Nation Building

I had been summoned to offer counsel for a visiting head-of-state. Their schedule was grueling, with interminable back-to-back events. By 2am, when all the demands and minutiae of diplomacy, emergencies and commerce had been met, the head of their military escorted me in. I had been invited to the inner sanctum, the end of the day ruins, the exhaustion, the lonely battlefield of a leader.

“You know my strategic problem and the threats to my government, what is your take on it?”

“Distraction, discipline and delivery”, I responded. “All threats originate internally. Opposition works to distract your team and then the people. From there, you lose discipline and your team loses strength and power. Leadership without discipline cannot deliver. You are seen but not heard, the message is lost, the impact is less and you become replaceable. Fear replaces vision. But this can be corrected.”

And thus our discussion began. Sovereignty, strategy, world view, safety and security, winning and losing, perspectives shared, straight forward, to-the-point, no-holds-barred, respectfully engaged. Grateful we were for the stimulating company, lasting until dawn’s new day.

As the limo pulled away, I thought, I’ve seen this so many times, in politics, industry, conference rooms, legal offices, family rooms, back rooms, etc.

Corrections begin within the Self and extend to the realm of leadership – organizationally, perceptually, and progressively. The most effective and honest  influencers know the trajectory of long range thinking and planning that keeps an arc of success possible. Short term is vulnerable, untrustworthy and open to corruption. Any nation, big or small, can become a failed state, without a blueprint. Any person, young or old, can become an unshakable victor if they stick to a plan and check their ego at the door.

Innovate for Peace

On March 20, 2003, I awoke to the news that another war had been launched, this time with an invasion of Iraq led by a U.S. coalition. I called my team together and said, we too are launching a campaign, we are waging peace. One day we will look back and wonder how this kind of illness of war had afflicted our humanity and our planet for so long. Let us begin the healing.

Peace is a discipline. It requires measured action and neutral training. Many of the same qualities of war are necessary to achieve peace – strategy, patience, negotiation, intelligence, acceptance, tolerance, precision, commitment, etc. Reactivity is not one of them.

Peace is not simply the absence of war. Once you experience peace, you do not want anything less. It requires courage to achieve, sustain and guard. If we turn the discipline of battle to the discipline of peace, we achieve a society that will never want anything other than the consciousness of peace.

Let us be brave and not repeat our failures, but rather turn hostility to calm, dominance to justice and inequity to balance. We have a duty to achieve a sustainable peace, within ourselves, collectively on our planet and beyond. This is not a passive experience or one reserved for the few. It is the sovereign right of all people, a minimum standard for future generations.

On March 20, 2003, I made a simple gesture, a toe in the water of peace, with free meditation programs, held daily without fail. We waged peace through meditation. A tiny step in some ways, a massive one from another perspective. 

Since then I have taught leadership, launched activist organizations, reported on disasters and inequities, taught more meditation, created controversy, settled grievances, and helped to solve problems for those in positions of power and influence.

During my career as a Yogi, and especially over the last decade, I have dedicated myself to creating and supporting culture-changers, leaders in government, education, media and now finance. My intent has always been to bring people in my student and professional network to new facets of their potential and life purpose; to enhance their impact and positive influence, and most importantly, to encourage them to take strategic quantum leaps for their own advantage and for the betterment of society.

I have been successful in this area by keeping my network quite small, and my reach large. This year, I am working with an editor to publish my first book. While this creative endeavour underscores everything, I am very determined to also bring certain projects to fruition in the short term. This includes local and global business efforts, new courses and healing centers – all innovative, large scale and beneficial. During this time, I will draw on the fundamental Yogic technique of Sadhana, the art of spiritual discipline, as the foundation for this stage of my life expression. I invite you to share this with me. 

Let us, each in our own way, meditate together and share our path of peace and healing with as many people as possible. Let us work together to build strong minds, resilient bodies, a consciousness of maturity, and a commitment to transformation.

Peace is not gentle. It is fierce. We are people of compassion and hope, but we too can be fierce. This is my invitation to you, to innovate for peace. To be forward-thinking, fierce and present.

The Big Ask

A politician in a developing country was set to address a large audience of corporate and political leaders, asking for donations, as he had every Christmas. He was proud of this gathering and of his annual call to remember the poor, requesting food baskets and toys.

I proposed a different approach – go for the big picture, the big idea, the big ask. This, I offered, could be a rare opportunity for accelerated leadership, upgrading the conversation, and shifting the opinion others would have of his tradition of generosity, transforming it with a vision of much greater impact.

Instead of asking for Christmas baskets, I suggested, make a commitment to eliminating poverty, permanently across the board, and challenge everyone present to join you in that effort, as part of your larger national and regional safety and security agenda.

Everyone talks about poverty, I said, but you are going to get it done.…ask your audience to imagine it….to create a real solution versus settling for something rote, smaller and easier.

The speech was broadcast live nationwide and streamed globally. His words had real weight. He felt energized and empowered.

Immediately afterwards two executives approached him enthusiastically. One, the wealthiest business person in the area, another the VP of a major oil company. Each pledged hundreds of millions of dollars that night to achieve the vision he had simply laid out.

Of course, Christmas baskets were distributed that week, and he continued to carefully and patiently follow up with the major financial offers throughout the year. The largest investments were in fact secured and accompanied by more enthusiastic support for the reforms he had been working on for safety, security and urban innovation.

This was a turning point for him, as he discovered that peace was not a noun but a verb, and it needed to be envisioned, declared and delivered. It required a bit of a push, which is where I came in.

He and I agree – the eradication of poverty is our greatest lever for long term and sustainable safety and security locally and globally.

As leaders, we sometimes must state the obvious, and go for the big ask. It brings focus to the vision and raises the conversation to action.

All Life Communicates

A well-known academic spent decades observing primates in their natural jungle habitat. She attempted to create a dictionary translating animal body language into English. She was exhausted and disappointed as it was, after a lifetime of her effort, far from accurate or complete. What a huge expenditure of energy when all she had to do was become very quiet. She would have heard these instinctual beings communicating, in their true native tongue, silently, subtly and clearly. It takes a bit of practice to open a quiet room in the mind for that intuitive perception. But it is so much more natural, instant and loving – and can be applied to communication with all life, all living beings, all things.

Intuitive Intelligence

Animals have instinct, senses and physical prowess to protect themselves. They can leap further, run faster and bite harder than humans. They smell what we cannot detect, hear what is beyond our range, magnetically sense what we don’t feel, and even communicate telepathically seamlessly. However, they do not have intuition. This is the unique protective instrument of the human, part of human consciousness, individually and collectively, providing protection far superior to any physical, mental, sensory or instinctual instrument.

Intuitive intelligence is not a psychic experience. Nor is it a special gift, reserved for sensitives. If you have to “channel” it, then you are not getting out of the way fast enough to be intuitive. If you have to see it, read it, hear it or feel it, then you are slowing down the process and not engaging your intuition.

Intuition does not arrive. It is always there. It is our awareness that changes, as we become accustomed to its trustworthiness.  For some, intuition eases into one’s life over time. For others, it seems to burst on the scene like a stroke of lightning. It can be a gentle prod, an inner whisper, a series of synchronistic events, a wonderful coincidence, a feeling of being guided, or a moment of extra clarity. Or it can be realized as a shock, as if reality is suddenly turned upside down. Whether it is a gut feeling, a hunch, a flash of insight, or a whole new way of looking at life, intuition always begins with an awakening, an extra sensory awareness of life that adds genius to our perception. The key is to understand that intuitive realization is permanent and seamless.

Every problem has two sides – information and intuition. Without information, one is ignorant. Without intuition, one is blind. Either way, without both sides in gear, problems are a fool’s gamble. With both sides working, one can know what is best and move in that direction, re-calibrating along the way.

Economics 101

The project had been announced, a billion dollars, an urban gem, seven stars. The architect held a glitzy press conference. The designer dazzled everyone, having traveled the world to find the latest trends in construction. Yet the developer who initiated the project, the person with the most to gain, lost control of his own creation.

Although he had never attempted such a large project, the developer had a good reputation, having always paid his debts on time with smaller high-end projects, so it was assumed that he could handle this step up. Something went awry. Ego instead of insight created cracks in his business model. Mistakes were made.

Were they rookie errors within the bureaucracy of permits, disgruntled consultants leaking misinformation, greedy partners juggling power among investors, or banal jealousy? All of these of course, but the main problem was lack of intuition.

The developer started off with a single visionary investor who was forced to drop out early due to political issues. Then from desperation the developer allowed high-priced lawyers and accountants to step in and create a very complex financial structure involving an unimaginative group of investors, each protecting and enriching their narrow interests and mortgaging his. Soon enough the gaggle began to question the developer’s original plans and brought the project under their control, ousting him from his leadership position and pulling back most of the innovative features of the project.

The developer was deflated personally and professionally and the project was delayed. It was too late to step in and correct himself. He remained the face of the project, but it was not his anymore and the original concept was toned down. He forgot the first rule of economics – money is what money does. In this case, the doing was in the hands of those who had manipulated and connived to gain control of the money and the project. He had lost that jurisdiction and innovation suffered, as usual. 

Some would say, so what, the developer knew the risks. Some might offer that he was not up to the task, having lost his way in the closed and devious cabal of local financiers. After all, how dare he try something new, how dare he not know his place and refuse to bow to the existing cartel.

Money was not his problem, it never is. Lack of intuition was his true Achilles Heel. Intuition would have protected his project and prepared him for greatness. His multi-layered reasoning had not served him well enough. Lack of intuition made him vulnerable and slow to act. It also made him settle for less in newer projects, easy to blame others, suspicious of fresh financing opportunities and rude in his dealings. He doubled up his support of popular causes, distracting himself and saving his reputation, barely, but not saving his original project. He became like all the others, stunning in his capitulation to the norm.

Lack of intuition is the enemy of progress. In this case, it reduced a powerful developer and diminished a powerful project. Once again, mountains of debt were spent on one very tall but very boring building.

This was not my client, although I would have been happy to step in. Sometimes, intuitive leadership starts from outside.

The Secret

The secret to life, love, liberty, success, and leadership is command – the power to command one’s own mind. Without this capacity, the qualities, values and virtues of human grace are lessened.

The mind is meant to serve the human and not the other way around. This takes training, guidance, practice, and intuition.

Just because you have a thought or feeling doesn’t mean it is real, is of value or needs to be expressed. Unfortunately, we often equate the presence of a thought or feeling with reality. This causes great pain. It is an addictive form of suffering, brought on by incomplete training. 

Every thought has to pass through various channels to arrive at its processing point, where it can become a desire or an action or be discarded. Beliefs follow the same route, as do emotions.

Since thousands of thoughts are released into this process per second, most of it is behind the scenes. Repetitive emotional thoughts are filed away in the same place after a while and through lack of discipline are let loose.

The human ecosystem flourishes with discipline, It opens up new spaces to use in every realm of the physical, mental, spiritual, and even emotional, when thoughts are filtered properly.

This is where intuition can be so valuable, as it is much faster than thought. The intuitive mind weighs the ins and outs of any situation before time and space take control of it. Every human has this capacity built in. It is not a feeling as that is too slow. It is not an instinct as that is too limited.

Life is not linear. It can be complex, overwhelming and oppressive unless intuition is engaged continuously, and command engaged without exception.

All life is an art meant to be lived as a science. The technology that connects and commands the two is intuition.

A Step Ahead

A high level government official from a developing country called to run an idea by me. We discussed strategy, personalities, timing, consequences and opposing forces, and then agreed to stay in touch. About a month later, I was at my desk and called him, spontaneously. I had nothing specific in mind and frankly was surprised when he answered quickly.  “I am dealing with a foreign power in revolution,” he said, explaining his immediate situation. Not only was he abroad in a potentially dangerous scenario, but he was being asked to help solve the crisis. His trip home was being held until further notice. I had somehow reached him at the exact moment he realized the seriousness of the situation and his potential impact. He was not one to run from a problem, but he was also wise enough to seek counsel from a variety of sources. In this case, I was both sounding board and advisor, in what I thought was an impromptu call, but was truly an intuitive connection. What made this so special was the way this communication was not special at all, just part of the flow for him and me.

A few months later, sitting at my desk in the late evening, I called him again. “Come see me,” I began, intending to invite him at some later date – but before I could finish the sentence, he said, “Yes, I am getting off the plane now and will be there in 20 minutes.” Perhaps he thought I knew he was en route, but I had no (conscious) idea he was coming to my city. Once again, this was not unusual. The intuitive flow was at work again, synchronistic and connected. Within the hour, he and two other cabinet ministers and the ambassador were in my living room, discussing behind-the-scene national and global politics and strategy.

What I admired the most about this politician was his willingness to trust his own intuitive flow and to engage in mine, without questioning how or why. I had met many other public leaders who were exhausted by travel. In his case, the plane was only one small part of the journey. The momentum included these kind of meetings, puzzling to his colleagues, extraordinary to his staff and perfectly normal to him and me.

We met many times afterwards, sometimes planned in advance, but most of the time by synchronistic connection, somewhere in the world, in an airport lounge, an embassy meeting, a restaurant, and even a limo.

Intuition is a step on the ladder of life. In leadership it is an extra sense, meant to be be ingrained. It is never a one time flash; it is a flow.

Any leader who is bound by time and space is not using their full potential, and can easily miss out on intelligence coming from various sources and from their own telescopic and intuitive mind, in tune with what is to come.

Economic Grace

Money is not a personal domain. Dynasties have been created and destroyed due to this one misunderstanding.

Money is what money does. It is never an issue unto itself. Create it. Ask for it. Use it. Receive it. Manage it. Grow it. Enjoy it. Share it. Whether it is a pound of gold, or a nickel-plated coin worth five cents, it will only have impact if you say so. And it will have none if you do not. These decisions become the treasures that are the true reflection of your caliber, and the impact of your organization.

Take a Breath

Breath easy with Yogi Akal

When you feel weak, breathe.

When you are angry, breathe.

When you are afraid, breathe.

When you are breathing, meditate.

When you are meditating, become bold.

When you are bold, relax.

When you relax, be grateful.

When you are grateful, breathe.