Imagine a world where CEOs, Directors and our nation’s President all make decisions that honor our interdependence with the earth and that allow for personal growth and business production to be mutually beneficial. Our complex and high speed world is demanding that today’s leaders develop more than public speaking and group management skills. “Leadership as if soul mattered” is the focus of ROP’s visionary leadership program, which cultivates leaders who are grounded in nature, connected to ones’ core values and dedicated to a vision for a better future.
According to ROP guide Dana Carman, critical visionary leadership skills are “not only skills like public speaking, but they are inner powers and capacities. Not only do leaders need to deal with day to day problems and challenges, they also need a deeper and broader view, so that when approaching these challenges, they don’t inadvertently create unintended consequences. The vision quest cultivates this new ‘vision’ for leaders as a reference point and a place of stability in the face of rapid, unpredictable change.”
Dana is not new to the leadership field. For the past 25 years, he has coached and consulted visionary leaders and organizations internationally. It wasn’t until recently that he experienced the vision quest (Jewish Quest 2009) when a life crisis suddenly moved his interest in questing to a major priority. “I knew I needed to view my life from the perspective of my death in order to skillfully make the hard choices that life was presenting to me. I needed to find something in myself that was much more rooted. In order to do that I intuitively sensed that I needed to deepen my connection to the earth and step away from the habits and stabilities of my life. The vision quest was such the perfect structure for that.”
During his quest Dana could see the leadership implications inherent in the vision quest work. The practice of letting go and “dying to one’s old self” was integral to his own visionary leadership. “In order to be able to lead my own life from a place of depth, inspiration and integrity, I needed to take what was displacing these— the grief, fear and judgment—and bring them to earth and sky. By turning gently towards these painful emotions, I was able to let go and to open to what was next. The quest provided the clarity I needed and helped me to find the courage and self compassion that I needed so urgently at that moment in my life.”
Since completing his first quest, Dana has paired up with ROP Director Mike Bodkin to develop and facilitate this unique visionary leadership training within a vision quest format. According to Dana, QFL’s Vision Quest for Transformative Leadership harnesses ritual aspects of leadership that are essential during life transitions. “When we move into a new phase in our life, we need to claim it, speak it and have it mirrored back to us. On the vision quest, when we say our intention in council before we go on solo, it’s like we’re acknowledging a shift that is already taking place at the level of our Soul. This ritual crystallizes one’s intention, allowing it to metabolize during the three days of the solo and then be brought back to share with our community.”
Dana finds his work as a vision quest guide seeping into his work as a consultant. Now he mirrors back to clients their new growth and values so that they have a witness and may integrate new ways of being business leaders. Dana even assigns tasks of slowing down to pay attention to signs in the natural world that may point the way for new life or organizational visions. Imagining a world where all our leaders value earth, heart and soul just got a little bit easier.
-By Alison DeLong