The Zen Leader: From Coping to Transforming

Ginny Whitelaw Full-Length, Integral Life Practice, Mind, Spirituality Leave a Comment

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What does it mean to lead in disruptive times? To sense connection, seize opportunity, and serve people.

Some call it the 4th industrial revolution. Others call it the Age of Connection. Whatever you call it, the increasing speed, complexity, and uncertainty of this time is changing the workplace and challenging leaders like never before. Ordinary leadership development may make your ego more capable, but it is not up to the challenge of resolving your reactivity to forces outside of its control, or seeing beyond your ego altogether to the essential connectedness between us all.

Dr. Ginny Whitelaw offers a practice that explores Zen leadership, an authentic expression of the connected Self to serve people, create value and beauty in the world and take away fear. How does it do this? Zen training is physical, emphasizing mind-body-oneness and developing in particular, the hara (lower abdomen). Developing hara leads to greater centeredness, resilience, and felt sense of connectedness. Cultivating energy in this area is like fire in the belly, directly related to movement, action and courage. One way to think about the work of leaders is turning the energy of ideas into things that matter. Through Zen training that penetrates narrow self-interest and strengthens this vital link to hara, leaders are better able to sense what’s worth acting upon, seize opportunity, and serve people. We help leaders find this joy, which is the fullest expression of their gifts in the world.

How it works:

The Coping to Transformation ILP module will equip you with the first flip of the physical tools of Zen training that can help you develop a felt sense of connectedness to the bigger picture, seize the opportunities in challenges, and serve people, not as other-than-themselves, but as extensions of a Self without limits. Ginny’s teachings and practices will support you developing the courage, resilience and groundedness of hara (lower abdomen), find your voice, master energy, and reduce your fear. What mindfulness does for self-awareness, the physicality of Zen does for self-actualization: i.e., bringing desired futures into the actual present through oneself.

This Zen Leadership ILP module will help you with:

  • What needs to be added to leadership training in disruptive times.
  • What to do with the pressure caused by rapid change.
  • How pressure can lead to breakthroughs.
  • What is the promise of a Zen Leadership approach.
  • Moving from coping to transforming leadership experience.
  • First flip: Loosen the body, settling the breath.
About the Author
Ginny Whitelaw

Ginny Whitelaw

Dr. Ginny Whitelaw is both a leadership expert and roshi (Zen master) in the Chozen-ji line of Rinzai Zen. She is the author of The Zen Leader, and founder of the Institute for Zen Leadership. She is also the President of Focus Leadership, and has taught and coached in global leadership programs for nearly 20 years. Formerly deputy manager for integrating NASA’s Space Station Program, she has a PhD in biophysics as well as a fifth degree black belt in Aikido.

Dr. Ginny Whitelaw didn’t dream she’d become an innovator in leadership development. She dreamt of being an astronaut, and wrote NASA at the age of 13 to ask about the courses she should take in junior high school to best prepare. Treasuring the letter they sent back, she followed its advice to study science, which led to 3 years in a high energy physics lab, a doctorate in biophysics, and a lifelong interest in energy and the human body.

From the age of 19, she also started intense physical training, first in martial arts, then in Zen, which led to a 5th degree black belt in Aikido and her becoming a roshi (Zen master) in the Chozen-ji line of Rinzai Zen. She has led dojo (training centers) in Houston and Atlanta, and currently trains and teaches at Chozen-ji Wisconsin Betsuin.

Along the way, she also made it to NASA. There, she went into management, not space, eventually becoming the Deputy Manager for integrating the Space Station program, and receiving NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal for her efforts. It was while attending her first NASA leadership development program that she discovered, to her own surprise, this was her work. She continued to learn everything she could about leadership and combine it with everything she knew about Zen, biophysics, and the human body.

For more than 15 years, Dr. Whitelaw has brought this rich background to the service of leaders all over the world. She co-founded Focus Leadership with an integrated, energy-based approach to developing transformational leaders and their teams. She has worked with numerous Global1000 leaders and businesses, including Dell, Novartis, JNJ, Bank of America, Precor, Sprint, EMC, XL Capital, and Prudential. She is a seasoned keynote speaker, having presented to such groups as the International Coaching Federation, Professional Coaches and Mentors Association, and European Professional Womens Network. The co-author of Move to Greatness (with Betsy Wetzig, 2008), she continues to teach Zen applications to leadership, in which the ideas of The Zen Leader have met with such enthusiasm, they needed to be written down.


The Zen Leader with Ginny Whitelaw and Ken Wilber

The benefits of integral leadership extend far beyond your professional life, and have as much impact in your living room (and even your bedroom) as they do in the boardroom. Whether you are a business leader, a CEO, or a stay-at-home mom, you will find this discussion to be exceptionally insightful, practical, and immediately relevant to your own life and work in the world. Listen as Ginny Whitelaw talks to Ken Wilber about how to be a Zen Leader, offering an exceptionally simple guide to help maximize your health, happiness, and productivity.


The Zen Leader: 10 Ways to Go From Barely Managing to Leading Fearlessly

The Zen Leader guides you through 10 flips that take you from barely managing to leading fearlessly – not by doing more, zoning out, or pretending you’re “all that,” but by flipping your sense of who you are and how you lead in the world. From inside out, you’ll learn how to flip…

  • …from coping with situations to transforming them
  • …from stuck tension to extension of your energy
  • …from playing to your strengths to strengthening your play
  • …from frustrated controlling to productive connecting
  • …and, ultimately, from ego-based managing to leading as your boundless, whole self