The Multi-Dimensional Leader
To address the real challenges, we need leaders who are grounded in ethics and spirituality, who are trained in both social power and personal power.
One of my students said to me recently, that people told him we should just change ourselves instead of trying to change others, and what did I think of that? I told him, that people said that because it’s easier to change ourselves. But we also have a responsibility to society.
I said, here’s a question, “Can morality be taught, or are you born with it?” He said, “Born with it – You’re either good or not, people can’t be changed.” So I said, “Well, what if we have a society where no one was born with morality? What if there are no spiritual leaders in that society?”
There is a moral war taking place in Thailand and the world. We are in dire need of leaders who are grounded in ethics and spirituality, who will address the real challenges, not merely those who care solely for their positions. We need people who recognize the overall trends of events, sense the deep needs of the people whom they govern, and have the courage to stand up to their convictions and lead the way.
There are an endless number of situations where the short term solutions seem so simple, but end up creating a miasma of problems for society as a whole. It is when the moral imperative conquers the easy way out, that we start to find our way out of the labyrinth.
Often, action occurs only when morality is accompanied by pressure. But this sometimes takes far too long. When the country is in a crisis, what we truly need are leaders who can embody that combination of morality plus pressure, of whom we can say, here comes the action.
I started to work with Thai politicians when I returned to live in my native Thailand for the second time three years ago. I had always wanted to be a politician myself, but I didn’t know how I could get past the language barrier in Thailand, or the racial barrier in the US – and so I thought that I could use my PR and teaching skills to coach political leaders. I thought that I could contribute to society through the good works of others.
I started by helping two candidates for Bangkok Governor. After that, a few politicians from the two main parties came to me by word of mouth. I am most interested in developing a new generation of politicians – and by new, I do not mean by age, but by heart and commitment.
Choosing the leaders…
In choosing the people that I work with, I borrow from Plato’s, Ethics, where he describes 3 types of friends: those with whom you have history, those who can do something for you, and those with character. He says, choose character – it lasts longer.
My methods are based on Spirituality. My theories are probably closest to the Zen Buddhist philosophy, with heavy influence from Christianity, and from holistic healing and energy work.
I utilize my training in philosophy, psychology, and communications in order to help bring out the best in the leaders that I coach. There are intrinsic qualities in every leader, from teenagers to young MPs, to the ministerial level – And the spiritual quality of this center is what I hope to affect – because from there, flows everything.
The Zen Universe…
In our universe, everything is constantly evolving – both people and events – and it now seems that the changes are occurring at warp speed. We are presently faced with new challenges requiring a new type of leader who can keep up with the times.
There are two types of people: those who only use their five senses (see, hear, touch, smell, taste), and those who are multi-sensory (emotion, intellect, intuition). When a person can switch back and forth between his five senses & his intuition, I call this person multi-dimensional. He instinctively uses the best methods & the best people.
The new leader is a Multi-Dimensional Leader, who can tap into universal power – and awaken to The Ultimate Reality, as taught by the Zen masters. I coach them to See This Reality. Sometimes that’s all they need. – I help them to sense the spiritual feel of the situation – after that, the action is all theirs.
When we understand the Ultimate Reality, we begin to realize that there is unlimited knowledge in the universe that we can call upon. Carl Jung coins it, the “Collective Unconscious”, that vast psychic ocean where all the streams of human knowledge merge.
From chaos can emerge patterns of events and thoughts from which we can pull wisdom. Sometimes, if we can read between the lines of world events or national events, we can even predict the future. At the very least, if we understand synchronicity, we can be immune from shock and paralyzed action, because we can see how things fit into an emerging pattern.
We cannot predict every problem that will occur, but we can have trained leaders who understand the events, and know how to use new knowledge to solve new problems. The very well-trained Multi-Dimensional Leader will also be able to not only see the moment, but also to look beyond the moment into his vision for our future.
There is an objective energy in the universe, called the Life force, or ‘The Way’, that is studied extensively by practitioners of Taoism. To hook into this powerful energy, we need only find the path and get on it. I help people to do this by guiding them to find their passion and purpose in life. I ask them what is it that they can do 24 hours a day, without thought for time or money, because they love it so much. And then I help them to find a way to make it an integral part of their lives.
So often, people operate from a point of weakness because they are trying to fulfill someone else’s dream, someone else’s expectations. They have given away their personal power, because they are not authentic.
During election campaigns, we can easily see whether a politician is presenting his authentic self or whether he has utilized a public relations gimmick. Millions of baht have been thrown away on promotions that don’t work because the people sense the fakeness of the effort. Even worse is when they temporarily believe the campaigns and have to suffer the consequences later, when they find out the true nature of their leaders.
Entering into the spirit…
Last year, I spoke to one of my former students from Vajiravudh, and got updates on all of the boys. Half of the talk was about their studies, and the other half was about their girlfriends. I surprised my student when I was able to describe completely, the look and personality of each boy’s girlfriends over the past two years. I was just taking a guess. But I was so accurate, that he told me: “Khun Pamela, if you were born 200 years ago, you would be burned for being a witch.”
How did I do it? I entered into their spirit. If you can just relax and think of a person: what it feels like to be in their presence, what their aura feels like, and go closer, deeper into what they feel like and think like – and then feel from their hearts, and think with their minds – you may be able to see with their eyes, what they want. And people tend to draw to themselves, events and people who connect on a subconscious level. That’s how I did it. I imagined myself as them, and I imagined the girls in their hearts.
If we could use this kind of understanding, if we could enter into the spirit of people from other cultures, we could truly achieve peace – since we would be, as the American Indians say, “walking in another man’s moccasins”. Imagine if Thai leaders could do this with the people in the South– or if George Bush could do this with the people in Iraq.
When we think of power, we normally think of a socially based power, which is role based, and where image is important. Legitimacy is obtained from contracts, position, and awards. Those people who have the power to reward and punish, those who have the most technical skill, the most knowledge, and the most money – can achieve control. But theirs is a finite world. Their power is a limited power – the winners divide a limited pie.
More powerful are the people who have spiritual power. This is a personal power, gained from stillness (wisdom), focus (economy of life force and energy), balance (yin yang), and flexibility (shift the battlefield, ability to let go). To achieve personal power, we need only harness the mind. In the Dhammapada, it is written, “The greatest warrior conquers himself.” Personal power expresses itself in charisma. The leader can reach this through the use of authenticity, belief, and vision.
The Multi-Dimensional Leader develops his personal power so that he can be centered on an unlimited resource. He is also an expert in societal power, which he uses to manipulate situations as necessary. I try to get the leaders to always return to the use of spiritual power because that is a growth catalyst. It is like the difference between giving people cut flowers and giving them a potted plant. You notice the difference after about three days.
The best way to use techniques…
In “Jeet Kun Do”, Bruce Lee said: Learn the basics and then forget them. I advocate that we shed the dogma and the forms, and repetitive details that are taught us. They were only training tools, like training wheels on a bicycle, or the cage on wheels that babies use to learn how to walk. Once we find our balance, and our center, the dogma and forms and details become like the container that must be tossed aside so that we can create, and lead, freely.
In old style politics, position is viewed as an honor, not as a platform for service. The job of an MP or Senator is rewarded to people for previous favors or for money. Because of this, there is an endless round of money for votes, and corruption follows, in order to recoup the amount spent on elections.
Society is like a farmland for growing influence and reaping rewards for the powerful. People are fooled with unsustainable schemes, and national campaigns are devoid of real meaning and results.
New Generation Leaders…
We should create a new generation of leaders who are spiritually powerful, and focused on service to society, who use politics as an opportunity to take action, and not for personal reward.
There are many promising young politicians, who are well educated, and dynamic, but many of them are lazy from relying on their charm since birth, and do not have the persistence to back up their words with thorough research and detailed action plans. But they do have a desire to be outstanding. I tell them that they must know what the people want, and have what they need. Unfortunately, in a year of political turmoil, junior leaders must tread carefully in order to stay viable. And they often end up being mouthpieces for the agendas of their seniors.
But still, these sharp young men and women can be positive role models for the people. If the people see that there are good MPs, they will be encouraged to vote, and they will vote for the right reasons. But being a good role model is more than just looking good, and sounding good, it requires a lot of hard work.
Teachers as leaders…
A teacher is a dispenser of chances, and a provider of knowledge that is already desired by the students – who come when they are ready. It is basically a situation of the Truth Within, recognizing the Truth Without. Everything about you, as a teacher of academic students, is magnified when you teach leaders, and so you must begin to transform yourself into the role of a leader, rather than a teacher. Leaders cannot be taught the truth, they can only be led to the knowledge that they have within themselves already.
Last year, a teenager asked me, “What is the difference between the knowledge of computers and the knowledge of people, and can machines think?” My answer to his question led me to further develop my own concept of Truth. You see – people knowledge is different from machine knowledge because we seek the truth, and truth changes constantly.
Truth is a living organism, just like Law. In order to manage an evolving society, we must ourselves evolve as leaders. And then, we must continuously update the laws so that they can govern the evolving people, and the evolving society, according to our new needs, and our new knowledge.
One day, I was working with my favorite politician on the subject of Knowing, and he said to me, “I think knowledge is there all the time.” This is the linkage between Christian and Buddhist wisdom. In the Bible, it says: “God is truth.” “God is the Alpha and the Omega”: The beginning and the end. Buddhist insight meditation allows us access this knowledge by clearing out the day’s pollution from our minds, and seeing what is contained there for us with clear vision.
I believe that we that we can all experience – knowing – if we are still, and have an open mind. We can help each other, by pointing the way and asking the right questions. We exist together as a whole, and we are part of the successes and failures of that whole.
Morality can be taught. Society needs moral leaders to do this teaching. As with societal sins, our personal sins start as small conveniences, and lead us on a long descent into sickness. At what point along that road, do we turn back? Any time we choose. We just become unhealthier, the longer we wait.
During the past few years, there has been an increased appreciation worldwide for the subject of holistic healing. Modern western medicine treats the body as separate from our spirit. But we must realize that we have a soul. I would like to take this one step further – I believe our world has a spirit.
Like the individual human being, society also is a holistic body. We cannot separate ourselves from it just as we cannot separate leaders from followers. The leaders are the soul of the society. (That is why the King is called the Soul of the Nation.) When the leaders do bad things, the society suffers – both physically and emotionally.
Do we really think that the floods are an accident? -Or the violence in the South? The downward spiral of events in Thailand in recent years parallels the rampant, unchecked development of the country. This course of events is epitomized by the actions of top business and political leaders, who pillaged the country with professional efficiency.
It is simple to see the synchronicity of recent events (tsunami, bird flu, floods, political upheaval), as the physical embodiment of uncontained sins (prostitution, gambling, murder, corruption). And taking this example into world events, we can begin to understand the increased incidences of earthquakes and genocide. Follow the signs: this is a holistic society, a holistic body. To heal the world, we must address the causes, not just the symptoms.
We have a duty, as leaders – to take action. We should embrace our role as our purpose. Christian teachings say, “Of him, to whom much is given, much is expected.” Hollywood lingo says, “You don’t use it, you lose it.”