Amrita Singh, Arun Wakhlu and Yogesh Parmar: Leadership and Love
Nuggests From Awakin Talks on Love and Leadership
In what ways have leadership and love come together for you?
- From the age and stage, I’m in life, I look at everything from two spaces. Space from which I look at it as an individual and how I see it as a part of the collective whole. So leadership and love, I look at it at an individual level - How I’m going to lead this ship (body) of mine with love. The ship of this body, mind, and intellect that's been bestowed and that for me is a space of self-love and acceptance. And from the collective space, I look at it as how can I love and lead this ship that I have, whether it is my family, friends, community, organizations I work in. How do I bring in the spirit of love to everything I do and I offer.
- I’m really fortunate to be in a space where I can exude a sense of Love. Love for me with capital L has no expectations, just an offering to every conversation I have.
- In life when you sit back and write down all the things. Things can be divided into two parts, where I engaged with love and where I engaged with fear. And I choose love over fear.
- Leadership is unlocking the full spectrum of the rainbow between the binary. And further to define the loaded word ‘Success’. The way we define success has narrowed and narrowed and narrowed. The other thing is, ‘How do I see uncertainty for what it is and invite self and people around us to let go of the illusion of control?
- All indigenous people who are not very much into formal education (sub-Africans, Mauries, etc) would say, “First Birth happened, then education happened, then marriage happened.” But a typical “educated” person today says, “I was born, I studied, I got married”. Education gives us the illusion of control, while the other person is in the allowance of whatever is offered to me
- Selling Uncertainty as Risk is a 6 trillion dollar business every year. The difference between both is risk can be used to model the present choices and predict future results. For example, you can model risk in a casino. But the world is uncertain so the number of factors that are at play, itself cannot be accounted for, let alone be designed for or be quantified. So we shouldn’t try to solve for uncertainty, but rather understand and embrace its pervasiveness and truth.
- So for me, leadership is about two things, being able to unlock the spectrum and being able to allow what there is and fundamentally seeing the life that we are living in is full of uncertainty and complexity.
- Essentially, all big battles in life have been battles for love. That can be from three places, The love that was denied to me by my primary care-givers when I was growing up. So I would look for external validation that I’m worthy of love. The second can be love I’m seeking in terms of intimate relationships say friendships. And the third what I’m seeking from the community which is roughly known as fame. One is looking for all that because all of it one thinks, ‘when I get love from all these sources, I must be worthy of love, self-love.
- One can never do anything for self-love, one can only do ever things from self-love.
- Leadership for me is creating new worlds. And that is done by starting to think in new ways. As you create your world through thoughts. So the task of us as leaders at the individual and collective levels is to choose love. To choose thoughts of love, peace, abundance, and wholeness and not get carried away by fear
- Once you drop the ‘I’ trouble and begin to seek life in its beauty and wholeness, miraculous things happen.
- It’s not like a leader does everything, he/ she just creates a space for the emergence of beautiful things to happen. It happens when we are anchored in love, we are anchored in the peace of the heart.
How do we build pathways to love? What were personal pathways or moments of shift?
Amrita- A part of me was always seeking. I kept on seeking and I kept on doing what I call spiritual shopping. Then somehow one day, I arrived at a place and I just knew, this is it. I doubled down on the inward journey. Now, this inward journey is continuing to find new ways for external expression. We all have the same dreams, same challenges, we call it by different names. But at the end of the day, we are all seeking the same thing.
Arun - After a few years in my career, the question which became critical for me was, “How can evolution be centered around the evolution of human beings? How can business be the means for evolutions of humans, planets, and so on?” and that led to the starting of Pragati. When we started with love, compassion, and care, people said we were trying to make snowballs in hell.
If you want to catch a fish, I won’t put Belgium chocolate on the hook. Fish want worms. So when we talk with businesses, we don’t talk about love or spirituality, we ask, ‘Do you want more engagement, more innovation, more integration? You want leaders to take responsibility? They say yes yes yes. Then we say mindfulness, spirituality is the way. Yet, we don’t keep all of it in a separate box. We make them into And. I can be an outstanding coach only when I’m anchored in the sacredness of who I’m and I can see the sacredness of the other person vividly and clearly
Yogesh- We are trying to change the wheels of the vehicle that’s already in motion. We cannot aim to have ideological purity. But we can keep on iterating-reiterating. If we have enough people to iterate, then we have the opportunity to ordain a new reality.
There could be 2 approaches to lead when we talk about balancing outer goals and inner exploration. One focusing on inner development and accepts outer success in whatever form it comes as a derivative and the second, focusing on outer success (eg. maximizing shareholder value) while building a culture of "conscious" engagement. Both sound similar but what is put as the primary objective can make a radical difference in the outcomes. Any reflections?
Arun - If you define success in a limited way like you limit it by saying money then you might end up trapping yourself into understanding life in a very limited way. We all know we cannot survive without oxygen even for a few minutes, it's vital. But what would it mean if all I did was collect oxygen cylinders because oxygen is vital? Oxygen is just a means for you to live a beautiful loving life but what kind of life is it where we end up collecting oxygen cylinders. In the same way in the business whenever we end up defining business in a holistic way, there are different kinds of values. There is a spiritual value, emotional value, physical value, learning value, intellectual value, community value, environmental value, clean air value, hundred of values, I think the problem becomes a lot easier.
If your inner work is expanded, wholesome and open-hearted, the outer world is bound to grow. If you are anchored in love, no mind, anchored in peace and wholeness of heart then you work from that space from happiness and not for happiness. The outer world would unfold in the way your life wants it and not the way your ego wants it, your ambition wants it. That’s the trust you need to have.
Keep walking in the sun of love and the shadow of outer success would follow. Even if it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter as you are focused on the real thing that is the infinite love of heart.
Yogesh - My hypothesis is anything that happens which is not from a space of love is an adaptive behavior that we unconsciously formed in absence of experience of love. The adaptive behaviors can take many many forms, be it ambitions or any other substitutions.
You can go from “knowing to knowledge” but “knowledge to knowing” is an arduous journey.
Knowledge gives you the illusion of knowing.
We are wired to lose empathy as we gain more power and influence. How does a leader remain mindful of that?
Yogesh - There is only one thing that we cannot do as leaders and that is to have answers. When a leader presents the answers, it blunts the intelligence in the room.
Arun - Firstly, we need leaders operating from “no mind”, no ‘I’. We need them to meditate and dissolve their I into an ocean of love. Secondly, to hold a humongous vision, and hold that vision by saying its not their vision but life’s vision. Say yes to the vision and the Universe would make it happen. And thirdly don’t be a spade or a heart or a club, be a joker, be flexible. Leaders are the ones who are wholesome and are flexible to life
Amrita - I embrace myself into the inward journey, being an instrument through which music flows.
What practices can be useful to reorient ourselves to lead with love
Arun - Take time to be still and listen to what is happening within and out. Take time to be in the moment. Few pauses in a day, develop your muscle of presence and mindfulness. Look at the good within you and others.
Amrita - Cultivating our trust muscle is also an important practice that comes from the space of trusting yourself and trusting others. Fear exists when we are stepping into an unknown space. But if you trust that there is energy within you and around you that will carry you, it just becomes a more adventurous journey to the unknown and you just know that you would be guided.
Yogesh - Allow yourself to breathe into what is and not be resistant to the truth of the present moment. Also, it's important to examine yourself and avoid any “spiritual bypassing”. In order to heal, we need to feel what we need to feel. And we need to heal what we need to heal, in order to more deeply feel.
In this interconnected world, as leaders how might we dissolve a polarizing tendency of people inside my clan and outside? How do we blur this inside circle and outside circle tendency, and move towards leadership for the welfare of all, which is generative for all and not zero-sum?
Yogesh- Referring to Ramanmaharishi. A: There are no others and B: The only sin is forgetting that. If something is appearing as a zero-sum game, you don’t need to change it, stop seeing it as a zero-sum game. When you take self out of the equation, there is no zero-sum game.
I think of it as spaces where no one is neutralizing what others are saying. Everyone is choicelessly adding to what someone is saying
Arun - The only time we have is now. And you need to trust, people who need your love and compassion would come to you and you just need to serve them. This moment is all you have so try to love, be compassionate, be respectful to everyone in front of me. And I need to do it now and not postpone.
Amrita My prayer is each and everyone finds a path of discovering and finding what we call generically as your spiritual calling or spiritual path. You will find when you start looking, it could be in the form of a song or a book or a spiritual master, whatever supports and reconnect with the sense of divinity that exists within you and once you find it, hold on to it, enjoy it, celebrate it and allow it to manifest it in the world in this really short it we are in. So just live in it.
Arun - The key is to remember that you are “divine, sacred, complete” and “nothing” at the same time. You are whole (infinite) and nothing ( zero) at the same time. Remind it to yourself by regular meditation and let that infinite love, infinite peace. Let it guide you to what to do next and keep asking ‘what would love do now’. Take these baby steps of love and legacies would happen.
Yogesh - What I find empowering is knowing that what I do and can’t do can’t make me less worthy of love. Everyone from a priest to a pedophile deserves the same amount of love. The fact that we are here now on this planet makes us worthy of love. The odds of a sperm and an egg to manifest into human form are one in 3.4 billion. Nothing that we do in this life will beat those odds, not building colonies on Mars or inventing vaccines for COVID. The fact that we are here is you have won the lottery already. The only thing that can happen is you forget. So you need to remind yourself or you need a community that reminds you that you are a course of nature first.
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