Society & Culture

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!

THE WORKPLACE AND SPIRITUALITY
NEW PERSPECTIVES ON RESEARCH AND PRACTICE

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.

 

12 STEP WISDOM AT WORK: TRANSFORMING YOUR LIFE AND YOUR ORGANIZATION

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.

 

LEADERSHIP IN A NEW ERA: VISIONARY APPROACHES TO THE BIGGEST CRISIS OF OUR TIME

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.

A HEARTFELT MESSAGE TO MY BROTHERS — ABOUT WOMEN

(This has been published on Rebelle Society, which can be read here.)


A HEARTFELT MESSAGE TO MY BROTHERS ABOUT HOW WE TREAT WOMEN

I first thought I should wait to write and post this, because I am having some real issues with chemo brain— a common term used to describe thinking and memory problems that can occur after cancer treatment, which I had a few days ago.

Chemo brain can also be called chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment. I like this one, because it is so significant-sounding. Write or wait?

You be the judge. Maybe if I waited, I’d be more articulate, coherent, and persuasive. Maybe not. I feel drunk, stoned, and exhausted. Chemo brain sucks. I should wait.

But, I don’t want to wait. I’m clear enough on this now. My cancer treatments remind me that life is live TV: no reruns. It’s now or it’s not. So, here it is.

I have been around. I have done, seen, and heard a lot of stuff. Truly. Trust me. So, it takes a lot to make my mind spin out of control behind a massive WTF. But it does happen, more often than I’d like to admit.

Sometimes this happens in the wake of a big thing, like a whistleblower-inspired revelation of governmental or corporate misconduct. I confess to being particularly susceptible to ideas and actions motivated by greed, cruelty, and deception. Sometimes, this WTF-head-spin happens in the wake of a small thing, in terms of social media coverage or cultural outrage.

This is what I want to talk about. A small thing. Seemingly. It’s about how we men sometimes treat women. Not our women, but women. Hear the difference?

In her talk in one of my Speaking Truthfully classes, this brave woman told us that her significant other had forbidden her from attending an event that he had not been invited to. He said that she could not go, that she could not defy him. No discussion. No negotiation. No reasons. Just: You cannot go. Do not defy me.

Read the rest of this article at Rebelle Society.

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.)

INTRODUCTION

            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?

A Lesson from Nazi Concentration Camp Survivors

I lived in Israel for a year in 1972. I was working my way to India. I had come from six months in Frankfurt, Germany, where I worked in a bakery under the supervision of Herbert, who had been a drummer in Hitler’s private marching band; so he said. In Israel, I worked as a civilian employee of the Israeli Air Force. I lived with soldiers in tents in the Sinai Desert, close to the Suez Canal. We dug underground ammunition bunkers all day.

During my year in Israel, I met many Nazi concentration camp survivors. The stories they told me, quite honestly, were so horrific as to defy belief. Some people today do not even believe the Holocaust actually happened! How could it? How could human beings descend into such a hell as to do this to other human beings?

How could our very humanity be corrupted such that we became monsters, betraying everything good and beautiful and decent and caring and loving that is within our true heart, our living spirit? Hitler?

camps

No, I was told. Not Hitler. Us. The people. How? Why?

Radical Sages – Spiritual Activism

A conversation between Tim Freke and Robert Rabbin on spirituality and activism. We delve into such questions as – does spirituality imply certain political positions? Can it help in facilitating dialogue between differing points of view? Can it address a sense of overwhelm and despondency? Does it offer hope for the future?

The conversation was facilitated by Richard Cox.

A Heartfelt Message to my Brothers Regarding Women

 

(This has been published on Rebelle Society, which can be read here.)


I first thought I should wait to write and post this, because I am having some real issues with “chemo brain” — a common term used to describe thinking and memory problems that can occur after cancer treatment, which I had a few days ago. Chemo brain can also be called chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment. I like this one, because it is so significant-sounding. Write or wait? Post now or later?

You be the judge. Maybe if I waited, I’d be more articulate, coherent, and persuasive. Maybe not. I feel drunk, stoned, and exhausted. Chemo brain sucks. I should wait.

But, I don’t want to wait. I’m clear enough on this now. My “cancer treatments” remind me that life is live TV: no reruns. It’s now or it’s not. So, here it is.

I have been around. I have done, seen, and heard a lot of stuff. Truly. Trust me. So, it takes a lot to make my mind spin out of control behind a massive WTF? But it does happen, more often than I’d like to admit.

Sometimes this happens in the wake of a “big” thing: a whistle-blower-inspired revelation of governmental or corporate misconduct. I confess to being particularly susceptible to ideas and actions motivated by greed, cruelty, and deception. Sometimes, this WTF? head spin happens in the wake of a “small” thing — in terms of social media coverage or cultural outrage.

This is what I want to talk about. A small thing. Seemingly. It came up in a Speaking Truthfully masterclass I did a while ago. It’s about how we men sometimes treat woman. Not “our” women; but women. Hear the difference?

In her talk to the class, this brave woman told us that her significant other had forbid her from attending an event that he had not been invited to. He said that she could not go, that she could not defy him. No discussion. No negotiation. No reasons. Just: YOU cannot go. Do not defy me.

That did it. My head spun, and then I groaned — maybe growled — a very guttural WTF? Again? Come on! The objectification of women.

Brothers: we do not own women. We may not forbid them anything. They are not our property. We may not take; we must ask. While most societies today still are ruled and run by the values of patriarchy — a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it — we can see the tide turning, and I could not be happier. You should be happy. Truly. It is essential that we rejoice and that we all facilitate and expedite this evolutionary trend whereby men realize that patriarchy is more than obsolete. This ideology is, existentially, criminal. All forms of it. All rationalizations for it.

The issue isn’t even one of gender-equality. In my view, that belief-system argument is too general and broad and, perhaps, inaccurate. I do not want to argue in this way. I do want to say this. Brothers, listen up. Seriously.

We do not own women. We are not superior to women. We do not control women. We may not take from them anything without asking and without permission. We may not harm, debase, degrade, imprison, bully, intimidate, or threaten any woman at any time for any reason. We CANNOT AND WE MAY NOT DO THIS.

If you do this, stop and get help. If you see this being done, get involved and stop it. All the time. This ideology of patriarchy and its behavioral corollaries are criminal, sinful, horrible. We must stop this, right now. Everywhere.

When we consider the dictionary of words — of thoughts, beliefs, actions — that support and inform how we relate to women, do we see words like: love, adore, worship, elevate, celebrate, empower, serve, honor, respect? Do we listen, learn, and grow in their presence? Are we open, curious, and patient in our exploration of women’s mysteries and riches and dimensions? I hope so.

We need to open our eyes on this. It’s great that Elizabeth Warren can blow away The Donald with her “nasty women” speech” but that is plucking low-hanging fruit. There are so many ways, maybe less graphic and visible than The Donald’s exercise of patriarchal privilege — that haunt our society. Look around. Let’s open our eyes. Let’s understand this. Let’s acknowledge this. Let’s change this.

RIGHT NOW. NO EXCUSES.

My Public Challenge to Donald Trump

In your Republican presidential candidate acceptance speech on July 21, 2016, you said, “It is finally time for a straightforward assessment of the state of our nation. I will present the facts plainly and honestly. Here, at our convention, there will be no lies. We will honor the American people with the truth, and nothing else.”

578664124-republican-presidential-candidate-donald-trump-speaks.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2

Truth is a compelling yet slippery concept; eventually, truth must interact with accuracy and evidence. Sooner or later, the mental state of the “truth-teller” must be considered. The mental bedlam of a person — their degree of psychological/emotional chaos and madness — must be evaluated.

My public challenge to you: Will you consent to undergo a full battery of neuropsychological tests — with results and analyses made public — in order for us, the voting public, to have a straightforward and honest assessment of the state of your mind and of any tendencies you might have for mental disorders that would disqualify you from holding the office of President?

This challenge is not a challenge of your past success in building casinos and condos, nor is it a challenge to your personal values and policy proposals, though those are quite obtuse and quixotic to me. This is a direct and public challenge to your mental state and overall mental capacity and to your emotional maturity and IQ. Can you function in a reasonably sane and coherent manner within the complex environment of the national and international political arenas? You will forgive me if I am not persuaded by the   comments of your wife and children, or by the comments of a partner in casino building or by the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

I’d rather listen to what James Fallon, Ph.D., might say after a proper professional evaluation. Here is an excerpt from his article entitled “The Mind of a Dictator”:

For the past 18 years, I have studied the brain activity, psychology, and genetics of psychiatric patients and the brain scans of psychopathic serial killers. A few months ago, I was approached by a non-profit human rights organization to create a presentation on the mind of a dictator — an especially compelling issue in light of recent uprisings against autocrats in the Middle East and North Africa. After combing through literature on the world’s worst dictators and combining it with my neuroscience research and that of others on psychopaths, I presented my theory in May at the Oslo Freedom Forum, an annual conference produced by the Human Rights Foundation. The following article is based on my speech, an attempt to look inside the minds of these elusive and powerful world players.

“So, what binds dictators across history and geography? What traits do they share? To begin with, let’s examine the general characteristics of psychopaths. They are usually charming, charismatic, and intelligent. They brim with self-confidence and independence, and exude sexual energy. They are also extremely self-absorbed, masterful liars, compassionless, often sadistic, and possess a boundless appetite for power. These are just a few of the character traits present in a genuine psychopath.

You can see why I’d like to know his informed and expert opinion of you! Thus, my public challenge to you. Hey, let’s go for the two-for-one discount and have Mike Pence checked out.

What do you say?

2016 GOP Convention: a crucial spiritual lesson

I  confess: I have been watching hours of television coverage of the GOP Convention. I cannot stop myself: CNN, MSNBC, FOX NEWS.

The Trumps

The Trumps

Even though my brain has crashed and collapsed and my soul has tried a roll-call vote to stop me, I continue to watch. I now have the justification I need. A massive, crucial, urgent spiritual lesson for me and, quite possibly, for you.

Ex-SEAL Marcus Luttrell

Ex-SEAL Marcus Luttrell

Truth be told, I have already understood this lesson, taught this, written and spoken about this. But here it is, courtesy of every person who has appeared on any screen: main speaker, delegate, pundit, analyst, commentator. Everyone teaches the same thing.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani

The lesson? It is this: all thoughts are automatically self-justifying. So are beliefs, which are gangs of thoughts gathered together to bully lone thoughts. in other words, one can say anything, anything at all, and that spoken thought, that thought spoken aloud, is proof enough of its veracity. Nothing more is needed. No evidence of any kind. No proof, no logic, no analysis. Each and every thought is unassailable, true beyond question, absolute.

The Donald

The Donald

As long as our awareness remains tethered to the thoughtstream; as long as our consciousness is imprisoned in our mind. When this is the case, we are unable to question our thoughts and beliefs, to interrogate them, to challenge them on the basis of evidence. One can say anything, and it is accurate and true — as long as we live in the thoughtstream.

Which seems to be an accurate and true statement, based on the evidence.

What to do? Get out of the thoughtstream.