February 16

Embodied Leadership

Embodied Leadership

By Deborah Johnson

February 16, 2024

central nervous system, CNS, Deborah Johnson, decision making, embodied leadership, Goal setting, podcast, problem solving, Rochelle Rice

Relating the body to embodied leadership makes sense coming from a former professional dancer. Rochelle Rice did just that in the area of jazz with 30+ years in the fitness industry. She really believes that all women deserve a movement program that works for her body and should not be shamed or blamed. Embodied leadership refers to the role of the body in effective leadership or how to stay effective in the middle of chaos.

Drawing on her background as a former professional jazz dancer, Rochelle Rice, with over 30 years in the fitness industry, connects the body to leadership. She passionately advocates for movement programs, both for the mind and body, tailored to every woman's uniqueness, rejecting any form of shame or blame. The concept of embodied leadership, as she explains, explores the vital role the body plays in effective leadership and maintaining effectiveness amid chaos.

Many individuals have diligently cultivated a robust skill set, particularly those at mid-career or the halftime of life. Acknowledging the invaluable foundation created by those skills and experiences is essential when navigating change and transition. This mindset doesn't suggest knowing everything or perfection; instead, it signifies possessing a reservoir of skills that facilitates intentional transitions and decisions. It provides the freedom to pause, take inventory, and chart a course that aligns with one’s vision for making a meaningful impact, rather than merely adhering to a predetermined career path. In this article we delve into three areas: listening to the body, becoming bilingual and making dreams come true.

Women at Halftime by Deborah Johnson Embodied Leadership with Rochelle Rice 2-20-2024
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Listening to the Body

Monitoring and tracking our central nervous system (CNS) holds immense value in optimizing overall well-being. The CNS, comprising the brain and spinal cord, plays a pivotal role in regulating bodily functions and responding to external stimuli. By tracking its activities, individuals gain insights into their stress levels, sleep patterns, and cognitive performance. This data-driven approach empowers individuals to make informed lifestyle choices, adapting routines to enhance mental and physical health. Understanding the nuances of the CNS's responses allows for targeted interventions, whether through stress management techniques, sleep hygiene improvements, or cognitive exercises. In essence, tracking the central nervous system serves as a personalized guide, fostering a proactive and holistic approach to health and performance optimization.

The human body is remarkable, featuring more than 600 muscles and 200 bones. The circulatory system, when fully extended, spans an area equivalent to the size of a tennis court. When the immune system is optimized, our body has the ability to heal itself. Taking a moment to listen, feel and understand the different parts of our body has the potential to reduce stress and foster healing.

Sometimes as adults, we find ourselves disconnected, even with our own breath. Many are immersing themselves in meditation and breathwork, aiming to explore the intricacies of anatomy and muscles. Take the diaphragm, for example—it's a powerhouse in itself. Understanding its function is crucial, appreciating how intentional and mindful breathing can bring us to a more balanced state. This is but one example of the innate power within our bodies confirms the value of mindful listening.

Becoming Bilingual

Active listening triggers various physical responses in our bodies. A significant change is an increase in the activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, inducing a state of relaxation. During focused listening, our heart rate tends to slow down, and provides an opportunity for a decrease in muscle tension. The focus is no longer on ourselves, but outward, minimizing our own self-doubt and personal weaknesses.

Additionally, active listening often involves maintaining eye contact, nodding, and using facial expressions to convey understanding. These nonverbal cues stimulate the release of oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding and social connection. Oxytocin contributes to feelings of trust and empathy, enhancing the emotional aspect of communication.

Furthermore, the brain undergoes changes during active listening. Regions associated with processing auditory stimuli and language comprehension become more engaged. This heightened brain activity enables us to better understand and interpret the information being communicated. We can also spend time listening to our own body. What is it telling us with our own self-talk? Too often, driven personalities drive themselves into exhaustion, both mentally and physically. Listening to the wisdom of our bodies give the body a chance to win with recovery time of extra sleep,  time off or even friendships.

Making Dreams Come True

The Disney organization has capitalized on the value of making dreams come true. They know that a curious mindset fosters a commitment to continuous learning, sparking creativity and innovative thinking both personally and professionally. The inclination to ask questions and explore diverse perspectives enhances problem-solving skills and cultivates open-mindedness and creativity. Meanwhile, confidence acts as a powerful force, promoting resilience in the face of challenges and fortifying mental strength. Download the Hero Mountain Summit presentation here.

Confident individuals are adept at effective communication, expressing ideas with clarity and fostering better understanding. Their willingness to take calculated risks and step out of comfort zones is a testament to their self-assured nature. In leadership roles, confidence becomes a beacon, inspiring others and creating a positive and collaborative work environment. Together, curiosity and confidence form a dynamic duo, propelling personal growth, heightened problem-solving abilities, and success in various endeavors.

Hero Mountain Summit Presentation-p.1-Deborah Johnson

While the nerves are still there, the focus of relaxing my body as I step onto the stage exudes an air of self-assurance. This not only puts me at ease, but also my audience. Within leadership, maintaining a relaxed and confident demeanor fosters approachability, cultivates positive work environments, and builds trust among team members. This state further contributes to creative problem-solving, enabling individuals to tap into their mental resources effectively without succumbing to unnecessary stress. Ultimately, relaxed confidence positively influences personal well-being and success, establishing a balanced mindset that resonates positivity across various aspects of life. It also contributes to a better performance!


  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body feels and responds. Take moments to relax and reduce stress through practices like deep breathing. Building this mindful connection can contribute to improved overall well-being.
  • Embrace Different Perspectives: Be open to diverse viewpoints and ways of thinking. Like learning a new language, embracing cognitive diversity enriches problem-solving and decision-making, fostering a more inclusive and innovative mindset.
  • Act on Your Dreams: Turn your dreams into actionable steps. Break them down into achievable goals and take intentional actions. By taking practical steps toward your aspirations, you can actively work towards making them a reality.

Books & Articles:

Women at Halftime: Principles for Producing Your Successful Second Half by Deborah Johnson

Call Upon Your Inner Strength: You Have it! with Deborah Johnson

Five Principles for Intentional Living and Purpose at Halftime with Deborah Johnson

Skills Developed for Re-Entering the Workforce with Deborah Johnson

- about rochelle rice

Rochelle Rice is the FIRST woman in the world to hold both the Accredited Speaker (AS) designation from Toastmasters International and the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation from the National Speakers Association. A former professional jazz dancer, her passion stems from the inordinate amount of stress in our society placed on thinness rather than overall health and wellness.

A healthy mindset provides the freedom to pause, take inventory, and chart a course that aligns with one’s vision for making a meaningful impact, rather than merely adhering to a predetermined career path.

deborah johnson

Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author

If you are interested in growing and learning, check out our online courses here: Online Learning

1,100 words

Deborah Johnson

About the author

DEBORAH JOHNSON, M.A., creator of Hero Mountain® and former president of Los Angeles National Speakers Association, is an international award-winning music artist, author, speaker and National Media Commentator. She also hosts the popular podcast "Women at Halftime." Deborah provides tools to create your ideal lifestyle and work at mid-career or during the halftime of life, getting unstuck. You can live your second half fulfilled, focused and free! Up for multiple GRAMMY Awards and spending over 20 years in the entertainment industry, she's an expert on how to constantly reinvent yourself in a gig-economy. She is also the recipient of the Women's Economic Forum Exceptional Women of Excellence Award. Deborah is the author of multiple books, over twenty albums and musicals and speaks and performs in both live and virtual events.

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