We live in a world that punishes truth and praises lies. Our deepest truths come from the heart in unwritten feelings and sensations which may remain dormant or out of reach for decades. Our minds, however, are experts at fabricating words to fill in the gaps. Whatever it takes. Is it any wonder that the meaning of leadership itself has become so corrupt?
My lifelong study of leadership has brought me to nature. As I brushed away the dirt that I came across in so many books and studies, I found an enormous truth buried deep inside every ancient human society. Animals and nature follow the rules of leadership way better than we do. The logic of this original, true leadership permeates the entire animal kingdom, and is most visible among the largest, most complex of creatures: our mammal friends.
Through working with dolphins and horses, I began to discover a fundamental fact that seems to have disappeared beneath the worlds’ pyramids and buried temples. Leadership is an act of love. Not an impulse to get rich or famous. It’s not about getting respect or being remembered. It’s not about Forbes rankings. It’s not about the ideas we read about daily in magazines, books or elite university research papers. It’s about love. Deep, beautiful, selfless, complex, life-thirsty love.
In Ireland the Hill of Tara bears witness to very sexual ceremonies in which 142 High Kings of Tara were selected and crowned by Celtic kings. The ancient Egyptian Turin Erotic Papyrus graphically shows how sexual energy was closely tied to the Gods and to the afterlife for the Egyptians. Cave paintings and less sophisticated representations from primitive tribes also remind us that before we became so intellectually smart we knew that business was not too far away from erotic pleasure and love.
I used to be a very brainy industrial engineer with huge ambitions. I was a product of our times. I was told to study hard and reach for the stars. I believed it. Thirty years into this game, however, my heart started beating a different tune. Confused and bewildered, I needed more than a decade to figure out what it was trying to tell me, without any words. Now that I get it, none of the business gibberish we all talk makes any sense to me. It seems like a huge lie at the service of the few… the few willing to break every rule of life in order to get to the top.
In many mammal species the leader of the pack is female. The first human Gods were female, as so many ancient figurines symbolise – without words. This female style of leadership is about having everybody’s back. And I mean everybody: Fast hunters, young studs, innocent teenage girls, child-bearing women, wise old men. Wild animal leadership is about being last, behind everyone, the first one to be discovered by a chasing predator.
This heart-driven leadership serves life at any cost. It follows a logic of economy in which no one is killed for any reason other than promoting life itself.
No conflict is sparked for dumb reasons like money, power, conceptual beliefs or ego. A clean worthy heart is venerated above every other possible trait. Beauty, charisma, intelligence, business savvy and physical strength fall short, way below this intrinsic ability to love your people so much that you will give yourself over in order to promote their wellbeing.
If we look at human history, and evolution itself, we see that the Homo Sapien species appeared two million years ago. The oldest Goddess figurines found, the Tan Tan Venus in Morocco and the Berejat Ram Venus of the Golan Heights, could be as old as three to 500,000 years old. Homo Sapiens, our own species, is only 200,000 years old.
War, violence, degradation of women and chieftain-based leadership, in contrast, are no more than 7,000 years old. A mere hiccup in our Evolution! It’s true that without war, human societies would not have developed as miraculously as they did. We have to admit that the dynamics set in motion by those first Indo-European invaders about 4500 B.C.E. in Europe, replicated in Middle-East and America, did push humanity to overcome gigantic challenges. Business strategy still praises Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” treaty, and many of our daily comforts and technology applications come from inventions developed by the military.
But for some reason we have let this hunger for domination and supremacy blind us to the invisible cost of war and violence.
Recent Jihadist attacks come as a painful reminder to modern societies. Violence destroys life. It kills many lives in one fatal blow and alienates future generations with unbearable doses of shock, fear, vengeful anger and guilt. Guilt-ridden successors of great historic conquerors have always been weak, depressed, addicted and perverted. The cost of war is multi-generational. It takes many, many, lives to overcome the incomprehensible wounds left by meaningless death.
To our essentially mammal hearts it makes absolutely no sense to kill anyone for a reason that is not life or death. Like any other animal on our planet, it would choose first to avoid or escape the conflict, and it would only attack if it had no other choice. What’s more, if it had no chance at all, it wouldn’t even fight. It would go straight into shock to minimize pain, once again eliminating meaningless violence.
The heart is female and the mind is male. Yin and Yang. Moon and Sun. Love and Sex. Creation and destruction. In nature there is an intrinsic balance between the male and female principles that pushes life forward. But we humans have become so strategic, so brainy, so blinded by the delusional lies of our very own grey matter, that we have broken that balance. We are slowly killing nature. Animals are becoming extinct, resources are running out, trash is polluting everything.
Who will remind us that loving hearts must again rule over fearful minds? Heart’s follow mind when mind serves heart’s purpose.
Men and women who ignore their heart plant death and grow destruction around them because their minds lose all sense of purpose. They become blind to the logic of life – that nature and animals will obey at any cost. They become leaders of hatred and worshippers of meaningless rankings. And so they become slaves to a Godless, robotic system of endless competition with each other.
It’s frustrating to fall out of the profit-making machinery of corporations. It’s alienating to choose projects that make sense, rather than money. It’s very lonely to speak from the heart in a society that can’t remember what it feels below the neckline. As I’ve shared often on Real Leaders, it’s scary to see myself invest year after year of my career into “bringing love to the darkest, most loveless of places.”
For a very long time I was scared that I might be wrong. I seemed to be the only one talking this way. Punished once and again by people who were blind to their own hearts’ logic of life, I’ve become surprisingly strong. I’ve come to see that when you serve truth you don’t need violence. Truth is irresistible. True love is untamable. True leadership loves so deeply and effortlessly that violence and punishment melt in her presence. And a woman who rules from a heart full of love is a force of nature – a fair, wild, strong leader, a chaos of emotion full of wisdom. A woman who fully trusts her heart becomes a Goddess.