Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Developing Leadership Character for a Needy World

If you just say ‘Save the world’, it doesn’t help. You have to pick the right specific behaviours” – BJ Fogg 1

What the world needs now …

 The miser visits a rabbi to complain how miserable he is. The rabbi takes him by the  shoulders and places him in front of a mirror.

            “What do you see?” he asks.
            I see myself mutters the miser.
            The rabbi steers him to the window and asks, “What do you see now?”
            The miser responds, I see people and trees.”
            “The difference says the rabbi, “is the silver on the mirror”.

This story relates to how we see virtue and vice operating in a commercial world that is part window ‘out there’ and part mirror ‘in here.’  When we look through the Rabbi’s window what do we see?

 There is a lot wrong in the world in which business operates. A third of all food produced in the world goes to waste. At the same time “under-nutrition was the main underlying cause of death in children under five, causing 45% of all child deaths in the world in 2013”.2  

The gap between the rich and poor is getting even wider.  85 individuals have the same wealth as half the people on our planet.3    

We could point out much more, but suffice to say that virtuous business organisations can make a huge difference.  What the world needs now are organisations led by virtuous leaders.

Our hope is that more organisations will change their strategic narrative and become forces for good in society, and in this way build their own sustainability.  This requires us to look in the mirror. Without doing that we cannot reflect, and reflection is a prelude to change.

Richard Rohr says that “we mend and renew the world by strengthening inside ourselves what we seek outside ourselves, and not by demanding it of others or trying to force it on others”.4   

An advocate of ‘inward bound leadership’, Andre van Heerden, Director at the Power of Integrity New Zealand, says: “The global leadership crisis will never be overcome by skills training, which merely asks: “what can you do?” It will only be resolved by education which asks: “what sort of person will you become?”

What character virtues should be developed by leaders and their organisations?

Developing leadership character in a needy world is a huge challenge. We’re talking about leaders and their organisations going beyond legislative compliance, going beyond tacked-on corporate social responsibility programmes, beyond ‘cause marketing’ for public relations purposes, beyond notions of sustainability programmes as a competitive edge, beyond ‘doing well and doing good’. We’re talking about business deciding that its core purpose is to contribute meaningfully to planet, people and profit. About being a force for good.  About operating  from a basis of meaningful character virtues.

The process of deciding on specific virtues to be developed is dependent on each business organisation and its situation. Here are two models to start your reflection:

The Heartstyles indicator5 encourages behaviour shifts from ineffective to effective and from personal to other focus based on the positive character virtues of love and humility. This model is based on a belief that the quality of one’s life, character and leadership comes from an attitude of the heart.
It is mirrored by the 7 da Vinci virtues as described in The Virtuosa Organisation6, and a twin belief that who we are determines what and how we do and lead.
 There is clear overlap between the two models:  
·       Engaging the shadow is in order to expose and confront the less desirable side of ourselves, taking off protective masks, overcoming controlling and other dysfunctional behaviours, and fears, sources of pride and envy. And thus to develop our authentic, vulnerable, compassionate selves
·       Curiosity plays a powerful role in bringing understanding, overcoming fear of the unknown, obtaining perspective that reduces the scope for pride. Curiosity is the trigger for transformation through continuous learning
·       Love (of self and others) is also instrumental in driving out fear, prejudice, competitive behaviour - enabling us to effectively relate to and seek the other’s best interests and personal growth
·       Taking Responsibility for our actions, relationships, and the growth of others drives our own growth and results in the workplace
It’s also easy to see obvious connections between the models, and virtues and vices identified over the centuries (as one example - by the Catholic faith7):
·       Humility is the virtue that counters pride ...  Pride is a ‘sin’ based on undue and inappropriate appreciation of one’s self worth. Conversely, the virtue of humility is about modest behavior, selflessness and the giving of respect.
·       Kindness, or brotherly love or love for one’s neighbor, is the virtue which counters the sin of envy. Envy, in contradiction to God’s law of love, is manifest in a person’s sorrow and distress over the good fortune of another person. Conversely, kindness and brotherly love is manifest in the unprejudiced, compassionate and charitable concern for others”.
In short, unless character virtues undergird knowledge, skill and presence, our leadership efforts may be misdirected.  Unless an organisation’s vision, strategy, mission and objectives are informed by a virtuous purpose, it becomes just another entity, and worse – one not contributing to the common and greater good. Everything is based on virtues.
 You've gotta have heart!
Miles and miles and miles of heart!
Oh, it's fine to be a genius of course!
But keep that ol' horse before the cart!
First you've got to have heart! 
(from the musical Damn Yankees by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross)
A cautionary note
The leader should be absolutely convinced that virtues-based leadership is the right way to go. “In virtuous organizations, employees collectively behave in ways that are consistent with the best of the human condition and the highest aspirations of human kind”.8   There can be no half measures nor confused motives.  As Arnold Smit of the University of Stellenbosch Graduate School of Business says: “ … if a set of agreed-upon values, as is so often found in business, is not anchored in the hearts and minds and behaviours of virtuous individuals, they will remain superficial, surface phenomena. (Virtues, in contrast and by their very nature, are embedded in the people within whom they manifest)”.9
There is a danger that leaders may adopt ‘good’ behaviours for the wrong motive. This can be fuelled by promises of better market performance or higher profitability, for example:
·            Sustainability. “In addition, 31 percent of companies say sustainability is boosting their profits and 70 percent report that sustainability has a permanent place on their management agenda”. 10
·            Doing good.  The title of an article about Richard Branson’s book is a giveaway: Screw Business As Usual, And Make Your (Huge Piles Of) Money By Doing Good.11
·            Operating from a foundation of ideals, values, mission, purpose, deeper meaning. The sub-title of Grow is the give-away: “how ideals power growth and profit at the World’s greatest companies” 12
For advice on all aspects of what it takes to develop a virtuous organisation, and selecting and institutionalising virtues appropriate for your organisation, contact:
2.  Second International Conference on Nutrition in Rome from 19 to 21 November 2014.
3. Oxfam ‘Even it Up’ report, 2014
4. Rohr, Richard  Daily Meditations, Centre for Action & Contemplation
8. Horne, Amanda Virtuous Organisations   August, 2012
9. Smit, Arnold Virtuous Talent for A Sustainable Future in Human Capital Trends: Building a Sustainable Organisation  ed: Italia Boninelli & Terry Meyer  Knowledge Resources  2011
10. Kho, Jennifer Report: More Corporations Turn To Sustainability For Competitive Edge and Profits
11. Ferenstein, Gregory Richard Branson: Screw Business As Usual, And Make Your (Huge Piles Of) Money By Doing Good
12. Stengel, Jim Grow: how ideals power growth and profit at the world’s greatest companies Crown Business NY 2011

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


contributed by Dr Ana Garcia, PhD, DTM

George Bernard Shaw said: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”

Most people believe that when they talk, they communicate. Dr Louann Brizendine, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco states in “The Female Brain" that: “A woman uses about 20,000 words per day, while a man uses about 7,000". Are we to believe that all these words amount to successful communications?
In order to answer this question, we don’t need to go far. Simply check out the number of misunderstandings that you, dear reader, experience on a daily basis, be it in a family or business environment, or even among friends. Don’t you wonder sometimes whether we individuals come from different planets? It gives me a glimpse on the Tower of Babel story in the Bible…

The question is, why? Very simple. Because communicating is not the action of talking per se, but it has another element that we forget to take into account: there has to be a second person in a receptive state of listening and an integration of the communicated message, be it the words as well as the intentions or motives, the context and the clarity of meaning, and so on and so forth, which need to be assimilated before one can confirm that the communication has indeed taken place.

And after the meaning has been accurately captured, assuming that the listener doesn’t have his filters switched on (this is, his idiosyncratic way of seeing the world: we don’t always hear what is being said because we apply our own limitations and conditioning), which is rarely the case, the dual-direction of such communication should be completed when listener and speaker change roles where the former has the opportunity to express his opinion in relation to the information that he has just received.

That is, if he so desires, as his response could very well be non-verbal, in which case we are talking about a completely different way of communicating all together.

Complicated, isn’t it?



As complex as this may already sound, we should also add to such filters further elements like attitude, cultural variety, language barriers, personality, class background and educational level… which can (and generally do) create a willingness (or lack of) to listen, based on our preconceived stereotypes.
All of these components could be classified as physical. We haven’t even started to mention emotional states (we don’t communicate the same when we are happy as when we are angry or frustrated, for instance) or the level of personal development that one may have achieved over one’s life (filters become cleaner the higher the person’s level of awareness because one can make allowances for the receptor of one’s message if one has an understanding of his idiosyncrasies). That means that one can communicate within an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding. Not always the case.
And so as the variables start multiplying exponentially, we feel that we enter into sometimes chaotic interactions: our communications emulate erratic and unpredictable behaviour.
I have always had a natural skill with languages. Over the years I have become an English, Spanish, Basque and French teacher and I studied German for four years. It has taken me about 4 decades of ongoing study to get to this point; yet, I do not consider myself to be a good communicator because I have a facility for languages.
Granted, it opens doors all over the world and to be honest, you don’t need to learn a language for 10 years in order to go to a hotel somewhere in a foreign country and ask for food or directions… although it may help.
When I was young I was pretty introverted. I found communicating with others very difficult: there seemed to be a wide gap between what was in my mind or what I was feeling, and how people would react to my voicing such thoughts or emotions. It was a puzzle… and a dead end. Desperately, I wanted to write hoping that would allow me the relief of being able to express myself accurately.
However, I learnt later on in life that I had a huge creative block (a block in my Throat Chakra, the chakra of self-expression, creativity, integrity and communication) so I couldn’t express myself in any genuine or meaningful way. The body always manifests what is going on energetically, so I used to suffer from chronic laryngitis which would take away my voice for weeks at a time.
I was stuck in a corner, not knowing in which direction to go.
By the age of 22, with no healthy relationships with any members of my family and no real friends, I moved to the UK in order to perfect my English. I got a job in an international company. A perfect fit… except that there were people working there! So the test continued.
By the age of 32 my marriage failed and I fell into a point of depression. They say that “A broken heart is a healed heart” and in my case, it was true. As I fell into this dark hole, there was nowhere else to go but up, and it was at that point that I made myself a promise: I would take my own power and I would never fully rely on another person again.
18 years later, I still haven’t broken that promise. And now I teach communication to others.
So what happened here? What is the mysterious missing link?
There are many layers of meaning within a communication exchange. People tend to quickly point out whenever there is a misunderstanding that it was a problem due to accent, country of origin, education or social status, and so on and so forth.
But we know that people who do not speak the same language but have the good will to listen and to get along, can. Are we therefore talking about skill or are we talking about the one single thing that separates humans from other living beings?
We are talking about awareness.
Awareness is centred in the heart. That is why when my heart was broken, the emotional toxins of unhealed childhood, years of isolation, unsuccessful relationships, unreached dreams and unfulfilled longings and desires were able to find a way out. It was the beginning of my empowerment, the beginning of the integration of my energy matrix: an alignment of my mind, body and spirit or, in a lesser metaphysical way, an alignment of the three levels of reality: thoughts, words and deeds. All energy based.
As I started to actually see myself, I started to make choices on how I could focus my energy and redirect my life. I started to understand my family and people around me with detachment and compassion. As my ego was giving way to a higher level of consciousness, I started to function in the grown-up world.
And then I decided that I could indeed forgive and forget, so I started to release baggage. And as the blurriness and confusion were leaving my cloudy mind, I was able to see a future for myself with more clarity.
My resolve was becoming stronger. I started to find the satisfaction of reaching my goals in my own terms and under my own guidance, not through other people’s expectations. And then, the first miracle happened: I was heard.
That had never happened to me before. It had taken me about 40 years. They do say that life starts at 40… And with that, my personal authority was claimed.
The second miracle happened right afterwards: I was given a strong vision based on service to humanity. With that, I had a passion ignited in my heart: to help the planet raise consciousness.
I feel that ignorance is the foundation of all our sins: when our kundalini energy cannot reach the level of the heart and stays stagnant at the base chakra level (survival level), our choices are always based on the fear of not having enough. There is no compassion. I take before it is taken from me.
My determination became unshakeable. My focus, sharp. Distractions had to go and I learnt to say no with unconditional love and compassion. I was able to move forward and help others while doing so, respecting their boundaries and cancelling out energy manipulation games because I could clearly see them.  I was able to pick my battles and so I started to contain my energy.
There was no entanglement but emotional detachment instead. I took responsibility for my life and I stopped trying to save others… or to expect others to save me!
In my own eyes, I started to excel.
At the beginning of my spiritual search, I spent a great amount of hours meditating. With this practice, came the release of drama in my interactions with the world and I became disciplined in looking at the truth in the eye, no matter how much it hurt.
And as I saw myself in the light of truth, I started to see people’s desperate attempts to maintain the Status Quo at all costs… which would invariable translate in manipulation games, ego fights, fierce expectations or inflexible demands, just to name a few.
Because I became transparent, I started to see others through a transparent glass.
As I understood myself, I started to understand others. Why? Because deep inside we are all one and the same. We all have the same feelings and emotions. We all experience pain and elation. We all have the same fears and we all want the same things.
Our hearts are one and the same… so I came to understand that beyond the superficiality of race, gender, cultural background, language, mental capacity, education and so on and so forth, as I know myself, I know others.
After the years of spiritual, energetic and metaphysical training, as well as the studying of languages, public speaking and the development of my writing skills, several abilities awakened inside myself:
·     I used to be a very sensitive child, but now I had developed a sharp intuition and could feel energy (clairsentience). My Reiki Master training (Japanese method of hands on healing) helped.
·     I now heard not just with my physical ears but with what could be described as an etheric antenna (clairaudience). My Native American Totem Medicine training helped with this and later on I produced two Ebooks named “Animal Strategy” (
·     I now could understand at an etheric level (that is, having an inner knowledge without any confirmation of it being true or claircognizance). You are able to speak your truth without hurting another as there are no attachments, expectations, projections or manipulation in your communication.
This level of communication comes from a healed and integrated psyche and this can only happen when you have fulfilled your own needs; in that way, you don’t need to get anything from the person you are talking to.
At this level, here is complete detachment and unconditional giving. The integrity of both speaker and listener are maintained, and choices open up that were not available before.
People come to me because they think that they need or want language, public speaking or writing lessons. Yes: I base my work on the word – spoken or written. And the word is my love.
One word is not the same as another in any language that I know, and it is also not the same in different contexts. One word always has subtleties that another word doesn’t. And I love being specific – as Spirit put it once “You have made your work into an Art” – hence “The Art of Effective Communication”.
My clients repeatedly tell me that “I seemed to come up continuously in the internet and they knew they had to come to see me”.
I laugh to myself. Because what is really happening is that a deep and internal energy transfer takes place: an alignment of frequencies that is activated when my clients take responsibility for whatever shift needs to take place. And in this process of communication, I speak the truth, only the truth and nothing but the truth.  The rest takes care of itself.
The alignment of these three levels of reality or dimensions is what makes our communications meaningful, efficient and effective: they are clean and they get completed. There are no unresolved feelings lingering afterwards.
There is closure and there is achievement of goals. There is a clean focus and a long term vision. There is personal power and energy released that before was being suppressed by negative feelings or spiritual ignorance of universal laws.
Anyone will teach you tips on effective communication, but one should verify whether the teacher has integrated his different levels of consciousness himself. Because meaningful, real, true communication comes from the heart and is not fancy.
It is simple and it uses simple words. It flows from the soul and there is no disconnection. It gives you strength to state who you are and become an authority in the process.
So when do you really know that a communication has been successful? There is a link from heart to heart, a resonance. There is an alchemy. There is magic.
And once you get used to magic, you will not want to live life any other way.
The Art of Effective Communication
Mb:          +27 (0)76 393 3552
Dr. Ana Garcia has a Doctoral Degree in Metaphysical Sciences (PhD), specializing in Transpersonal Counseling (integration of higher consciousness in the counseling process). She has a Master’s degree in Education and Languages from the Teaching University of her native Bilbao (Spain). She is also a Coach U CTP graduated Life and Business Coach. She holds a Certificate of Management with the British Institute of Management, as well as a DTM award (Distinguished Toastmaster) given by Toastmasters International on the fields of communication and leadership.
Dr. Ana is a Reiki Master. She has studied the Metamorphic Technique Universal Principles with its founder, Gaston St. Pierre, and holds qualifications in Character Analysis and Graphology with the British School of Yoga, as well as Nutrition with the School of Natural Health Sciences (UK).
Dr. Ana works on the field of Integration of Consciousness and Human Potential, focusing on the development of Emotional Intelligence (E.Q.) and Energy Management. By translating higher metaphysical concepts into practical everyday tools, Dr. Ana helps individuals achieve efficient, focused and waste-less lives. Dr. Ana is an author in the fields of personal development, metaphysics, spirituality and self-help. Her passion is to inspire others to claim their own power, clarify their dreams and create strategies to succeed.
Copyright © Dr. Ana Garcia PhD, 2014.
All rights reserved. No portion(s) of this article can be copied, used or reproduced for any manner without the expressed written consent of Ana Garcia.



Saturday, August 2, 2014

25 years ago I received this letter ...


Elias Charcour of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church was Archbishop of Akko, Haifa, Nazareth and all Galilea from 2006 to 2014. Reasons for his retirement are unclear.

I received this letter from him a few years later.
What has changed?