Archives for Accessing our humanity

How do we gain power through loosing it?

Probably the most common form of dealing with any experience of powerlessness is a feeling of release, of yielding  – once it becomes clear that no amount of force can bring about changes in ourselves or others. Out of this release a letting go ensues. As a result we move out, change jobs, start something new. Such a change can be an important milestone on our leadership journeys. Even if it appears reactive, it can lead to an important transformation. A crisis of powerlessness can therefore initiate an external change that opens up new opportunities. In ecosystems this concept translates
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The gifts of powerlessness

Thus an army without flexibility never wins a battle. A tree that is unbending is easily broken. Lao Tzu  Following on the first post ‘The Power of Powerlessness‘ this post explores the gifts of powerlessness: Paradoxically, giving up the kind of power and control – needed to predict the unpredictable and control the uncontrollable –  enables us to get our power back as individuals. How we as leaders for sustainability relate to both experiences of power and powerlessness has a decisive impact on the growth of our humanness, humility and compassion. As a result, the contribution we are willing to make
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The power of powerlessness

It seems paradoxical that leaders can become more powerful through a loss of power. A fear of  powerlessness and the inability to control an unsustainable future, a reluctant stakeholder group or an inner battle could lead to a long period of self-doubt, lack of confidence and an inability to lead according to our full potential. Experiences of powerlessness hit our most vulnerable spot, the feeling of not being in control. Powerlessness revives most common fears such as the fear of abandonment, failure, betrayal, inadequacy, insignificance, oppression, and loss of love.   Yet, disappointment and disillusionment are an unavoidable part of any leadership
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Travelling the inner and outer path

I am convinced that our leadership contribution, to more sustainable action in the world, requires parallel development of both our inner resourcefulness (such as reflection and mindfulness) and the outward expression of this resourcefulness (such as redefined leadership contribution). The journey within seeks resonance in life-enhancing action. While the inner process can – but must not be – done alone, the outer journey requires collective leadership. There is interdependence between inner changes in consciousness and the development of collective consciousness. We notice imbalances and healing opportunities in both inner and outer contributions. Sometimes the inner process of maturation becomes self-centered and does
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Starting the year with forward-looking reflection

As I smoothed into the first day of the New Year – 2016 – I stumbled upon this quite from Einstein: “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” (Albert Einstein) And it made me think that awareness begins with observation and reflection. In whatever way we integrate reflection into our leadership journey, it helps us to slowly cut through the chains of habitual thought patterns or preconceptions and their subsequent actions. But there is a trap waiting for us. If our mind is conditioned by a
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How collective leadership can help VW transform into a better (not only stronger) company? Step 1: Being Human

In my last blog I started creating a story around a big transformative shift at VW. I suggested imagining a totally transformed VW in the year 2030 that looks back at the 2015 test manipulation crises with a smile, because it caused VW to become a pioneer in the future world of mobility. Let us see, how our avatar MM, the CEO of that imagined VW, reconsiders his path. “Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end”. This quote from Robin Sharma, a Canadian leadership guru should guide us into the imagined story of
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Reconnecting with our early intention

I remember when I was a child that I never understood why people went to war. I never asked and never talked about it, but to me there was no sense in it. When I grew up in the divided city of Berlin, I began to day-dream about speaking to people about reconciling and making peace. This is what I call my early intention: without anybody telling me I felt that something needed to be changed in the world. When you find yourself in a state of questioning your leadership contribution, I believe it is worth looking at the early
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Can crises be opportunities?

Experiences of powerlessness, defeat and crises are gateways to a deeper perception of reality. Sometimes they are gateways to a greater transformation. We know this from our life path. What if we were able to discover much earlier that there is a crisis emerging that could lead to an opportunity? When the boundaries of our constructed identity are shaken, we become insecure, feel powerless and have difficulties to handle the uncertainty that comes with it. This is a signpost that is worth observing. If we learn to not ignore it, not fight it, not correct it, not emotionally react to
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What is your contribution?

A couple of years ago I had a visitor staying in my home in South Africa. He was a businessman from India who for most of his career was very successfully involved in the construction industry in India. He himself meditated and taught in his tradition in India and other parts of the world. When he sat in my living room he explained to me: “The first half of your life you spend exploring the world and yourself. You take in and take in; the world serves your own growth. The second half of your life you spend giving back
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When is the goal big enough?

If what we serve is not big enough, not really aligned with our heart or too short-sighted for our heart’s intuition, we will perform well, possibly commit, but our hearts won’t be in it. Real service needs the engagement of the heart. As we walk through life, we may at times feel inspired and full of energy, at other times we feel a lack of direction. Most often the latter happens when we have lost the meaning of what we do, we don’t feel we can make a difference. Many change programs in companies are based on aligning people with
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