Authenticity, Heart Centeredness, & Entrepreneurship
With James Arthur Ray
Me: So, let me first start by saying "congrats on your engagement." Since I am all about love, it is important for us all to celebrate love. Finding a partner who we can go through life with, to make our journey more joyful, is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves and another. Entrepreneurs talk a lot about loving their businesses and what they do; I am glad you are also embracing love with a "significant other." This is one of the many reasons we are here. We are not meant to go through life alone – I believe in my heart.
James: Well, thank you. I have an amazing woman that I waited many years for. I was married once, and did not want to 'settle." One thing she has taught me, is another level of love. In the past I was "married" to my mission. It is one level to fall in love with one's mission and yet another level to fall in love with another human being so fully, when it is correct! This relationship is a real awakening and opening up of my heart. We have common values and complement one another. Aside from a joint future together, we have a joint purpose and mission. I can't fathom any relationship with someone not based upon common values and same heart direction and drive. We are best friends and thanks for the congrats; as I am extremely blessed!
So many entrepreneurs have deep love for their business, if they are indeed heart centered. Those who start businesses, not for the money, but from what emanates out of their heart, know that love vibration. Having that love vibration for another individual is one of the many reasons why we are here. In my opinion, we are not meant to be alone, and we all deserve to be loved for who we are on a deep level.
Me: You have a very "holistic" view of the entrepreneurial journey, and you use the word "harmony" a lot, instead of balance. I am always using the term "Energy ROI," and I use the word "synergy" a lot. For me, there is an ROI to our energy. When you are making business decisions, do you go through some sort of "harmonic" intention? You do not seem like the type of guy who is always staring at spreadsheets and numbers. How do you decide if something is a yes or a no for you, in terms of time and energy.
James: I am not a "spreadsheet" type of guy, but I do have people around me who pay attention to spreadsheets and numbers. It is necessary when running a business at a high level, that there is someone at the executive level who is paying attention to numbers and spreadsheets. Energy is indeed the great currency. We do live in a world obsessed with IQ. There are mounds and mounds of research about EQ and the new AQ – adaptability; which is even more predictive of success. There are many "intellectual " giants who are emotional children. They make decisions based upon fear, hurt, insecurity. True leaders are able to heal and integrate; and others just spew stuff out onto others. In terms of ROI, we should change the conversation from those who are obsessed with the "intellectual" and the "economics" of life, to a conversation based upon "Return on Impact." The positive impact one is making upon the lives of other people.
I think that energy and EQ are the real determinants of long term success and happiness. I love the points that James makes about AQ and "Return on Impact," as well. Both are powerful no doubt!
I agree with James that true leaders lead from within, and work at healing core pain and core issues; so they are free from suppressed emotions and wounds. It is a real process, so true leaders embrace the process of unfolding, healing, and growth.
Me: You are one of the most gifted speakers and one of the most authentic individuals in your industry presently. Of course, this is my opinion. This is my interview, so I can say this. What is your definition of authenticity and what do you think about authenticity as well as heart centeredness in leadership positions today – especially in the "business world" in general.
James: Well, thank you for that compliment. Research indeed tells us that the heart is immensely more magnetic than the brain. Our heart is the area where we are fully moved. True leadership is both an art and a science. Art is why we are here...art, beauty, sensitivity, feelings, colors, are why we live. A true entrepreneur and leader brings his/her own masterpiece to the world. Also, it is EQ and AQ which separates us from AI's. A true leader should not only be relying on intellectual intelligence. Thinking is not feeling, and leaders should not be disconnected from their feelings, and their heart.
It is my core belief that life is all about art, creativity, and expressing one's innate gifts and talents. What James says about the true leader – who can blend art with science, and connect to one's own feelings and heart – is spot on, in my opinion.
Me: Do you think most are not truly authentic because, as a society, most of us are "programmed" from an early age, to be something we really are not. Very few parents, teachers, leaders are able to encourage innate gifts and talents which usually are quite evident at an early age. So each year, they get farther and farther away from who they really are. It is a "societal problem," in my opinion, the creation of human robots – really no different than a real "robot" program.
James: Our school systems in general are terrible. Of course there are a few exceptions. Not much has changed since working in factories. Read, remember, and repeat. There is not much relevance to today's society on what we need to be teaching our kids. Colleges too, in general are teaching to cram and memorize. Many children are taught to "go where the money is." I say a lot, that everyone has a "unique genius." Howard Gardner says that there are one and/ or two areas, where an individual has genius ability. We are all gifted by our creator, but if we are not willing to work, and not encouraged to find it, than that is a real issue.
I agree that our schools systems in general need a total overhaul in what they teach. I think colleges, as well. The School of Hard Knocks can provide the best teaching, though there is a lot of time usually spent on recovery and rebounding from "mistakes" that may have been avoided if provided the proper guidance, teaching, and mentoring. Importantly, there are a few programs that are really impacting kids in a positive way. One amazing program, based in Las Vegas, Inspiring Children Foundation, is leading the way to inspire kids through mentoring, education, and entrepreneurship. They are equipping children with life skills, and all of their programs focus on instilling life principles. They address the needs of a child's development, while implementing into all of their programs a sensitivity to diversity, character, and attitude.
Me: Many people, seem extremely "stressed out" these days, You have said that "stress is not the enemy – the real enemy is lack of recovery." This statement is really deep, and no one talks about the art of resilience and the art of recovery. It is an art. My mind embraces anything creative, so for me, this is indeed a "specialized" art. And we need "art" teachers/leaders for this. What are your thoughts?
James: One of the true keys to recovery is forgiveness. Many forgive, in principle. True forgiveness is the antidote, and gratitude is the cure. First one must forgive oneself. Second, one must come to a place of stop beating up on self. We do the best we can with what we know. Third, we must forgive others. The gratitude is imperative as we come to understand and ask the question, am I a better human being for all of this?
I have seen many suffer greatly from the amount of stress and thus "effort" it takes to "recover" from major setbacks. Others can tend to make things worse, with feedback that is really not helpful nor productive, so I think what James shares is quite powerful. One must forgive self first. This is one of the steps most leave out. The second and third of course are just as vitally important. One of my favorite Brene Brown quotes: "When I see people stand fully in their truth, or when I see someone fall down, get back up, and say 'Damn. That really hurt, but this is important to me and I'm going in again' – my gut reaction is "What a badass."
Me: Expanding a bit further on the last question, since setbacks are part of the entrepreneurial journey, and both recovery and resilience are part of this as well, what do you think about all this "positivity" and "fairy tale land" others portray building a business is? I feel like, in many ways, all the "positivity movement" has done, has set many back to some degree, as this is not reality. The truth is, entrepreneurship is tough, and is filled with challenges and ups -n downs. What do to think about all the "positivity" and smiley face stuff and fluff?
James: Real positivity is accepting that what is happening is what is best for one's future development.
I have gone through the school of hark knocks and in my opinion, our society makes it harder for a well intentioned individual to come back and reinvent themselves. Most business leaders are not well versed in the "art" of the comeback, especially in the times we are living in. Entrepreneurs have setbacks, some of them tougher than others, and some experience one setback right after another like a tornado. Many of these setbacks often are out of the entrepreneur's control, so they get "blindsided" and end up in a place they never could have expected. James wisdom he shares in his statement – "real positivity is accepting that what is happening is what is best for one's future development" is extremely powerful. Deep truth in this. I also think it is important when going through "setbacks" to not pay attention to the feedback of others, unless they are offering wisdom and true support. Another one of my favorite Brene Brown quotes: "A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we're defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you're not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I'm not interested in your feedback."
Me: I really want to thank James for his time for this interview. I really appreciated him taking time out of his busy day to chat with me. We spoke a lot longer than I expected, and his kindness and graciousness really touched me. I hope those who read this interview, get something valuable out of this, for their own unique journey.
For more about James, check out: jamesray.com