animals to people so we can reclaim and integrate these basic parts of our humanity and in doing so, we can attend to our needs, have deeper and more meaningful relationships with each other, and create psychological safety and trust in our groups and communities.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The animals are always honest so they have been my teachers. I’m a licensed therapist with over two decades of experience but I’ve come to believe, we are human animals first and foremost. We have a lot to learn and reclaim about our mammal selves. So, I’ve blended traditional psychology, animal behavior, natural systems theory, experiential learning, and mindfulness into a personal and professional development path that cuts through all of the “blah blah blah” and gets right to the heart of our humanity. We are in desperate need for real solutions to learn how to take care of ourselves and each other. We need authentic connection now more than ever. We are a human herd.
This is definitely a unique approach–we interact with horses and and ask people to think of themselves as animals! It hasn’t always been easy to connect the dots when I’ve introduced people to the work I do. But, it’s such a shocking conversation starter and really wakes people up when you tell them they need to learn more about themselves as mammals. I’ve also found that most of our profound hurt and trauma has come from other people. Working with animals acts as a bridge for humans to find their way back to trusting each other. We have a lot of healing to do. The horses, and the other animals we work with, are always direct about their feedback and they are willing to adjust and carry on with relationship once we shift and their needs are met. They have so much to teach us about staying in hard conversations and what it takes to build trust and security in groups. I think this gives human groups a sense of hope. We’re dealing with mirco-adjustments and learning to listen and attune to each other. We have this in our ancient wiring and we just need to access it and practice using it.
I named the business Circle Up because this is what we used to do. Not long ago, we circled up our wagons to share resources and create safety in numbers. We have the instinct, as humans, to form community. I’ve always been a community organizer, the one in the group that tries to bring people together for a common good. I learned this from my animals even when I witnessed humans struggling and failing at it. So Circle Up is really a signal of hope and a kind of core belief in our humanity. We have it in us to be good to ourselves and to each other, especially if we slow down, take care of ourselves, and look for ways to be of service.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am a SF Bay Area resident. One of my favorite spots around here is Uvas Canyon Park. There are waterfalls year round and you can hike deep into the redwood forest. To really capture the magic of this place, I recommend a creek crawl. Spend some time off the trail and in the creek! You can actually hike up the creek for about two miles, finding paths across dry rocks, putting your hands in small waterfalls, discovering all kinds of plants, animals, and rock formations. The creek is always changing so a creek crawl is unique each time. The rocks have moved, the water is flowing more or less, the light in the trees is casting different angles and shadows. After a Uvas Creek Crawl, go into downtown Morgan Hill and eat at Odeum. It’s a Michelin rated restaurant with Mediterranean fare–and it’s in an old grainery building. Totally charming and delicious!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d love to give a Shoutout to Amy Hublou of Eagle, Idaho is a valued thought partner, a truth-teller, and provider or genuine unconditional love and support.
Cassie Green Photography Beth Killough