Paul David Walker Is Unleashing Genius
Bringing Business into the Present Moment
By David Langer

 

 

Poet? Philosopher? Appropriate credits for a successful leadership consultant and CEO coach?

Absolutely! Because at this unique moment in human history, only our deepest, most essential Self can lead us — and therefore our business enterprises — to a sustainable new world that can support our population of six-and-a-half billion. And who better to lead us to our essential Self than a poet/philosopher?

This poet/philosopher, however, has been guiding Fortune 500 CEOs and executives of mid-size corporations to successful outcomes for more than 25 years!

Paul David Walker was one of the leaders of a groundbreaking entrepreneurial company that established innovative leadership consulting practices providing the foundation for much of the leadership consulting that still exists today. He continues to integrate new approaches from science, psychology, and philosophy when coaching and mentoring business leaders.

“Great leaders must be wise,” says Walker. “Unleashing their genius actually opens the doorway to their wisdom.” Walker defines genius as an individual, self-actualizing state that brings with it the ability to see more clearly and act more holistically. “Brought into a team environment, genius offers the team members and, therefore, the team as a whole, similar results. And with the synergy inherent in teams … even more!”  

In his new book, “Unleashing Genius — Leading Yourself, Teams and Corporations” (Morgan James Publishing, 2008), Walker shares what great performers — geniuses in their fields — have always known: there is no true reality outside of the present moment; it is our only point of power. Only in the present moment are the insight and vision available that can direct us to successful action.

For many business leaders who have been planning their organization’s future by analyzing the past, “turning their past successes into sacred cows” — or through projections based on collected data points — this is an uncomfortable but indispensable revelation. One that can point them, however, to new vistas of possibility for themselves and their organizations, as there are ways to transform the conundrum.

This interview examines the context and core notions of Walker’s visionary guidance and coaching ….

David: I understand you believe the blockbuster book, “The Secret,” is misleading; yet so many coaches, spiritualists, and motivational speakers swear by it… explain what exactly is misleading about it?

Paul: “The Secret” makes it seem like your thoughts can create your future, or grant your wishes. The only reality that thought controls is your state of mind. Thought can create a negative or positive state of mind, it cannot influence the future. The only truly powerful state of mind comes from connection, with the “life force” or as Emerson calls it, “The Great Intelligence,” not from positive thoughts.

To influence the future, a person has to integrate an intention into his or her being so it becomes part of them. Thoughts can help, but only conscious connection with the “Life Force” can create the power to influence the future.

There is no true reality outside of the present moment. When you are in a state of “Integrative Presence,” you are closer to reality and your “beingness,” by virtue of being part of the flow, influences the flow leading to the future. The farther you are from the present moment, the more removed you are from reality.

Comparative thought by its very nature removes you from the present. A wish or a worry is made up of cognitive frameworks that are at best an approximation of reality; a memory or a speculation. How can you think that thought can influence the flow of reality?

Only engagement with reality, while you are in a state of Integrative Presence (which is similar to “being in The Zone”), combined with intention, can influence the future.

For example, athletes can want to win, but if they cannot get into “The Zone,” all the thinking in the world will not create high levels of performance. It takes practice, mastery, and freedom from your thoughts to truly influence the future.

Positive attitude and the value of visualization are all worthy elements — and I commend the authors of “The Secret” for shedding light on their importance, but these elements alone will not deliver the results they promise. Being able to influence the future takes a certain level of mastery. I am not surprised with the success of “The Secret” because instant answers sell… practice and discipline only sell to the truly committed.

David: How does one master “Integrative Presence?”  

Paul: One word… Practice! There is no substitute for practice. An athlete who wants to master being in “The Zone” has to practice freeing himself from the “constraints of thought” to successfully find his way into this powerful state of mind. Sports psychologists and coaches understand this fact and train their athletes accordingly.

The more you experience Integrative Presence, the more familiar you will become with it. Practice deepens this state, which has no real limit, and the experience you gain through practice will help you hone your ability to achieve this state with ease and for an extended — or even unlimited period of time.

You cannot think your way into the state of Integrative Presence; you can only feel your way. It is essential to know the difference between states of mind dominated by thought and states of mind driven by a connection and collaboration with the “flow” or “Life Force.”  I can’t stress the importance of practice enough — just like anything worth mastering in life, practice is the key.

David: Could you give an example where “Integrative Presence” was a deciding factor in business?

Paul: There are many. Business is part of the flow of the Universe and is governed by the same rules as are all things. Each business market has a flow, which is a subset of the greater flow. The principles are the same.

One must be able to let go of their thoughts, which were created in the past and are at best only an approximation of what really happened. One must also let go of collective predictions about the future, which are speculations. I will give an example from my book, “Unleashing Genius.”

When I was working as a leadership consultant to Don Ross, Chairman and CEO of New York Life, during the summer of 1987, many people were coming to me questioning the Chairman’s actions. He had asked the investment department to slowly move all investments out of the stock market into conservative investments.

This frustrated his investment team because the stock market was at an all-time high and their competitors were using “High Yield Bonds” and stocks to create gains much greater than New York Life’s. They wanted to play in the game, and Don Ross was telling them to step back.

Many came to me, as Don’s coach, to suggest I persuade him of the foolishness of his actions. I explained that I was his leadership coach and had little knowledge of the financial markets, but encouraged them to speak directly to Don. However, no matter how people pleaded, he would not change course. Several key players resigned and went to more “progressive” companies.

On October 7, 1987, while I was on site at New York Life, the market crashed. It was the biggest crash since the Great Depression. But New York Life had moved most of its investments out of the stock market and had not invested in any “High Yield Bonds,” known later as “Junk Bonds.” Don Ross was now considered a genius. The financial gain was enormous.

A week or so later, I asked Don how he knew to pull all of the company’s investments out of the stock market three months before the October 1987 crash. He said, “I just knew it couldn’t last.” Everyone in his world thought he was wrong, yet he had the wisdom and courage to do what he felt was right.

He later went on to explain that, as Chairman and CEO, he was continuously bombarded with “experts” trying to convince him of completely different strategic directions. Each had incredible credentials and a good story, yet each recommended different directions.

The only tool he had to make the final decision was his instinct, or intuition. He said, “Whenever I have gone against my intuition, I have regretted it.”  Don certainly would have agreed with Buddha when he said, “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who said it, even if I said it, unless it agrees with your reason and your own common sense.”  

Don Ross explained to me, “The key to wisdom is to know the difference between your wild hopes and fears and common sense, intuition or true wisdom.” They often seem the same, but they are not. There is a distinct difference in the feeling. One comes from the Ego and insecurity, and the other comes from Wisdom. Great leaders learn the difference and develop the courage to act.

Don had found ways to live in Integrative Presence or at least he was able to find that state of mind when he needed insight. When I met with him over the years, he was often in the state of Integrative Presence. He was warm, yet seemed to be able to see through people. Insightful, yet he moved with grace and ease.

David: What are the primary differences between what you do as a “CEO Coach,” and that of an everyday Business Advisor?

Paul:  I teach CEOs to understand the difference between a state of mind that comes from their ego and insecurity and true wisdom or Integrative Presence. As Don Ross said, “There is a distinct difference in the feeling.”  Once my leaders understand this difference, I teach them how to find this state of mind at will.

After some practice, we then apply this state of mind to a business strategy, which creates insight. Following that, I coach the leader on communicating this insight to their organization and the market.
Most advisors teach basic business skills, do behavioral coaching, or serve as a sounding board. All of these are valuable to a CEO, but not as essential. If a leader needs these basic skills, I will help him. One cannot begin advanced work until you have completed the basics.

David: After coaching CEO’s for 25 years, what finally motivated you to write “Unleashing Genius?”  

Paul: My clients kept asking if there were some books they could read. While there are many philosophical books that explain these principles, there are none that integrate these understandings into the business world. “Unleashing Genius” is based on deeply profound understandings of how the Universe works, but it is simple and practical. I could not recommend a book, so I wrote one leaders can use.

David: How does “Unleashing Genius” benefit those outside of the corporate environment?

Paul: We all live as part of the Universal Flow, and navigate through the Universe trying to synchronize ourselves with the Life Force. All of the principles discussed in the book are useful for any human activity. I have written “Unleashing Genius” in a simple and readable fashion so anyone can pick it up and learn how to live a more effective, happy and peaceful life.

Additionally, most great leaders were once common men and women. It seems the less you think you know, the easier it is to catch onto these principles. I have explained them to people from simple walks of life and they often understand more quickly because their egos are less wrapped up in their ability to think. Once you understand that your thoughts are not real and take them less seriously, it changes your life permanently. The “Life Force” is always there and shines through as you slow down or let go of your thoughts.

Here is a quote from my next book that illustrates this:

There is an intelligence that flows through everything like a multidimensional river. It has been called by many names: the Taoists call it “The Flow of Heaven.” Unfortunately, it is obstructed by human thought.  Slow your thoughts down and this intelligence will shine through the spaces between them, in glimpses that stimulate wonder and joy. Let go of your thoughts entirely and the light from this flow will lift your consciousness beyond imagination. Beauty and peace beyond description will fill your being; but know that it is only the beginning.

David: What could we look forward to seeing next from Paul David Walker?

Paul: My next book will be called “Surge of Life: Living in a State of Integrative Presence Every Day.” This book will be a true story about times in my life when I learned to achieve the state of Integrative Presence.

Eighty percent of the book will describe this state of being. Even though words cannot fully describe this experience, as a poet and writer, I will do my best. My hope is that “Surge of Life” will draw people into a state of Integrative Presence as they read. Like my poems, it will be designed to unleash genius.

I will also be leading retreats for people to practice this state of mind, as well as roundtables for leaders, talks and workshops. My purpose is to help people learn to live a happy and abundant life.

For more information and to buy Paul David Walker’s books, visit: www.pauldavidwalker.com 


 


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