The leadership skills that worked well in the past no longer are sufficient. New skills and qualities are necessary now:
Patience, perseverance, presence. Insight, clear seeing, discernment. Compassion, caring, availability. Trustworthiness, honesty, humility.
Forces beyond our control have created a global climate of fear and conflict. Leaders hold onto power by making us afraid of one another. Greed and corruption predominate in politics and business. Elites take everything for themselves. People seek security in tribal behaviors. Values about the common good, morality, caring for one another no longer summon people to work together.
These dynamics occur in every civilization at the end of its life cycle. They will intensify, causing more problems and greater suffering. As leaders, activists, and citizens who have made a difference, who still need to make a difference, what can we do? Can we define a role for ourselves that truly contributes for this time?
Throughout history, when times grow dark, Warriors arise to protect and defend what is being threatened. Their weapons are either aggressive or peaceful. But they share one core value: to train themselves as protectors for what is being lost. To fulfill this role, to prepare for greater challenges, they commit to training to develop their skills. They bind together as a community dedicated to this purpose. Today, we name leaders who make this commitment Warriors for the Human Spirit.
Warriors for the Human Spirit train to develop the qualities and skillful means necessary to protect and preserve the human spirit and the spirit of life. They have only two “weapons”—compassion and insight.
- They learn how to calm situations of conflict and distress by offering their presence and equanimity.
- They learn how to embody sanity by being responsive rather than reactive, conscious rather than compulsive.
- They learn to see beyond their filters and judgements so that more information is available for decision-making.
- They learn to see what’s needed rather than imposing their own needs on a situation.
- They learn to trust themselves, to act with confidence not burdened by arrogance.
- They learn to see clearly so they can act wisely.
- As they train together, they develop a strong and reliable community for support, ideas, consolation, humor, and grace.
Taking our place in history
When we consciously commit to train as a Warrior, we are taking our place in history. Countless others have gone before us to serve the needs of their time. Personal family lineages are filled with Warriors: those who went to war, who migrated, who endured poverty, injustice, conflicts, dislocation, natural disasters.
Without their valiancy, we wouldn’t be here.
Standing on their shoulders, we find strength and determination. Looking forward, we discover a path of meaningful contribution. We commit to doing what we can to serve the needs of our time. We join this lineage of brave, generous, and noble people who offered their hearts, hands, and spirits for what they believed in, for what they knew must change.
It’s just our turn to serve the world.
WARRIOR TRAINING FOR LEADERS
January to June 2022
The Berkana Institute began training Warriors for the Human Spirit in March 2015. Over 400 people from 35 nations have trained and many continue to deepen their skills and practices and also stay together as a community. We have learned that the outer work of life-affirming leadership requires us to do the inner work of self-knowing. Only then can we develop the clarity, confidence, compassion, and equanimity to serve the needs of this time as leaders, activists, parents and citizens.
This form of Warrior Training is intentionally designed to benefit individual participants, their organizations, and their local communities and regions. Over six months of working together, it develops a cohort of dedicated and sane leaders who have the skills and capacities to contribute meaningfully to the needs of their communities and organizations. Training together, they also create a community of Warriors that supports them to persevere and overcome the obstacles and challenges of leading in this difficult time.
HOW THE WARRIORS TRAIN
Warrior Training focuses on three essential areas
1. LIFE-AFFIRMING LEADERSHIP: SEEING CLEARLY TO ACT WISELY
Skills and capacities
- Skills for dealing with situations of high conflict and polarized positions
- Skills for dealing with situations of high volatility and strong emotions
- Perceptual tools to see what we fail to see because of blinders and judgements
- Systems thinking to understand webs of interconnections and the consequences of ignoring these in decision-making
- Practices to create Islands of Sanity within one’s sphere of influence
2. SELF-KNOWING: LEARNING TO TRUST OURSELVES
Skills and Capacities:
- Meditation practices to cultivate a stable mind that is less reactive, more responsive
- Self-awareness practices to know one’s triggers and judgements; with awareness, reducing their influence on how situations are perceived
- Practices to act with compassion and insight rather than aggression and fear
- Practices to transform negative emotions –anger, grief, sadness–into energy for intelligent action
- Practices for mind/body awareness
- Role formation as a Warrior for the Human Spirit that strengthens the ability to act with clarity and integrity in all situations
- Confidence to step forward as a role model and mentor of the best human qualities of sanity, generosity, insight, patience, compassion
3. COMMUNITY: WHATEVER THE PROBLEM, COMMUNITY IS THE ANSWER
Warriors rely on their cohort-community to endure the loneliness, criticism, setbacks and failures that are part of this path. Warriors know they can call on each other at any time, that they will be there for each other. In forming their own community, they learn the skills necessary to build healthy communities.
Skills and Capacities
- As a community of practice, developing new insights and competencies through shared experiences and exchanges
- Learning firsthand what supportive community demands from each member
- Learning, as a leader, how to create the conditions for healthy community
- Strengthening personal capacity to grow and persevere as a member of a supportive community
- Thriving on moments of clarity, humor, joy and grace that are always present when humans work well together, no matter how difficult the external circumstances
Please listen to Meg Wheatley describe more about Warrior Training