Friday, March 30, 2007

Allied Ronin Affiliate Richard Strozzi-Heckler Interviewed

The following is a description of a dialogue between Allied Ronin affilliate Richard Strozzi-Heckler and Bert Parlee on the Integral Naked website. The Integral Naked website is a pay service so the dialogue is not free, however, the site (a part of Ken Wilber's Integral Institute) has featured such luminaries as George Leonard, Michael Murphy, Deepak Chopra, Peter Senge, Jenny Wade, Marianne Williamson, Tony Robbins and many, many more. If you are looking for lively dialogues with some wonderful thinkers it is a great service, with weekly updates. It can be found at

A Somatic Approach to Leadership. Part 1. The Importance of “Body” in Body, Mind, and Spirit, in Self, Culture, and Nature

Richard Strozzi-Heckler

Richard Strozzi-Heckler holds a Ph.D. in Psychology, is a 6th Degree black belt in Aikido, and has been teaching somatic coaching, aikido, and leadership over the last twenty-five years. He is co-founder of the Lomi School, Strozzi Institute, and the Two Rock Aikido dojo. He is a successful writer, having published four books including the classic The Anatomy of Change; In Search of the Warrior Spirit, which chronicles how his teaching helped an Army Special Forces unit dramatically increase its measurable performance; and most recently Holding the Center, Sanctuary in a Time of Confusion.

Richard and Bert begin the conversation by discussing some of the more recent activities Richard has been involved in, which have largely been about finding ways to bring a somatic orientation into international relations. He has been working with the Monterey Defense Language Institute, developing a conference called "Somatics and Counter-Terrorism." He also discusses his work in areas like Afghanistan, where he has created a somatic-based leadership program for the Afghani army.

Richard then gives a brief account of his involvement with the bodily arts, tracing it all back to a torn shirt and bloodied nose he received in a fight when he was 13 years old—and his parent’s fateful decision to put him in a Judo class. Later, in 1968, Richard began a meditation practice after spending time in India. He discusses his own definition of meditation as a way to control and exercise attention, a quality he recognizes as crucial in order to be an effective leader ("successful people should know how to concentrate.") As such, he teaches meditation in his workshops, under the guise of "Attention Training," a phrase which flies under the mainstream radar. An Integral Approach would completely agree with this use and definition of meditation, and go on to point out—in agreement with the great contemplative traditions—that not only can meditation train attention in extraordinary ways, but it can offer a radical freedom and release from all forms, functions, and movements of mind. From this Ultimate view, the quality of attention—whether untrained and roaming, or disciplined and pin-point—can be seen as simply another manifestation of the separate self-sense or self-contraction. However, this in no way makes attention training “bad;” rather, it’s one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. All of this simply goes to clarify the fact that meditation can function in several ways, one of which is to train attention, and another is to introduce us to the awareness that is beyond, or prior to, attention.

Richard goes on to offer a synopsis of his own interpretation of the body, which he describes in terms of five domains: the domain of action, the domain of moods and emotions, the domain of learning through recurrent practice, the domain of coordination and intersubjective harmony, and the domain of dignity.

An Integral Approach is often summarized as including “body, mind, and spirit, in self, culture, and nature,” and the somatic arts are an essential and indispensable part of that equation, naturally focusing primarily on “body” and how it affects the other fundamental dimensions of human experience. Likewise, an integral view posits that for every interior feeling, thought, or apprehension there is an exterior and correlative “body” that quite literally “supports” that experience, whether a gross body, subtle body, or causal body. Somatic or body-based approaches quite correctly notice that if you modify any one of these bodies you will produce a change in one’s interior experience, an important truth that must be included in any truly integral model.

Richard's career and practice is one wave on the evolving ocean towards a more comprehensive understanding of the human condition, and we invite you to enjoy this fascinating exploration into his work with one of Integral Institute’s most experienced founding members….

transmission time: 28 minutes

keywords: somatics, Albert Mehrabian, Silent Messages, martial arts, aikido, Monterey Defense Language Institute, terrorism, Afghanistan, Iraq, judo, Chogyam Trungpa, Naropa, Lomi, rolfing, Army Special Forces, George Leonard, Integral Life Practice, The Anatomy of Change, In Search of the Warrior Spirit, Holding the Center: Sanctuary in a Time of Confusion, "What is Integral?," A Theory of Everything.

most memorable moment: "We could say that one of the things that leaders do is that they make declarations about the future, sort of like Martin Luther King's speech. And our basic claim is that when exemplary leaders speak that way they aren't separate from their declaration, they are that declaration. So we have practices where people will make declarations inside of a physical practice, so we bring those two things together."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

It's early afternoon on March 17th, St. Patrick's Day. Odds are a lot of people, especially in the US, will be somewhat less "conscious" by the time clocks strike midnight today. I hope they'll all wake up tomorrow... but unfortunately the odds also are that some of them will no longer be with us. Oh well, people have their reasons, habits and rituals ... and free choice ... for doing what they will. Always have, always will. Hopefully your day will be safe and sane.

This coming Tuesday will be a day of travel for me - heading out for Krakow, Poland, again on an invitation of Pawel Olesiak and Pawel Bernas of Aiki Management My last venture there (November) with the Samurai Game® apparently assisted them with increasing their offerings. Poland is a rapidly growing place, and these two individuals are making a significant difference in the way leaders, managers and teams influence each other and the people they serve. This time we'll conduct two Games back-to-back ... and one group will participate in the simulation two days in a row. I've often received feedback asking to do something like this. Well, it's now going to happen and looks like we'll soon know how it will be received.

Poland will be a quick trip before I turn around, head back home to regroup for a trip to China (April 3-11). The first China stop be for three days in Shenzhen. Then it'll be on to Shanghai, also for three days. Again to deliver the simulation, though in the People's Republic of China it is frequently referred to as The Warrior Game®.

The upcoming April e-newsletter will feature an interview with Dr. Gene Barton, a longtime friend and West Point classmate, and an associate of Allied Ronin. Gene's the president of Paradigm Systems, Inc. ( He has developed some powerful feedback tools available online for leaders, managers and organizations. He's going to talk about this in the newsletter.

The whole notion of feedback seems to be "up" in my world. A number of friends and associates of mine making are some constructive transitions in their lives and/or with their organizations. Good for them!!! It has me thinking about the JoHari Window, something you should know about or, if you already do know about, that you may want to revisit. I first heard of it in 1976, but didn't give much thought to it until Dr. Kathy Kane of the University of San Francisco reinforced its importance in an MBA class where I was guest lecturing.

Do a google search for "JoHari Window" and see what you come up with. I urge caution about the websites that may suggest its quadrants reflect specific personality traits. Rather, I suggest one understand it from the perspective of a model, tool or framework for why (and how) people willing to increase their effectiveness might want to invest time, energy and practice in: (1) becoming more transparent, and (2) soliciting and being more open to feedback. Most of the Allied Ronin programs, especially those delivered in corporate and academic settings, begin with a quick introduction or review of the JoHari Window - its application and value.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Cairo, Egypt was the host to the 2007 AIESEC International President's Meeting (IPM) and for the second year Allied Ronin provided leadership training and the Samurai Game® for the organization's newly elected country presidents. Last year the IPM was in the Netherlands. This means that hundreds of young leaders from approximately 90 countries have now had the opportunity to participate one of the most provocative simulations in the world. They have directly linked their performance in the simulation to: (1) how they effectively interact with others, (2) how they will lead their country organizations, (3) how they influence people in general, (4) what their core values really are, and (5) what actions they can take to expand their positive habits and diminish their negative ones.

As mentioned in the Feb 25th blog entry I initially envisioned the trip to Egypt as an opportunity to serve not only AIESEC the organization and its members, but the future of 90 some countries. These your adults are very smart - top college juniors, seniors and master's degree candidates. Most speak four languages and are tops in their studies. Each has weathered many challenges to rise to the positions they currently hold. They are sought after by NGO's, companies and government organizations worldwide. And when their time is done with AIESEC some will go on to become leaders of organizations with international ties; and it is possible that a few could become high government officials and possibly heads of countries, e.g., current President of Portugal.

On February 22nd, while opening my portion of the IPM, I was asked by one of the delegates "Why are you here?" And, as noted above, I stated, "To serve." That answer was and remains valid. But at the end of the day upon being approached by a young Kenyan, Kevin Chege - newly elected president of AIESEC Rwanda, my reason for attending took on a simple ands profound added dimension. In short I was there to benefit from his insight and thoughtfulness, and to receive from him his small booklet, "The Little Blue Book Kenya." What I read could be important lessons for us all.

Kevin lays out a solid awareness of Kenya's, indeed Africa's, problems. And while different from problems faced by US and other countries I’ve recently visited, what he offers is a lesson in personal responsibility when it comes to creating solutions in the here and now. I asked him for permission to duplicate portions of his booklet, and he said "OK." So I have. Please read on, and as you do ... try inserting the name of your organization or your family or your community or your business or your country in the places he has used "AIESEC" or "Kenya.” Substitute the name of something that is deeply meaningful to you and see how this affects your perspective. To clarify, Kevin Chege is Kenyan and when he wrote the following he was an AIESEC Local Committee President in that country. But he has captured the attention of others internationally in his organization and has gone on to create solutions elsewhere -- in this case Rwanda where he is the AIESEC newly elected Country President. Rwanda, like Kenya, is place with a history of dramatic problems. I think he'll have his challenges there, but with support he will do well.

If you want to contact Kevin Chege directly then I hope you will. If so, please send email to him at If you want to support his efforts through financial contribution, please do so. He can it as he goes about making the difference that he will - for constructive leadership, for sustainable living and for a more peaceful world.


"Part Three - My Solutions (by Kevin Chege)

Looking at the problems facing Kenya today, I ask myself, 'Can I, as a young student who is a member of AIESEC, who has networks in 89 countries with fellow students, who regularly meets the most influential people in Kenyan business, make a real positive impact on Kenya?' These might seem to be very mundane questions. In fact, most AIESECers will immediately give 'Yes' as an answer to the three questions. But then I ask, 'Why do you need to do anything for Kenya?' and 'Are you already doing something positive consciously?' and 'How can you do it then?'

These second batch of questions are the difficult questions to answer. Some of us don't even ask ourselves these questions. The sad reality is, most people will probably go through AIESEC without even knowing how to personally gain from it. To such a person, the concept of Kenya gaining from AIESEC just does not begin to arise. So let's start at the questions, and try to answer them together.

1. Why do I need to do anything about Kenya?

This is a very simple question for those who call themselves patriots. However, the vast majority of people in this world simply don't care about anything except themselves. They exist in a world of 'ME.' Let's try and open their eyes a bit.

Anywhere you go in this world, one of the first questions anybody will ask you is, 'Where are you from?' - in which case you give the name of your country. To the person asking, you automatically get a tag based on their perception of your country. If you say Japan, people begin to think of robots, and Sony. If you say America, people think of George Bush, the war in Iraq and so on. If you say Kenya, people think of famine, and corruption. And based on their perception of your country, people will welcome you, or shun your company. Therefore the country tag is a very important tag in this world. It's why South Africans will get a Kenyan visa at the airport, but Nigerians have to apply at the embassy.

From that solitary example, we can see that your country of origin matters a lot. There are lots of other examples that I could give to illustrate the point but I believe that one example will suffice. Whey then should you try to make a positive impact on your country? My answer to that question is, because you must do it even if it is for selfish reasons ... not to mention the fact that you are the only one who can. Nobody will ever come from another place to save your home. They might help. But it is totally up to you to save yourself and your kind.

2. Am I already doing something positive for Kenya consciously?

As we saw before, most people will go through AIESEC without ever realizing how much impact the organization can have on their lives. Others will go through AIESEC with a game plan for themselves, and they will try to learn as much as they can, to experience all they can, and to gain all that they can from this platform. Then a very few number, perhaps less than 10% will not only gain personally from AIESEC<>The Kendo student practices furiously thousands of cuts morning and night, learning fierce techniques of horrible war, until eventually sword becomes "so sword"; intention becomes "no intention", a spontaneous knowledge of every situation. The first elementary teaching becomes the highest knowledge, and the master still continues to practice this simple training, his everyday prayer." - The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi, Japanese Swordsman (1584-1645)

In answering this question, I speak of AIESEC as organization. Hopefully, this gives you an idea of what to do as an individual as well. What it doesn't answer for your, it does for me ... and vice versa. That is the beauty of never knowing what God really looks life: it allows each of us to be unique.

Therefore, get the few basic ideas suggested here, have a desire to make a positive impact, then free your mind and try your own ideas everyday. The rest will come naturally."