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Last week we (the Global Leaders Academy) had our CEO-Circle retreat in Devon at Schumacher College. It turned out to be an amazing event.

Mac Macartney gave a wonderful speech: ‘The indigenous Indians were surprised that we, white adults, asked them what the meaning of life is. That is something that they taught their three year toddlers:

The meaning of life is to care for each other.

That’s nice and simple. To formulate your Personal Purpose has taken off the past years. But maybe it’s as simple as Mac states, just to take care for the people around you. It resonated with the 18 CEO’s in our group: ‘I feel that purpose is limiting myself,’ ‘Although I’ve searched for many years, I never found that wonderful and inspiring purpose,’ ‘To me purpose feels elitist. As if I am a superwoman who can change the world for the better,’ were a few of their comments.

To have a Personal purpose or not:  to many it’s clear that we’re heading towards the 6th mass extinction. Together we create results that nobody wants. We know the challenges humanity is facing:

  1. Social: there are 8 billionaires who own more than half of the population of the planet (Otto Scharmer shares in his new book that you could put them in a mini-van)
  2. Ecological: climate change is threatening us but even worse and more dangerous is the mass destruction of the biodiversity on the planet
  3. Spiritual: every 40 seconds someone commits suicide, that’s more than people are killed in wars, by terrorists or in natural disasters. Combined.

At Schumacher they try to live in harmony with the world. The founder Satish Kumar shares with us that it doesn’t mean that we should be depressed or worried because of all these challenges: ‘That doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t help to be worried. It’s better to make that (small) contribution and be the change yourself: Just take that first step! During my peace walk, I walked around the world, 8000 miles in total. I walked to the capitals of the nuclear world without any money. Do you think I could have accomplished it when I planned it beforehand? NOO way! I had no idea how to cross the ocean to America, or to cross the mountains, or the deserts! I just put one foot before the other and then I did that again!’ At 81 years he is full of energy to challenge and inspire us.

Nigel Topping shared over dinner his views about climate change and his movement ‘we mean business‘. He is a post graduate of Schumacher and one of the backbones and catalysts of The Paris Agreement (UNFCCC).

Next to these great contributors we were happy to have intense dialogues with each other and to deepen our connections. For some it was the first time that they had to clean toilets or were gardening as part of the program. It was the fifth meeting of our CEO circle in which we enquire into ‘How to synthesise technology, nature and humanity.’ Early July we will have our last gathering in Olympia London. I’m getting more and more clarity how tech, nature and we humanity interact.

One of the insights I got is: Technology is a reflection of who we are as humans. We can do wonderful and terrible things with technology. But technology limits itself to the boundaries of our conscious mind. It doesn’t go beyond our understanding. And if we dig deeper into nature we realise how little we understand. We have no clue for example about emerging properties: how come that the different -non living- elements in our cells start living when they are put together?


PS: Kent Allen took the picture above. These are Redwood trees that were planted many years ago. The owner of the estate thought it was a good idea to grow these since aeroplanes were built out of wood and with these trees he potentially could make a fortune…

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