The Mindful Leader

#12: Selfless and Servant Leadership in Modern Workplace with Katrijn Van Oudheusden

December 19, 2022 Reiner Kraft, PhD Season 1 Episode 12
The Mindful Leader
#12: Selfless and Servant Leadership in Modern Workplace with Katrijn Van Oudheusden
Show Notes Transcript

If you're active on social media, you probably know the term "quiet-quitting," which has been the latest workplace buzzword over the last couple of months. 

It describes a rebellion against the workplace culture of going above and beyond. 

This term shows how problematic the workplace is nowadays: the employees are unhappy in their position or are experiencing burnout as their bosses keep pressuring them to do more work. 

Sure enough, it will cause a massive loss for the organization. 

This is why leaders should embrace selflessness and servant leadership to be successful. 

In this podcast episode, Katrijn van Oudheusden shares her expertise and insights around the topic of selfless and servant leadership in the modern workplace. 

You will learn the following:

What is selflessness in leadership
Different traits that define servant leadership
How to facilitate change through servant leadership 

Listen to the podcast and let us know your thoughts in the comment! 

Yours,
Reiner 

#selfawareness #selflessleadership #servantleadership #mindfulness #podcast #newworkplace #burnout #mentalhealth #leadership #techleader #success #quietquitting

Hi, this is Reiner, founder of The Mindful Leader and host of The Mindful Leader Podcast. I'm happy today here to have a special guest, Katrijn van Oudheusden. And this will be - it's a special episode around really going deeper into leadership. In the past few weeks, even months, I have talked a lot about management. I've talked a lot about biohacking stuff, upgrading your mind, and a high-performance mind. So a lot of those topics that, of course, relevant to leadership. But now, really going also deeper into different types of leadership. I'm sure that many of you listening to this podcast have heard about the idea of servant leadership, sometimes also called selfless leadership. That's why I'm happy to have Katrijn here because she's an expert on this topic. She has focused and zoomed in on this idea of selfless leader leadership, servant leadership. She is the author of the book on this topic as well, selfless leadership. She is an executive coach, and she runs the website with all the details on selflessleadership.life - we will link all that stuff in the show notes. I met Katrijn about a year ago; we talked about some conferences going on, and we had some exchanges. And it became clear that this idea of selfless servant leadership, in my opinion, is already also a little bit more advanced topic for leaders to really get going onto this. As we start talking about it, you'll see some symptoms: Is a leader ready for this? So we'll dive into this topic as well. And we'll also look at its effectiveness. But of course, all it is always trade-offs. We know about that. But all those things we'll find out soon in this episode. So there will be a lot of practical and actionable advice that you can try out for sure. I'll make sure that we always have some actionable stuff in there. With that said, welcome again, Katrijn. Glad to have you here! Thank you very much for having me, Reiner. I'm looking forward to our conversation. Yes, I'm as well. So maybe Katrijn, we can get started. Maybe first, share a little bit about your own story. What brought you here, basically going back, and what got you into this whole topic of servant leadership or selfless leadership? Yeah, so I've had a very traditional career in the sense that I studied law. And then, I spent 20 years in organizational development positions, different versions, moved from law to project management, and then from project management to change management and organizational development. And I've been in different roles. So I was a staff member to the board to the executive board, Chief of Staff in healthcare and in universities, and also an external management consultant in the area of change management and organizational development. And overall, this time, I learned all the classical tools and ideas, mechanisms for cultural change, change management, and leadership development because that's a big part of improving organizations. And this was all very normal, I think, most people would yawn a bit. But it wasn't that successful, as we know about change management, lots of initiatives, lots of stuff going on, but not a lot of effect. And the same happened in leadership development. So many initiatives and programs were being set up, especially as external consultants. We were always creating new leadership development structures. And then something happened in my personal life. So it was more that I went through a personal, private transformation, you could say in the sense that we'll talk about this later, I guess, insights about: Who am I as a human being? What is my true self? What is my ego? Ultimately answering the questions also, why am I here? And what am I doing at work? And this personal transformation, at a certain point, moved into my work because, of course, we're people at work as well; we're human beings. And it became clear that as human beings trying to work together, we're most limited by our egos, our concepts of self, the defectiveness, the grandness, the arrogance, and the self-defectiveness that most people bring as human beings into the work environment. So it became much clearer to me that the failure or the lack of change and leadership development had to do with this basic problem of seeing ourselves as separate, limited egos stuck in our little bubbles and projecting these limits, limits, and leaves on to our work environment. Yeah, very good. And that can cause many problems if there is too much ego in the work environment or too many egos in the work environment that can lead to quite some toxic work environments, which I've been through. Yes, we all have. Very good. So there was a transformation that you described there. And then, yeah, to get a sense of it, how did this transformation affect you? Or how did it work out, what kind of timeframe, and what was the outcome? I guess we could say it really happened over a period of almost 10 years. So it was quite long. And it started when I did an intensive with somebody called Byron Katie. She works a lot with limiting beliefs. And in this intensive, I really saw for myself that the things I believed about myself and, consequently, about other people were just constructs in my mind. So you talk a lot about mind management. And part of that is also seeing these limiting beliefs and letting go of them. And this was really what I saw very clearly in that, in that workshop, nine days actually of questioning limiting beliefs. So this created the first opening really to see, okay, if there's a limitation, I'm doing this to myself, and other people are doing it to themselves. And following that, I started reading and practicing more and more in this area of non-duality. And non-duality is a perennial philosophy that you can find in all wisdom traditions, whether Buddhism or Sufism. Most form the core of world religious traditions. But they all say the same thing. And that is that the separate self is an illusion. The ego is a construct and an illusion. And what we really are, is universal consciousness or awareness. And reading about this, doing practices that are that help us see this for ourselves, created over these many years, and I can't give you an exact moment, or this is the AHA or where it happened, but allowed me to see to a certain extent, okay, I am not a separate self. I am universal awareness, as you are and as we all are. Yeah. Yes. The first point you talked about was Byron Katie. And yeah, I also really like her work. It's very effective. And it's working on limiting thoughts and false beliefs, but later on, reactive patterns based on those are a critical part of what I refer to as mind management. So it goes well beyond meditation. And people always think, meditations and mindfulness, and then we'll add to leadership, but it's much more, right? And I'm glad that you bring these topics up. They're all part of actually how to upgrade your mind. And then the illusion of the self. That's, for most leaders who are new to this topic, have heard about mindful leadership, and then they're hearing about this illusion of the ego. When I first heard about it was quite advanced and something to grasp. How could you describe it basically, for people who are really new to this idea of wanting to get into this a little bit more? Could it be described as applying less ego to leadership, or what would simplify the concept of non-duality? The hardware-software analogy I like most because it's so present to us now. So basically, we were hardware, a body and the mind, the brain, including an operating system, and over the course of our lives, and this starts when we're born, or even before that, we don't know. But the whole operating system is extremely powerful: All about learning and developing. So it a baby, from the time it's born, it starts assimilating and internalizing beliefs, facts also reality and okay, if I, you know, if I touched fire, it'll hurt, things like that, but also beliefs about identity. So we start to form this identity. And the fact that a baby or a small child needs to learn that it is an identity, that it is a self and separate from others, already gives us an indication that this is a kind of like an app that downloads itself onto our system, and then starts referring to itself. So the self-referencing thoughts, this is like an, a new app that installs itself on our system. And over the course of our lives, it gets bigger, more concrete, and often clearer, but it also changes over time because there were beliefs that you had, maybe when you were 10 years old, that you don't have now, or you won't have in five years. So this constructs you could really compare it with a bunch of software on your system. Now the thing is what we try to do if we know about the self, or in our society, we learn to create a strong individual self construct the whole process in school at work, our parents' society is about okay, become a beneficial, effective individual, improve yourself learn new things become more confident. The flavors are endless of what is the right answer to this becoming a good person. A separate self. But it's all a process of learning and becoming. Now the thing is that we can come to see, really see in the sense of experience, that this is a construct. And this allows us to go beyond it. I like the analogy. I also used to talk about brain hardware and mind software. The ego is like its output of it. So it's very similar. And I like this scenario. Yeah. So that means the self. What do you believe that you are the ego, the egoic mind, the story of your life? So that seems like it's basically an app? Yes, we downloaded it at a very early age. And yeah, it's interesting to see, right? When babies are still like, even before they are, when they are maybe just when their turn become toddlers, you notice that? This, at some point, there is this, "oh, this is mine," right? So when you give them some toys, they want to play, and then some other kid comes and tries to grab the toy. And then all it's my toy, right? And then they start to fight around it. So this is when you know the ego is there. It's already uploaded in, but I like this software that basically accumulates stuff. It's getting bigger and more and more. It's like this becomes this monster at some point, this monster piece of software. So that means non-duality; achieving a state of non-duality is basically getting rid of this piece of software or making it slimmer. No. See, that's important to distinguish because, as we might talk about this in a second, we think that we are the software developer, that we're the software engineer, and that we can go in there and rewrite the code. But the point is that all of this is happening by itself. You didn't download the app, the app installed itself, and this app runs itself, and there is no software engineer. So okay, now it gets interesting, right? So as an engineer, obviously, I understand this app now; it even installed itself without me wanting to have it, but I simply got it which I don't actually like right. But it has advantages, right? A sense of self is also needed to manage life. Yeah, yeah, exactly. There are benefits to the app, so that's why I said it earlier. Not getting rid of it might be what's needed. But making it slimmer, more effective, and just to the bare minimum of what's needed to navigate life is right. But it looks like it's something that you're saying. So you're not the software engineer who now goes in how to takes this app and starts to, to, I don't know, debug it and improve it. So how do I get it slimmer? Yeah, so the point is, we can't. We can't do anything. And this is the most counterintuitive of four insights I have for this selfless leadership, which is the first one is we're being lived. And it says that we believe that we are in control. So part of the app that installs itself is also a belief in not only yourself but a belief in control and responsibility. So I make decisions, decide whether to go to university or not, take up a new position, etc. So we believe in this control and responsibility. However, if we look at practices and exercises, we can see that this is part of self-illusion. So not only does the app create a sense of self, it creates the illusion of authority and authorship. It's actually called the false sense of authorship. We can see that not only is there no software engineer, but we're also unable to remove this app, decrease it, or make it less heavy. None of that is possible. But what we can do, interestingly, is that by seeing this by going outside of the hardware-software system because we are more than hardware and software. And that's where it's getting interesting because if we can increase awareness and perception, we can see how the hardware-software system works. And it is through the seeing, through the awareness, that it becomes less dense, less relevant, and less inflated. Very good. And I actually want to do a deep dive into some of those topics. There are a lot of interesting insights. So for the audience, I encourage you - if you have a chance now - to rewind about two or three minutes and listen to this part, actually, because this is critical insight, that awareness, the ability to observe, actually observing the app. Understanding what's happening there is helping to minimize or mitigate the impact, which is a fascinating concept. So it's you don't even have to rewrite some software. Yeah. But it's awareness. But before we go in, I want to talk more about awareness. And I wanted to go into those four areas that you mentioned earlier. And, of course, they're part of your book, the book, what I mentioned at the beginning, about selfless leadership. Going back here to find a high level, let's talk about first leadership concepts so that people can see how this actually ties into leadership. There is when you go into the literature, there are all different types of leadership models out there that people studied in science in all kinds of business schools. And there are plenty of books on that out there. A few years ago, when mindfulness was emerging more and more into the workplace, I remember it's probably about three, four years, four years ago; I already, at that point, had experimented with many years of applying mindfulness in the workspace. And I coined this term for myself, and I put it on my blog some time ago mindful leadership. And then I would say maybe six months, nine months later, all of a sudden, people were talking all about mindful leadership. So it became this trendy term. And more and more also about mindfulness and applying it to the workspace in parallel. The term servant leadership has been used a lot, and people want to become servant leaders. So there's a little bit of context here. Maybe share just from a high level first about what you think when you hear about selfless leadership or servant leadership. How does this relate to mindful leadership or, in general, other leadership models? So, from a positioning standpoint, why should we care about it as leaders? Yeah, so that's a big question, right? And we can talk for a long time about different leadership models. The example of mindful leadership was a good one. So it feels like this is increasing in pace, right? There's a new type of leadership every month now. So there's conscious leadership, mindful leadership, empathetic leadership, and all these different flavors; the one that we're talking about today's servant leadership is also very old. But it was reintroduced as a concept by Robert Greenleaf in the 70s. And this was from a very; you could say, Christian background. So it has had a lot to do with being in service to the world. It followed the example of Jesus even though it was quite Christian. At the same time, there's a whole, you could say, aspect of Hinduism, for example, which is about selflessly serving others, that's part of doing good works, Karma Yoga. So these aspects are also centuries old. But servant leadership came back onto the scene because of the agile movement. So the Agile Manifesto, it's not in the manifesto, but Scrum Masters and others leaders in agility are defined as servant leaders. So they put others first. That's kind of the short version; they put others first before themselves. And in the meantime, there are also studies on servant leadership. These are, of course, observational, or they're not quantitative or qualitative Business Studies, usually often done by schools, business schools with this background in servant leadership, in the Greenleaf version, and what they do show is that this type of leadership is actually what we're all talking about now as so beneficial for organizations. Because it puts people first, it increases intrinsic motivation, high performance, how people feel, and the sense of belonging in a culture. So all these things that we're looking for now, servant leadership could be seen as the solution to that. But the reason I call it selfless servant leadership or selfless leadership is because I focus. I don't believe in this iterative developmental view of servant leadership. So it's a moralistic idea. If you become a good person and train yourself, make your ego small and smaller still, then one day, you will wake up and be a servant leader. My approach is kind of the opposite. Our true nature is already selfless and is naturally in service. So it's a process of discovering this, beyond the ego and beyond this app that has installed itself. And then we find that we already are this and have everything we need to be selfless in service, which is the type of leadership that I call the highest form of leadership. Now, when you hear the term selfless leadership, there is also the flip side, right? And this is this kind of weak form of leadership. I often heard arguments around this. Can you elaborate a little bit? Is it really a weaker form of leadership? Are you still a good leader if you're weak and no ego is left? It's a common misconception because it's absolutely not the case. First of all, we're not getting rid of the ego. This is something that keeps coming up, and we're not removing, we're not removing an app, we're not making it lighter. We see that we're more than that. So what happens is, if you see that you are not limited to the separate self, you see that it's a construct, and you become automatically less interested in it. So selflessness is not in the sense that I am now unselfish, which is the moral version. Selflessness is, literally, I am without, or I see through myself, I because I see that I'm less interested in myself, and I'm able to and want to be in service to others. So it's very much about it not removing its seeing, and that means that all the skills and qualities you have accumulated so far, your intelligence, skills, and capabilities, don't disappear. But they are no longer in service to my self-interest because that is not that important anymore. But the skills and qualities you put naturally in service to the world. Yes. Yeah, that's a good insight in there as well. And now, thinking about the advantages of this so the leader could say, well, I'm doing this particular leadership style. I read some books about it. Now I heard about servant leadership. And you already mentioned some of the concepts that belong to this. But what would be motivation then for a leader in terms of what would a leader get out of it? So on a high level, this is the most meaningful and fulfilling type of leadership or a form of leadership because what we want as human beings is to be in service to something more than just ourselves. If you look at the pyramid of Maslow or any type of motivation and intrinsic need, the highest is self-transcendence, and inserts being in service to others. And this style, this form of leadership, allows you to achieve that, making work meaningful; this is something we all long for. But additionally, there are concrete leadership outcomes from being able to be to demonstrate selfless leadership. For example, if I see that I'm not in control or not as much as I thought I was, it is much easier for me to let go. So to stop pushing my personal agenda onto others, I can be present with what is so it's much easier to flow with reality, this being in flow that we're all looking for, which allows me to work with the people that I meet and what is emerging without pushing or pulling them. So this is a style of leadership that creates exactly this type of co-creation and collaboration; that is really what we're trying to achieve when we're, you know, running after these new tools and skills. It's already inside us and comes out naturally when we stop believing so much in this separate self. Yes, yeah. And so I can see that that makes sense. If a leader now hears this, and some of these concepts resonate, particularly if you have this podcast, it already draws them into this whole concept of how they can evolve as a leader. Or what are things I can do to improve? And what are some symptoms that you see when you start? When, basically, when you start working with clients? As you're, as I mentioned at the beginning, you're also an executive coach. How do you know? Or maybe two for the question, how does someone know they're ready for servant leadership? And then when you're when, let's say, someone contacts you and says, Oh, yeah, I want to do it. How do you know that person is ready? Because the person may think they are ready but may not. Yeah, so the often this searching, the people I work with, they've been through endless leadership development initiatives. Usually, they've tried coaching, they've done the training, and they're very interested in proving themselves to becoming better leaders. So they've usually been through this whole carousel of leadership development in the classic sense. They still feel something is missing. And often they also read a lot of books, some of them even have programs like yourself, you know, in the mind management area, or even more spiritual practices like meditation. Because what they're trying to what they're looking for is this higher level of purpose and meaning than, "Okay, here's my team, and let's get a high-performing organization on the road." So that's this intrinsic desire to be in service and for the meaning. And it's often two types of motivations that work well. One is okay, I've tried all that, and I'm fed up with it. It doesn't work. We're still in the same stupid organization with the same egos, and it's not working. That's one type. The other is this aspirational motivation, which has to be more. There has to be a better way. I like the concept of servant leadership. I'm interested in these ideals. But I'm not getting there. So what I offer is a different way of getting there because it's not developmental isn't Do you have to learn new skills, read new books, the whole thing that we've been doing and it didn't work, it's looking within. So really, the absolute key is a readiness to be willing to look within ourselves instead of for more knowledge. Yeah, I've also seen that many leaders I work with. One told me a few weeks ago he had already read like 1000 books is an example as. Oh, wow. That's a lot. And there's nothing bad with it. It's good stuff to basically grow the intellect to read more stuff to absorb more knowledge. But it's not really getting you further. It's basically the key. What you're saying is looking inside. Start to look inside. And to do that, you need awareness, right? Yes, you were to actually notice that. And now, maybe it's good timing to talk about awareness. I use the term a lot, and I talk about awareness. I always talk about the level of present awareness or LPA. Right, you're going to measure that in terms of how much time over your waking time over the day you are fully present and connected to the present moment. And so there are all these different terminologies out there. And people, when they hear about it, awareness, maybe they think, self-awareness, self-reflection, whatever, Let's spend a moment to define this a little bit clearer when we talk about awareness. What does it mean? Yeah, so this is a simple question. But it's difficult to describe in words because I'm sure you know that already. That awareness is the way I refer to it is basically the sense of being present and aware. So the sense of being alive really, if I asked you the question, by now, do you exist? You go somewhere in your, in your mind? Or you go somewhere to answer this question with Yes, yes, I exist. It's the sense of being alive and present and existing. And interestingly enough, yes, you can increase your level of present awareness. And this has many benefits to being more present and aware. But I use it in this approach because we use awareness to see things about the personal self. So it's not a state that we have to increase, deepen, or expand; it's just, in that sense, a tool to see what we're not and what we really are. But it has nothing; it's not a meditative approach, or we need to go deeper or more. It's just what I call higher reasoning, what many people call using the mind to transcend the mind. Yes. And I think the idea of increasing the level of present awareness is more like an illustrative thing, right? At the end of the day, awareness is what you are observing. And it's basically - from a functional standpoint - that is something that recognizes things like now, let's say you're listening to this podcast, actually viewing the video, who is viewing this video, who's listening to this. So awareness itself here can't be at that point manipulated. It's not an object that can't be increased or decreased. Still, illustratively it can be quite helpful to think about this ability. Actually, you can observe because usually your focus or your attention, which awareness, it looks like for me always there is this awareness is this capability. It likes to attach itself to when anything comes up can be solid, and it can be something around you, some noise, whatever it is, it detaches and then gets sawed into it. And so that, that is basically what I sometimes refer to the monkey mind, which is, bring your awareness back and forth with all those different things. Now, why would a leader now care about awareness, right? Because if you tell them awareness is so fundamental, even as I said earlier, I think they think about self-awareness and self-reflection, but why is awareness the crucial point in this transformation or in this journey of selfless leadership? Without awareness, there's not much we can do, right? Yeah, so, without awareness, we're stuck in this limited separate self. So in This hardware-software combination. And awareness is that in which the software-hardware combination appears. So if we're able to, and it's again, just words zoom out and disentangle ourselves from the complete focus on ourselves on the beliefs and the identity, we can see that the separate self appears inside of our awareness; it appears within us. And that gives us access to more than just the mind. So more than the limited self, so we can really go beyond ourselves and be from that position or be from there. And this allows us, for example, just a small example of real innovation. Creative thought comes from beyond the self. It arises out of, you could say, the universe or awareness, and having access to it already needs means you can't be completely focused on your thoughts and sensations, and perceptions. Because then you have no access to this new creative thought coming up. idea coming up. Yeah. Basically, on one side, when we talked earlier in this episode about evolving the mind, I usually use the term mind management; we talked about limiting thoughts. So those are all things; working inside the mind and awareness at that point is critical for actually doing this. But then it seems there is sometimes more. Yeah, there is a point in time when we can say, okay, let's know it's good we, we have dealt with the mind, we have managed it, we tended, let's look beyond right now, to do this, there is in that book, what I definitely highly recommend, we'll put a link in the show notes for those who are interested or possibly even ready to make this jump so to speak. There are four insights that you're talking about. And I think we wanted to go now into each of those four insights just a little bit. So people get a sense of what you're what the book is about. And in each of these insights, there is also a business that one can do. So maybe describe the journey. If someone says, " Yeah, this is great, I want to try this out, I want to get going," maybe share a high-level approach to those insights and the practices. And then maybe we can pick the first one and jump right into that. Yeah, so we discussed the first one already, which is the insight that we are being lived. And all of these insights come with illusions we've learned to believe. So the false beliefs around this, and the false belief around that is, well, look, you're 100% in control of your life, you're responsible, you're the doer. So this first insight is about seeing that that's not true, we are being lived just as a cat is being captured or a tree is being treated. That is, life flows through us in the same way. We're not different. They're human beings. However, we have this app on the top, which, as we discussed, is the self-referencing app that creates a sense of self. The second insight, which is kind of related to the first one, is that we are also not this set of limiting beliefs about ourselves, or any beliefs about ourselves, whether limiting or positive for us. This whole illusion of the self is a construct of a house of cards of beliefs that we slowly build up. And we can see that it's, we can pull the bottom card out of the stack, and it collapses. This is, again, all just an analogy because, of course, yourself doesn't disappear. It doesn't have to, but you see how the construct is created. So many people. And we talked about this already as well. You're stuck in these beliefs. And it's possible to go beyond them. The result of seeing these beliefs one or insights one and two is the third one, which is that we're really all connected as human beings. Because if I see clearly that I'm not limited to a separate self that is just an app running on my software. Then I can see also that I'm in permanent connection with everything around me. And so are you, and so is everybody else. And so this is actually a concept that in quantum physics is now it's not really in our everyday understanding yet, but that the unit Verse is universal conscious awareness and not separated to individual bodies is becoming more known. And this is the opposite of seeing. I'm not a separate self. So if I'm not a separate self, what am I? We have everything; there are no borders between you and me. So this is a profound next understanding that flows from these first three insights. So then if we, if we look at the first three, okay, I'm not a separate doer, I'm new in every moment, and I'm not my beliefs, and we're all connected. That means I am literally a self-learner. I am not a separate self; I'm selfless. And if I'm selfless, I am not interested in myself. I am free. I am here as part of the universe University, as a leader of being in sync and in connection with everything; what results from that is I still go to work, I'm still here, and I'm still doing things. The only thing left to do is service. So the results of the first three are really the fourth insight that we are selfless service. And it's not; that's part of the fourth one we don't. So it's not something we have to achieve or do or become. It's something that we see deeply what we really are. And this leads naturally to the result of selfless service. Yes and no. So going into this in the first one, right, when you mentioned we talked about the illusion of control, we are being left as the first one. Now, in the book, then you share, and also in your co-chains, right, you share four practices. Could we like get a sneak peek at one concrete practice just to get a sense of how these practices work, right, or how motivation beats it? So there is practice; practice makes perfect. So even here, there has to be some practice that needs to be done. And I think getting a flavor of that could be helpful for someone thinking about how this all works out, right? Yeah, the first insight is actually the most difficult or counterintuitive because we've been trained so long in this; you are a separate self and in control. And it doesn't mean. So what we're looking at is, are we the doer of our deeds? Are we the thinker of our thoughts? Or do they just appear? Like a tree grows a new branch? It's not because the tree decided, at least we don't think that way the tree decided, oh, look, there's a hole, you know, there's a gap here, let me grow a branch right here. It is grown. Right. So it's part of the natural organic development of a tree. So same, as human beings, we have this hardware-software combination that runs itself. But we believe that a separate person in there micromanaging everything. So I have to decide to do something. Now, here's where it gets interesting because one of these four practices for this first insight, for example, is to find to try to find the decider of your decisions. So this is an example of something you can do right

now:

think of your last, the last, just a recent decision you made. It might have been listening to this podcast, right? You decided to look at the app, open the podcast, and click on the run for the session. So the question is, Where did this decision come from? Not the causal, not your explanation for why you did that. Where in your experience? Did the decision arise? So usually, people will say, well, the thought came up, right? The thought came up; we say I decided it was a thought that emerged. There's the podcast. Let me go listen. And then you did. The question is, where did this thought come from? Did you do the thought? Did you create it? What if you look closely? No, it just appeared. The thought could have appeared. I'll go and eat some chocolate cake. But what happened was the

thought:

I'll listen to the podcast. So it's even crazier because actually, the actual deed of listening to the podcast is not causally related to the thought. I want to listen to the podcast because otherwise, we would always do exactly what we decide and think. And from your own experience, you can see that at least half the time; you do something completely different. So this is The type of exercise that starts to show you how this self and sense of doership is constructed. Yeah, that's this. I liked this example. And so just to clarify here, so the thought pops up about, oh, yeah, let's, let's listen to this podcast. So let's just say that came up from somewhere; who knows? Randomly it just popped up. And now the decision is the decision at the end and also sought. Good question. Yes. So if you look closely, it's actually the case that you do something. Or, to be more precise, your body does something, namely listening to the podcast; this might be there might be a thought in parallel. Well, yes, I want to. I decide to listen to the podcast. But in many of our activities, there's no corresponding thought at all. We just do stuff. So it's only when these personal self-narrates are already happening, actions, that we believe that we made a decision. So just because I say to myself, as I've learned to do, well, yeah, and now I'm deciding to listen to a podcast has no relation to the fact of whether we actually do or do not. Yeah, I think that's a difficult one. Yeah. I'm sure for some of the listeners, right, because so I could see that sort of merge. Let's listen to the podcast. It could be another sort of that. You mentioned that. Oh, yeah, that sounds interesting. Or another one could be, "Oh, I'm too busy. I have so many other things going on. It's a waste of time." So multiple sites are popping up? Yes. And then what you finally do can be something that is not under your control. It's not you who decide because how often do you think, "Well, yes. Now I'll listen to the podcast," and then you do something completely different. Right, exactly. So whatever actions happen, somehow they happen. The question will still be whether someone or something is deciding what that action is, right? So you get all those signals in? And they couldn't even be contradictory? As I said, in this example, some say, Yeah, listen, maybe something else, don't listen. Or maybe there is no thought at all. But then there is there's always the next step; there is now something I feel here very concrete, I have to go to my, let's say, my smartphone, or I go to a computer or wherever I basically click some button to start first select the podcast and click play. Right. So that needs to happen. So isn't this action at the end of the day? Or is there still some? There has to be some decision logic that kicks in to actually trigger the finger to physically press on this, right? Yes, the same decision logic that beats your heart, digests your food and grows a tree that makes the cat say meow and not woof. It's the same; it's the decision logic of life. But we have created a separation. So we have created a ghost in the machine, the machine runs itself, hardware, software, genetic factors, how you've your experiences as a five-year-old, your last experiences of listening to podcasts and liking them or hating them. All of these millions of variables, all interacting, right? In a quantum universe where everything is interrelated. But no, we say, Oh, I'm a little ego. I control this decision. It's because I think I want to listen to a podcast that happens. So this is seeing this clearly is the ultimate humility. Your ego simply becomes it doesn't disappear. But it comes much less; it automatically, you know, becomes much smaller because you see that you're not this separate little control thing doing stuff you're being lived. So, how could someone get motivated now to try this out later today? How could someone go about it? Should someone sit back, meditate with someone, hike, or think about it? What's the best way to take all this practice? Yeah, so this particular practice, I mean, the thing is the 16 practices, I have the insights they build up on each other. So it's not, you know, you need to have a good sense of what you are beyond the mind, this awareness to be able to do these practices well, so that's why it really requires a bit of preparation. On the other hand, the way to do all of these practices is to observe. So it's dispassionate, using awareness to observe what is happening in your experience dispassionately. And at first, this uses the mind a bit; eventually, it goes beyond the mind to observe the mind. So it would be, for example, during the day, this particular practice, I recommend that you set a timer, for example, and on the hour, every hour, you go back and see, okay, what decision do I want to examine? For example, listening to the podcast, or just, it doesn't matter whether it's small or big, to look, in a science almost scientific way, how did this happen? And by looking directly, you prove this to yourself? So it's not because I just told you this. And it sounds interesting. Yes, you need to hear it first. This alternative point of view, but then you check for yourself, in your experience. Well, how does it happen for me, and it's this that proves the stuff to you, not because you read it or like it? Let's experience it. Now, since we only have a few minutes left, you offer a think seven-week program, where you work with people interested in this topic one-on-one. And you will go through those four insights through all those exercises, as far as understanding, in the seven weeks. Now, what are some of the participants once they can go through? What's the experience of how this impacts their life, their impact on leadership? And maybe related to this? Is their success for them indeed, that when they go through it, there are changes based on that? So what's the feedback from people who have already been through this so far? Yeah. So the first that happens very quickly, mainly because of this first insight, is that the stress and the anxiety of constantly wanting to improve yourself and becoming it falls away. Because you see, there's no doer; it just becomes much more relaxed. And a relaxed, non-anxious leader is a good leader. So it's definitely helpful. And this happens almost immediately. As we also discussed, the effect on other people is that before you stop pushing your agenda, you stop trying to change people, which we all automatically do, as long as we think that that's how human beings function. Right. So you see that other people are also being lived, you stop trying to do things to them. Because, you know, they're also just the hardware-software combination. So the whole thing becomes a lot more relaxed, mindful, respectful, a co-creation situation where there's a true collaboration, and these are really short-term benefits. Longer term, as we go through the program, what people report is, for each insight, there are different aspects of this selfless service that come up. So the feeling is not a feeling is actually the wrong word, the sense of being connected to everything. This allows you to really stop judging other people in the sense of, are they for me or against me? Are they following the agenda that I want or not? It's okay; we are all interrelated and interacting all the time. Well, this is exactly how to promote something like an organization to ensure that it works well together. We need to have this sense of connection. So these are more like the longer-term effects. And the ultimate effect, of course, is that I am able to be selflessly in service to others without having to go through having to become, you know, a new person to develop my character or to get a new job just as I am. But having seen these truths about myself. I think people probably particularly enjoy being less stressed or letting go of, oh, I don't need to do all that stuff. It's all this control illusion. Let's forget about it. That's it all happens. So I'm not. I can basically sit back and, Yeah, put less tension in things and let them unfold. So that one probably is already very attractive to many people. Yeah. Because the people who come to me they're often they're idealists; we are idealists, we want to make the world a better place and to be in service, and often we put huge amounts of stress on ourselves to try to achieve this. But then, going back in terms of success, right? This is this journey, for sure. And I know mind management itself is a journey. It takes commitment; it takes effort. Even here, it takes effort to do the first exercise and then go through it all one by one. And so, in terms of success rate, how would you? What do you see? Yeah, so I've, this particular program I have since June last year, and they've now 30 people a bit more than 30 people have completed it. And two people had to stop because of health issues or totally different issues than the coaching. But I've been refining this coaching program over these months. And that's precisely why it's now very specific, one-to-one daily reporting on how I do these practices. What are my insights? What did I discover? Because the key factor is, do you perform the practices? And how are you progressing? So if you are willing to do that, if you're willing to really look to complete the practices and to get my guidance on that, I mean, you can do this by yourself. But this is exactly where the success rate comes in. The program is so structured, so rigid, or so clearly, precisely, because we also need to go bypass the ego. And it's excused. You know, it's like, oh, okay, yeah, there was this practice, but I'll do that tomorrow, or have you seen my agenda? You know, I don't have time to do this. So to answer your question, if you are motivated enough to really do a practice every day, that's the requirement every weekday, spend about 30 minutes a day. And you and you get the guidance and coaching; everybody is able to see these things. Because this is we're not looking at something like Alien. This is the core of what it means to be human. So everybody can discover it for themselves. But you do have to do the work. And as you nicely set your ego is, you could be, in this case, your worst enemy right to me to find excuses and all that stuff. Yeah. And that's, that's one of the challenges. So yeah, I know how that sounds. That sounds good in the sense that most people were able to go through coaching at the end of the day for accountability and to help them get unstuck. So it's the same experience I have, working with leaders. They, otherwise, get stuck. So it's no way that you or someone can just say, Oh, I'll do this alone. And I'll figure it out somehow. I think the key thing is this kind of accountability. And if things are failing, the stories that you tell yourself are all stories of the ego, and you may not realize that unless someone more neutral gives you this guidance. Right. So yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Yes. Very good. So then, as we're closing, I would say, for people interested in getting started on this, how do you typically sort of get a sense, we'll put all those links in there, so people can find you there as well. But how usually do you get started? And then maybe one thing is a takeaway that you could encourage people to experiment with when we talked about this one practice, but maybe there's something else that was quite helpful for you in this time, too, that you can share? Yeah, so some people want to read first and absorb knowledge. And for that, I tried to put everything in my book. So it's the whole process that I use and the 16 practices; you could read that and apply it, and you would get quite far. The problem is what we just discussed that the ego would sidetrack you. It's sometimes difficult to make sense of what is happening. So that's where the coaching comes in. One of the other ways to start is I have a self-assessment questionnaire that you can complete, and it tells you sort of where am I on, you know, on these different insights, it asks you to self-reflect and self assess. And there's a possibility to just discuss that with me in one coaching session. So those are kind of the easier or the less big things than doing the whole coaching program. So it depends sort of on what you enjoy, how you like to learn and like to start new things. Many people, I myself, needed coaching. So it's just like, okay, I can read all this stuff until, until I dropped dead, I can read 1000 books, but I need somebody to guide me, I needed, I think I had two or three different coaches in this process. Something you can start with immediately is this aspect of strengthening the observer. So, if you do any form of reflective practice or journaling, one of the easiest things to start doing is to start journaling or reflecting in the third person. So instead of saying, I, I did this, I did that, this is what happened. You say, the body or the mind. So you create in the journaling process, in the reflecting process, you create distance to yourself. And this starts to trigger this. I am the observer of my experience. Very good. So I think, thanks again, this was, I think there were so many insights in there. And I think that the exercise you suggest towards the end now is something people can, can get started to create more distance creating this awareness of observing. And I think there are lots of actionable tips. It's probably good to go back to this podcast, rewind, and listen to it a few times. There's much good stuff in there. What I remember now, right, and I think, yeah, starting getting on this process for someone who's ready is definitely an excellent option to go beyond the mind. And I think maybe that's the motto of this whole episode. I really go beyond the mind. And so thanks, Katrijn, for being here to share. And we'll put, as I said earlier, all those links and links to the book and everything into the show notes. Thanks. Thank you.