Buried Treasure: Three Essays from Three Anthologies

Last week, I discovered three essays I had written for three anthologies, and I believe they are among the best writing I have ever produced. The themes are authenticity in public speaking, values in the workplace, and self-awareness as the foundation of leadership. I have made them available for free download on this page. Below are brief descriptions of each. Enjoy!


Edited by Dr. Joan Marques, Dr. Satinder Dhiman and Dr. Richard King

Robert’s essay makes a strong case for speaking in public with authenticity. We need to speak with authenticity, predicated on vulnerability, honesty, empathy, transparency, and love. Authentic speaking is beneficial to our soul, the vitality and future of our organizations, and even the fate of our world.



Edited by William C. Hammond, III

The revolutionary concepts in this anthology have been developed by the internationally renowned Hazelden Foundation, one of the world’s leading recovery institutions. The co-authors show how the program that has helped millions of individuals can be used to dramatically change organizations, achieving greater efficiency and resulting a shared set of values that will propel the organization to new heights.

Robert’s essay is “The Answer to our Prayers,” in which he discusses the importance of integrating one’s most authentic personal values with those of the organization in which one works.



Edited by John Renesch

This anthology is a collection of vision and wisdom for tomorrow’s business leaders, presented by a group of outstanding men and women in a joint collaboration. This rare combination of business executives, professional consultants, successful authors, and leadership scholars has come together with a common theme: new times call for new leadership.

Robert’s essay is “The Koan of Leadership,” in which he advocates the development of self-awareness as a core leadership capacity.

CONSULTING: The Path of Service

(Note: I just found this on my hard drive; it’s from 1997. I reckon it’s still relevant and of value, so please enjoy.)


            During a recent meeting with a client to review details of a corporate retreat for three hundred people, he made some appreciative comments about my style of coaching and consulting. He mentioned several specifics and said that he thought these ought to be essential elements in any successful consulting business. He should know; my client is a superior consultant who over the years has demonstrated rare vision, courage, integrity, and skill.

My client asked me to think about developing a seminar that I might offer to his company of consultants to support their emerging excellence. I began to reflect on how I do my consulting work. It was difficult at first because I just do what I do; I never stopped to analyze how I do it.

The following twenty-five principles represent my inquiry into what I feel are important aspects of consulting. They are not in any particular order; number one is not more significant than number seventeen. These principles are certainly not gospel. They are simply reflections on the manner in which I do my work. You may find them to be useful catalysts in the process of becoming more aware of your own work style, values, and commitments.

You will see that I am particularly passionate about certain principles; it is also true that my viewpoint is constantly changing and evolving as I mature in understanding, skill, and experience. In fact, this very tendency may be the most important attribute of a consultant: that he or she is constantly growing and learning and evolving. Six months from now, I would most certainly have a different perspective on the essentials of consulting than I do today.

It is important to know for yourself what being a coach and consultant means and to articulate your own guiding principles. At the end of each principle, I present you with questions so that you may investigate and discover the truth of your own work. My wish is that you become a truly unique, profound, and inspiring artist.

PRINCIPLE ONE: Defining the Work

            A consultant is someone whose primary interest is the well-being of others. In this way, I think that consulting is really putting your particular expertise in service to the client’s desire for enhanced well-being. The client may retain your services for any number of reasons; still, underneath all the reasons, the client wants you to help him attain a better life.

When there is confusion, you are the clarity. When there is a problem, you are the solution. When there is an impasse, you are the way. When there is frustration, you are the peace. When there is fear, you are the courage. As a consultant, you always represent enhanced well-being. A consultant is an advocate for exploring frontiers of knowledge and performance that lead to enhanced well-being.

            Defining the work also means that you know what your expertise is and that you project that expertise with credibility and confidence. Expertise is a unique blend of life experience, values, creativity, vision, technical skill, passion, and dedication. Your expertise should represent a value that no one else can provide. That’s why I make a distinction between technical proficiency and getting the job done, and contributing to the well-being of a client in such a comprehensive way that the full impact of your work can’t even be quantified.

A magic wand is the perfect metaphor for expertise: magic that only you can produce.

How do you define your work as a consultant? How do you communicate this to prospective clients so that they know what they are getting? What is your expertise?

Creating a Workplace Culture of Conscious Communication

A High-Impact One-Day Program for Executives and Managers


Speech is a joint game between the speaker and the listener

against the forces of confusion. Unless both make the effort,

interpersonal communication is quite hopeless.

If the leaders and managers of any organization focus first and foremost on performance and productivity, they’ve got it all wrong, upside down, and inside out. They’re paying attention to the “what,” when they ought to be minding the “how.” Most executive teams have clear performance criteria, just as most organizations have clear productivity criteria. However, most teams do not have clearly defined communication standards; and yet all performance and productivity are fully dependent upon the clarity and quality of communication.

Since everything we want to achieve within our teams and organizations is dependent on the quality of our communications and the strength of our relationships, it would seem self-evident that we would be constantly teaching, learning, and evaluating the quality of our communication principles and corresponding behaviors.

The Problem is that teams without clear standards, values, and expectations for interpersonal communication simply cannot realize their business goals, nor can they create an energetic work environment of trust, mutual support, creativity, and consistent results.

The Solution is to identify and embrace communication and relationship values, attitudes, behaviors, and commitments that will assure high levels of team performance and achievement — as well as personal satisfaction and joy.

A culture of conscious communication is one wherein members of a team and organization communicate their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and intentions in an open, honest, accurate, and timely manner. Keywords for how people in this kind of culture communicate and behave include:

Candid • Non-Judgmental • Receptive to New Ideas • Vulnerable • Respectful of Others • Empathetic • Effective Listeners • Courageous • Accountable • Responsible • Clear • Cooperative • Transparent • Honest • Direct • Powerful • Creative 



A Short List of Leadership Qualities

In a recent interview by Judi Neal on her Edgewalkers Teleconference, the topic of leadership came up. That is one of those tricky words that, to me, does not have much meaning unless put into a context. Leading a firefight in a war zone and leading a mindfulness walk through a meadow require different leadership mindsets, skills, and competencies.

However, I do think that there are a few of these that are universal and apply to all “leadership” definitions.

In my view, this is a short but critical list of leadership capacities. These need to be embodied and manifest behaviorally; otherwise, they have no potency.

A clear mind. An open heart. Present-centered attention. Deep listening. Truthful speaking. Self-awareness. Honesty. Curiosity. Creativity. Empowering. Socially conscious. Service-oriented.

See if you can add to this list. A leader is not a leader simply by virtue of social or organizational position. A leader must earn that designation by virtue of embodied, manifest qualities and behaviors.

A Butterfly Who Built a Website

If you haven’t seen me in a while, you might be surprised when I say that the butterfly in the picture is me, and the thrown-off cocoon is where I have been living for the past five years.

Yes, in January 2012, I was a metaphorical caterpillar, albeit a rather handsome and wise one! Regardless, I was summoned by the vagaries of life and of things beyond life to enter a cocoon of stage 4 lung cancer. In this cocoon, not at all unlike the dissolution process experienced by actual caterpillars, I slowly but most assuredly began dissolving. Arms, legs, chest, kidneys, liver, arteries — all of it. Memory. Ambition. Self-image. All gone. Finally, just a soupy mess of liquid DNA. Then, from somewhere, a faint music began to sound. The DNA heard that and began to collect and form a new structure, a new being. It was something totally new, a burnished primal force ready for new life and new adventures. Finally, this new being pushed through the skin of the cocoon into the crisp air and began to FLY. When did this happen? Why, just now.

So, what better way to announce new life, in our digital age, than to construct and launch a brand new website?!

Which I have done. And I invite you to stop by and visit! Just click here.

Now, I did not do this myself, as I have no talents in this area. I do, however, have access to the graphic design services of Jane Green, with whom I have worked for 10 years. Together, we have created I don’t remember how many websites! She’s also produced all my POD books and e-books (interior and covers). Business cards. Everything. And, I have referred as many family members, friends, colleagues, and clients as I could. Everyone — everyone — simply RAVES about her. She is the embodiment of “customer care” in that she has one, and only one, aim in all that she does: to utterly delight her clients.

Jane Green

Jane Green

This is what she greets you with on the home page of her website:

You want to work with someone who, from the first moment of the working relationship, is focused on you and what you want. Someone inspiring and creative, reliable, honest, capable and 100% committed to your fulfilment. I believe that you want someone who is there for you, providing a quality one-to-one engagement, as well as being responsive and timely. If this is true for you then you’ve come to the right place.

She lives in Melbourne, Australia, but she has clients all over the world. I recommend her with  my whole heart, as in wholehearted. She is the best. Period.

Edgewalkers International Teleconference


I am delighted that Robert Rabbin will be my guest on the next Edgewalker Teleconference on Sunday, October 16th. Robert is an author, speaker, teacher, and radical sage. Like most Edgewalkers, Robert doesn’t fit into a box, and our conversation won’t fit into a box either. I’m not even going to pretend to give this call a topic, because the conversation will be emergent and unpredictable. And its sure to be enlightening, engaging, and edgy.

Robert and I will talk during the first half of the call, and then we’ll invite callers to join in the dialogue.

Date: October 16, 2016

Time: 5-6pm Pacific, 6-7pm Mountain, 8-9pm Central, 9-10pm Eastern (For other time zones, click here.)

Call-in Number: Conference dial-in number: (605) 562-3140

Participant access code: 836566#

Cost: FREE

This call will be recorded and posted to the Edgewalker website.

The Koan of Leadership

This essay was included in an anthology entitled Leadership in a New Era: Visionary Approaches to the Biggest Crisis of our Time,
edited by John Renesch, published in 1994. Contributing authors include Warren Bennis, Margaret Wheatley, Stewart Emery, James Autry and Max DePree, among many others. It is still pertinent and relevant.


No one I know has yet penetrated the koan of leadership. A koan is a riddle, the solution to which can only be found by going completely beyond all conditioning and thought. The solution originates from a place utterly free from image, belief, and concept. The mind that answers a koan is no mind at all; it is empty of all representation. Wrestling with the koan of leadership requires keen reflection and persistent inquiry. We must refine our awareness to have a chance of discovering what might be buried, as a treasure, beneath the layers of conceptual thinking. An idea of leadership will always miss the mark; it is too slow and cumbersome; ideas cannot respond quickly enough to reality. This is why leadership is a koan. Any definition or formulation of leadership will miss the mark. Contemplate leadership as a means to become liberated from conditioning and thought. Then you will be qualified to be a leader.

The steady practice of reflection and inquiry develops clarity of mind. Clarity, the state of being free from the impediments of image and idea, allows us to see things simply as they are, not wrapped in our various imaginings. Simple awareness—of ourselves, of others, and of the world around us—is the gift of reflection and inquiry. We cannot be didactic about awareness as we can about leadership. Awareness can’t be taught. We have to discover it for ourselves. If we have an interest in awareness, we can only unwrap ourselves from ideas, concepts, opinions, and judgments until awareness itself remains. Awareness itself supplants answers and solutions because it is more real and more useful.

Leadership Dojos and Zendos

This article is an excerpt from Igniting the Soul at Work: A Mandate for Mystics. Though originally written about 15 years ago, the premise seems to be as true and relevant today as then, especially in light of the current roster of presidential candidates. This article suggest that leaders voluntarily engage in the humanizing and enlightening activities of various dojos and zendos. First, I describe my own experiences practicing zazen and aikido, and then extrapolate what I experienced and learned to a curriculum for leaders.



In the winter of 1969 I cinched up my Aikido gi for the first time, bowed, and stepped onto the mat in a small dojo, practice hall, in Arcata, California, a little town on the northern coast. The sensei, teacher, was a big burly man who looked like a meat packer or longshoreman. Instead, he was a psychologist by profession, and a man of very gentle disposition, although he could throw my ass across the room while barely touching me.

A Soulful and Soul-Friendly Workplace

We all want to enhance our experience of work and enrich our work environments with greater meaning, purpose, joy, and deep human connection.

We want our work to be a place of inspiration, where we can find full creative outlets for our deepest values and highest vision, where we aim for what’s never been done, and call out to a bigger, freer self that is just beyond who we are now. If we package all this together, we might just say we want to bring our soul to work in a workplace that is soul-friendly.

Bali temple

If we’re going to use the word soul in a business context, we’d better define it. Otherwise, this single word — often thought of as abstract, esoteric and impractical — might create confusion, doubt and maybe even cynicism. There are many definitions of soul, some more precise than others, put forward by various religious, spiritual, and metaphysical belief systems. For me, the soul refers to the vital principle or animating force within all living beings.