My beloved friend and colleague, Eric Kaufmann has a unique perspective on leadership and life, and I have always found his insights to be spot on, practical, and really helpful. While having been exposed to it, I had never heard of what Eric calls “ego-myopia,” and never thought about it in this way, and how it holds leaders back from next level achievements. But after giving it some thought, it really does makes sense. This book is conversational, and full of fresh ideas and strategies that I’m confident will help any student of leadership, and particularly those of us exploring conscious leadership.
I know we’re all busy, but I think this is a book that’s worth making time for. Get your copy today.
Here are my two cents:
“Eric’s lived experience on the razor’s edge of driving business results, while elevating the spirit and potential of the people in the system is steeped in wisdom and authentic embodied experience not just academic knowledge. If you want to grow the next generation of leaders and take them from breakdown to breakthrough to breakout, Eric is one of the best in the world!”
–Neville Billimoria, SVP Marketing & Community Relations, Mission Fed
Do You Know Naatu?
This is Uber, Bad A$$ and will launch you into whatever you need next!
Naatu killed it at the Golden Globes and the Oscars this year and will take you to new heights…
As part of her lifetime commitment to empowering women with competence and confidence, my wife Barbara is starting another 8-week session of personalized women’s self-defense, 10 people max, on Saturdays- starting March 18 thru May 6th from 3:15 to 4:45pm in Encinitas.
Here are a couple of testimonials from women that just finished the most recent session, along with an article from last week in the news, about the importance of being informed, equipped, and fighting back.
The stats are informative and, in some cases, surprising, and the techniques (mindset and skill sets) work.
Seeing the change in the participants with respect to confidence and agency by the end of the session is both humbling and inspiring!
Do share this with the women you love in your life!
I have thought about taking a class like this for years and am so happy that I signed up!
At the beginning of the course, Barbara Sedgwick-Billimoria discusses the statistics and misinformation on the topic, which were very surprising.
This class will give you knowledge, power and help your build confidence for your own safety in this crazy world we live in.
The lessons you will learn will help protect yourself in the event of an attempted sexual assault.
The moves are simple and easy for any age group, if I can do it at 56, anyone can do it.
If I had a daughter, I would insist she go through this program!
I highly recommend this class and am grateful to Barbara and the extraordinary women I met thought the process!
This class was so empowering!
I do a lot of solo hiking and I’ve been afraid of being attacked on the trail.
In this class, I learned how to defend myself against an attack by striking the vital points on the body to incapacitate the attacker.
Each week builds on the last, with plenty of hands-on practice.
Barb is a gifted teacher, weaving compassion, humor, and strength into all the lessons.
I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to feel more prepared to defend themselves when facing the threat of a physical assault.
Women aren’t always safe, even in gyms. But fear is a good way of reining them in:
A lone female fights off her attacker. Is it inspiring or proof of inherent danger? Well, maybe it’s both.
“I was confident I had the strength and mentality to fight back,” Alma later said, for all the world like a victorious footballer at a press conference. “I would tell every woman always to keep fighting, never give up.”
When: Saturday Afternoons- starting March 18 thru May 6th from 3:15 to 4:45pm
Where: North County Dance, North Coast Business Park 535 Encinitas Blvd, Suite 103, Encinitas CA 92024
Whom: 16 years and older as mature content is covered
Topics Covered: Local and National Statistics, Myths of Sexual Assault, Awareness and Assertiveness Training, Understanding Physical and Psychological Boundaries, Self Defense Blocks, Strikes and Releases, Ground Fighting, Safety in the Car and in the Home
Cost: $175 with the class limited to 10 people. Payment due at registration. Venmo or Credit Cards accepted.
About the Instructor: Barb is a 5th degree black belt and traditional karate Sensei with more than 40 years of experience, with a master’s degree in counseling and is sensitive to the emotional responses of participants. She is dedicated to mitigating violence against women and sexual assault through education and awareness.
Here is a podcast I was interviewed on recently about the power of play
Featuring CEOs, executive coaches, and other business leaders, the “Lead with a dash of Play” podcast explores what “play” can look like in professional spaces, its impact on us and our organizations, and how to integrate a little play ourselves to build more compassionate and creative workplaces. The most recent segment “Play as Disruption” includes Mission Fed’s SVP of Marketing and Membership, Neville Billimoria, and shares how play helps us collectively build an innovative economy, and the ways play supports creativity and well-being. Listen to the episode at:
Are you committed to creating a high engagement culture whatever your role at work?
As companies search for new ways to manage their teams in a post-Covid world, creating a positive workplace culture is crucial for their success. In partnership with the California School of Management & Leadership (CSML) at Alliant International University, please join us on March 8 at 12 pm as Neville Billimoria, Mission Fed SVP of Membership/Marketing, presents “How to Foster a High Engagement Workplace Culture.” This virtual event will share insights on team culture, leadership fundamentals, conscious enterprise principles, and more.
An 8 Week Sexual Assault Prevention Course for Beginners
Dates: Each Saturday Starting March 18th through May 6th
Time: 3:15 pm to 4:45 pm
Where: North County Dance Located at: North Coast Business Park
535 Encinitas Blvd., Suite 103
Encinitas, CA 92024 Cost: $175
Class Limited to 10 people.
San Diego Statistics – Sexual Assault
National Statistics – Sexual Assault
Myths of Sexual Assault
Physical and Psychological Boundaries
Safety in the Car
Safety in the Home
About the Instructor: Barbara Sedgwick-Billimoria M.Ed. is a 5th degree Black Belt and Karate Sensei with Green Willow Karate. With more than 40 years of experience in the martial arts and self-defense, Barbara has taken the underlying tenants of karate and condensed them into an 8-week self-defense program. Barbara has taught this course to hundreds of students at UCSD. In addition, Barbara holds a Master’s degree in counseling and is sensitive to the needs and emotional response of her students. She is dedicated to mitigating sexual assault through education and awareness.
To Register or for Questions: Please call 760-815-6363. Payment is due at time of registration. Venmo or credit card accepted. Class limited to individuals 16 and older. Mature content will be discussed.
Dolphin Saves a Terrified Little Dog from Drowning in a Florida Canal:
Burt Bacharach, prolific composer of pop hits, dies at 94 “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” were among dozens of his chart-summiting songs.
An 85-year Harvard study found the No. 1 thing that makes us happy in life: It helps us ‘live longer’ In 1938, Harvard researchers embarked on a decades-long study to find out: What is the secret to a happy life? Contrary to what think, it’s not career achievement, money, exercise, or a healthy diet.
Woodpeckers went nuts, stashing 700 pounds of acorns in the wall of a California home Exterminator Nick Castro found the massive stash of acorns after being called to a home with a worm problem. “Bird was a bit of a hoarder,” he joked on social media.
This week: My Visit to San Quentin- Justice AND Mercy
My Visit to San Quentin
Last Thursday I spent an extraordinary day up at San Quentin prison in the Bay Area.
Thanks to a dear friend Matt, who has visited and volunteered at San Quentin several times over the years- as well as, donated uniforms for their sports teams so in those moments of suiting up the inmates can feel human- four of us friends and tennis buddies were afforded the opportunity to get a 4.5 hour tour of the facility and then played tennis with the inmates for 2 hours.
We happened to be on the tour with the Mayor of Hercules California, Mayor Alexander Walker-Griffin a dynamic 25-year-old African American man whose civil service is squarely focused on social justice and equity, and whose presence really added to the experience as most of the men incarcerated were Black or Hispanic, and the mayor represented a level of leadership and hope that spoke to them and also really resonated for me!
If you don’t believe systematic racism exists, then a proximal visit to any institution of incarceration will reset your ill-informed belief system.
Judges need to visit, and some do, but often anonymously.
Politicians writing regs need to visit and see the impact of their decisions.
Anyone who believes equity is bottom-up healing could really benefit from a visit- it will cure your “othering” and open your head and heart to the 2 million people in America that are incarcerated.
At San Quentin two people are restricted to a room that you can reach across end to end with your fingertips. The SPCA guidelines for dogs requires larger more humane facilities!
A tour of the dungeon gives you a flavor for what pre 1943 solitary confinement looked like with up to men in a tiny room with no light or heat or toilet. Just 3 buckets. One with water in it.
Basic human dignity were by the wayside in the name of justice.
This is not just about incarceration. This is big business… (read the article on women prisoners moved to a labor camp below)
Hurt People Hurt People-
The proportion of incarcerated in no way resembles the demography of our country.
In many cases, the backstory of their lived experience created disadvantaged conditions, whether access to opportunity, poverty, pay equality, education, emotional intelligence etc. that lead to bad choices and decisions that ended them up in prison.
Growing up in abusive families, locked away in rooms for days with only a bucket and if the bucket overflows you get beaten harder…
Robbing to get food for your teenage family and the armed robbery going south.
Story after story of hardship where demography IS determining your destiny were shared, heard and felt…
Once arrested, the experience is not equitable either.
Many only meet their public defender for the first time in court, and often have no clue about how the legal system operates, what their rights are, and end up pleading out so as not to make bad even worse. Take 6 years rather than get sentenced to 25.
Many public defenders, that often make less than half the pay of their counterparts in the private sector, are quitting in droves so they won’t be guilty of malpractice due to untenable case load volumes, and the inability to represent their clients’ best interests.
I am not saying many of the men in San Quentin did not deserve to be there.
Some humans simply can’t be out in the real world and need to remain incarcerated to protect society.
Many however, deserve a second chance, particularly if they are actively working a program of reform and have demonstrated years of model citizenship, accountability, and sincere remorse for their crimes.
Healing people heal people-
Unfortunately, many prison systems don’t offer the programs and services like San Quentin to help facilitate reform, unlike the Scandinavian model with is all about restitution and reform, so we should not be surprised when reoffenders after being released repeat old patterns of behavior, having been given no tools or resources to reform their ways.
As one man we met said, “if you take a wild animal out of the wild and put it in a cage for years, then let it out years later, what do you think it is going to do?”
Ironically, San Quentin has both the only death row in CA and one of the most progressive reform programs as well.
I witnessed the best and worst of humanity all in one day.
Some people suck. Some systems suck.
Some people suck because of sucky systems.
It is a way more complex issue than “you do the crime, you do the time” or “lock ‘em up and throw away the key”
Don’t get me wrong. I am not soft on crime. But after this experience I am also hard on shitty and pervasive systems of inequality and injustice, where if you have enough money, you can buy ice cream in hell, and if you have no resources you are relegated to the bottom of the social heap and left to rot.
For the individual, the light bulb has to go off and they need to genuinely want to reform and change
At the same time the system has to evolve and create the conditions for change
Some can’t or won’t change
Some can’t change because of the system
We can do something about the latter…
Want a solution to gun violence in this country? Has anyone actually asked those doing the violence what they think the solutions are? Their responses will enlighten you.
Anyone studying the positive deviants that in spite of horrific circumstances, are doing the reform work and understand the relationship between healing and forgiveness, between self-awareness and accountability? Who is telling this story?
Who is the redeemer?
What is redemption?
What really needs to be reformed?
Some of the guys including Doc and Earl we played tennis with last week
The tennis court is right in the middle of the yard, with different groups engaged in different activities all around you, including playing basketball, lifting weights (including literally pressing a bench, sometimes with another inmate on it), jogging, etc.
You can see the baseball field in the background…
More on the subject-
California’s only death row for men is at San Quentin. The prison was constructed by incarcerated men on the Waban, a ship anchored in San Francisco Bay and is California’s first prison. It houses around 3,776 people and is at 122.5% of capacity.
Mass Incarceration Systems in the US hold almost 2 million people in 1,566 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2,850 local jails, 1,510 juvenile correctional facilities, 186 immigration detention facilities, and 82 Indian country jails, as well as in military prisons, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories.
Mass Incarceration- The Whole Pie:
Can it really be true that most people in jail are legally innocent? How much of mass incarceration is a result of the war on drugs, or the profit motives of private prisons? How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed decisions about how people are punished when they break the law? These essential questions are harder to answer than you might expect. The various government agencies involved in the criminal legal system collect a lot of data, but very little is designed to help policymakers or the public understand what’s going on. As public support for criminal justice reform continues to build — and as the pandemic raises the stakes higher — it’s more important than ever that we get the facts straight and understand the big picture.
Further complicating matters is the fact that the U.S. doesn’t have one “criminal justice system;” instead, we have thousands of federal, state, local, and tribal systems. Together, these systems hold almost 2 million people in 1,566 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2,850 local jails, 1,510 juvenile correctional facilities, 186 immigration detention facilities, and 82 Indian country jails, as well as in military prisons, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories.
This report offers some much-needed clarity by piecing together the data about this country’s disparate systems of confinement. It provides a detailed look at where and why people are locked up in the U.S., and dispels some modern myths to focus attention on the real drivers of mass incarceration and overlooked issues that call for reform.
Listen to the episode called Looking Out -a man incarcerated at San Quentin who has figured out how to “look out” for dozens of critters around the place.
The System Preying on Women-
The dangerous experiment that moved women prisoners to a farm labor camp News reports in recent years have exposed a litany of horrors endured by women sentenced to U.S. prisons. Now, in a special investigation, Cosmopolitan reports on another bombshell: During the pandemic, in an unheard-of experiment, incarcerated women were moved to a prison camp on a multimillion-dollar private farm, where dirty, dangerous, meagerly paid work changed their lives forever.
Climate change, political unrest, random violence – Western society can often feel like what the filmmaker Warner Herzog calls, “a thin layer of ice on top of an ocean of chaos and darkness.” In the United States, polls indicate that many people believe that law and order is the only thing protecting us from the savagery of our neighbors, that the fundamental nature of humanity is competition and struggle. This idea is often called “veneer theory.” But is this idea rooted in historical reality? Is this actually what happens when societies face disasters? Are we always on the cusp of brutality?
World’s biggest prison built in murder capital of the world claims to be ‘inescapable’ El Salvador has a problem with gang violence and the prison population is on the rise, so they’ve built a ‘terrorist confinement centre’
Thanks this week go to Matt L, Peter D and Greg C for being my fellow travelers on this heart-wrenching, eye-opening, soul-searching experience and to all the staff and inmates at San Quinn that shared their stories with us!
Please pay it forward with justice AND mercy for all.
This week, I was afforded the once in a lifetime opportunity to invest a day of my life, visiting San Quentin prison, getting a 4.5-hour tour of the facility including “Death Row’s” exercise area, the yard, the infirmary, the dungeon and so much more, and then having the opportunity to play tennis with the inmates for several hours.
Hurt people hurt people
Healing people heal people
More on this life-changing visit next week, once I have had a chance to digest, process, and synthesize the totality of this experience…
Meanwhile here is a bit on me, as what follows next week is informed by what life experience preceded this, over more than 60 years of living multi-culturally in this crazy world.
Thoughts don’t come from “within”; neither do they come from “without.” They emerge “between.”
It’s the same with feelings. I like to think that the gentle dipping of a leaf under the weight of a dewdrop can set off a series of events that flow through us as (what we call) “depression”; and, that the molten formation of a rock, through the intra-activity of weather and technology and story, is experienced with “joy” in a specific moment.
I like to imagine that when a seed falls into the earth, it experiences grief, and its grief is met by the loamy femininity of the soil, and that is how trees sprout out with joy.
Perhaps those moments of unspeakable silence, when depths churn and sides groan, when words escape you, when a pill or a diagnosis doesn’t add up to much, when all you want to do is squeeze yourself into the tiniest place in the universe, it is because you – for all intents and purposes – are co-performing the disintegration of imaginal cells within a cocoon, and knowing the pain of becoming a moth.
-Bayo Akomolafe: “Tears Do Not Fall in Space” (from ‘These Wilds Beyond our Fences: Letters to My Daughter on Humanity’s Search for Home’)
Resolutions are easy to make, even easier to break. But what if a story or idea can motivate us in a whole new way?
These TED speakers offer different perspectives on our most common resolutions.
My fav is the Fun is One Antidote for Stress but they are all excellent!
Wanda’s dishwasher was broken, so she called in a repairman. Since she had to go to work the next day, she told the repairman, ‘I’ll leave the key under the mat. Fix the dishwasher, leave the bill on the counter, and I’ll mail you a check.
Oh, by the way don’t worry about my dog Spike. He won’t bother you. But, whatever you do, do NOT, under ANY circumstances, talk to my parrot!
I MUST STRESS TO YOU: DO NOT TALK TO MY PARROT!”
When the repairman arrived at Wanda’s apartment, he discovered the biggest, meanest looking dog he has ever seen. But, just as she had said, the dog just lay there on the carpet watching the repairman go about his work. The parrot, however, drove him nuts the whole time with his incessant yelling, cursing and name calling.
Finally, the repairman couldn’t contain himself any longer and yelled, ‘Shut up, you stupid, frickin ugly bird!’ To which the parrot replied, ‘Get him Spike!’
See – Men just don’t listen!
Thanks this week go to Kurt C, Larry H, for the bookends.
Stay resolute and pay it forward this year! Love, Neville
“If you are depressed, you are living in the past.
If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
Mindful Musings from Pema Chödrön:
“We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged enough or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect.
But from the point of view of someone who is awake, that’s death. Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and whole, self-contained and comfortable, is some kind of death.
It doesn’t have any fresh air. There’s no room for something to come in and interrupt all that. We are killing the moment by controlling our experience. Doing this is setting ourselves up for failure, because sooner or later, we’re going to have an experience we can’t control: our house is going to burn down, someone we love is going to die, we’re going to find out we have cancer, a brick is going to fall out of the sky and hit us on the head, somebody’s going to spill tomato juice all over our white suit, or we’re going to arrive at our favorite restaurant and discover that no one ordered produce and seven hundred people are coming for lunch.”
The trick is to keep exploring and not bail out, even when we find out that something is not what we thought.
That’s what we’re going to discover again and again and again. Nothing is what we thought.
Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about. The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit. It’s a very tender, nonaggressive, open-ended state of affairs. To stay with that shakiness—to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge—that is the path of true awakening.
Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic—this is the spiritual path.
Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing.
We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that.
The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
Looking Back –
10 Ways the World Got Better In 2022 2022 was full of challenges, but it was also a year of milestones toward a better future, scientific breakthroughs, human progress.
The year’s top health-related Google searches reveal people want to be healthier and happier Every year, Google lets shares what everyone searched for the most. This year, among health topics, the biggest concerns were exercise and better mental health, according to the results. Here’s what to do if you’re still searching for answers.
Why Invest in Learning a Wisdom Tradition Like the Martial Arts or Make Sure Your Kids Do?
A Whole-Person education means getting you Career, College (if that is in the cards) and Citizen Ready
That requires competence– academic achievement and character– Ethics “adherence to the unenforceable” or “what you do when no one is watching”.
The wisdom traditions can equip us with the discipline, life skills, mindset, heart set and skill sets to be successful – however YOU ultimately define success.
Academics can give you smarts but not wisdom.
We all know people who are so smart they are stupid.
Wisdom is applied knowledge, intuition, and experience combined to guide us in our thoughts, words and deeds…
Whether you want to apply a modern western psychological construct and actualizing your highest self as expressed by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where it all starts with our personal and psychological safety (student safety and campus climate in an education construct) then moves to our feelings of love and belonging, & ultimately elevates to big existential questions like “who am I?, why am I here? & what is my purpose?
If you prefer an Eastern philosophical construct the likes of:
Lao Tsu- chapter 38 of the Tao Te Ching later realized to actually be chapter 1 which guides us on the ascendency from; Ritual to Justice to Kindness to Goodness to Virtue
Or Kung Fu Tsu (Confucius) and his model of the scholar warrior with “Pen and sword in accord”
Or the Samurai philosophy “ichi e, ichi go”, translated as this moment is unprecedented, this moment is unrepeatable,
or various other traditions, martial arts has something for everyone’s development on the journey from self-protection to self-perfection.
Think of these as ancient skills for modern times.
They are 2,500 years old. They are the latest thing.
Whether is it grit and resilience= growth mindset which is why our system is named after the willow- you can burn it down, you can cut it out, and it keeps on growing, fostering:
Flexibility in daily life
The courage to stand up to your own truths and beliefs
Promoting lifelong learning (in communities of practice)
These are skills that will serve you well, + it is great exercise and good fun!
While different martial arts styles fit on the continuum from hard styles to soft, exoteric to esoteric, practical to philosophical, or modern to traditional they all tend to cultivate courage and self-sacrifice with values such as honor and humility, a service orientation and a respect for collective wisdom– standing on the shoulders of and learning from those that come before (sen-sei or sifu).
Whether you are pursuing the arts or sciences, (40% of UC San Diego students are in the social sciences btw) a whole person education is “what you have left once you have forgotten all the facts and figures”.
The shelf life of knowledge is 12 to 18 months, meaning what you learn as a freshman could well be outdated by the time you graduate from an institution of higher education, yet in that same time you might invest in a college experience you can complement your academics with lifelong skills and habits that will serve you for life!
If you are past the college years it is not too late to start and over the years we’ve had students from 5 to 80 years young.
I started teaching martial arts on campus when I was 19. I have been teaching martial arts, yoga and meditation on the UCSD campus for 40 years and I keep doing it because of what it has done for me, my family, my community, and for the thousands of students I have had the privilege of both teaching and learning from…
But this is not about me, this is about you!
You might be wondering…
So what is the best group to join?
Which is the best martial art?
When kung fu meets karate, or mixed martial arts meets ju-jitsu who wins?
This reminds me of the story of the Zen master who goes to the butcher and says to the butcher, “Give me your best cut of meat”.
The best cut. The best cut? “Every cut is the best cut!”
There is no best university. Only the best university for you. (if higher ed is or was part of your journey)
There is no best major. Only the best major for you.
Similarly, there is no best style of martial arts. Only the best style for you.
That said, here are some tips to help you on the martial path or the yogic path or any of the wisdom traditions that might be in your future.
Commit to starting and maintaining a practice. This “I have no time, have you seen my schedule”, excuse is just that- an excuse. Excuses are like belly buttons. Everybody has one. Champions consistently do what others are unwilling to do. If you want to be a champion or achieve success in your life, you have to decide to do what needs to be done and do it. Period. No Excuses.
Visit prospective groups that interest you, watch the classes, and pay close attention to the interactions between the student and teacher as well as the students with each other. Ask yourself what kind of learning environment supports your growth? Do you do better in a collaborative, relaxed space or do you need a good kick in the pants to bring out your best self? Pay attention and put yourself in their gi, jhing mo, hakama, or shorts, and see what fits…
Experience it for yourself! Try it before you decide you think you know what it is and what is right. Don’t believe everything you think. Leadership is a decision, not a position. Take the decision today to become the leader you are meant to be. You are the architect of your fortune. You are the architect of your misfortune. A fool blames others. A peaceful warrior takes accountability for themselves…
A new year is a special time to connect with nature and your own inner nature. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
The world needs you and your highest self to show up and make our world a better, stronger, kinder, more compassionate place where everyone, especially you, can succeed, be valued and be loved.
Martial arts can bring out your best self and has been doing this with its timeless, universal principles for 2,500 years in both the East and the West.
Strive not to be the Master but the Master Student and Artist of Life!
The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step
Take that step today
God speed and much love to you on your incredible journey in the way.
Remember:The difference between a black belt and a white belt is that a black belt is a white belt that never quit!