Nick Ross

Most profound experience in 2012:

There have been several to date but I would say that the most profound, literally and symbolically would be moving house with Tia, my partner of 23 years and becoming debt free for the first time in my adult life.

The move represents a shift in several major ways. We have moved from a suburban, modern house that was useful but never really us, to a smaller, rented cottage. It is an old building (18th century), rurally situated-it sits on the side of an iron age hill fort with amazing views-and very beautiful.  The moving represents a physical shift in the relationship- with our children who left home last Autumn. There is still a place for them of course and they really love the feel of it but it is different-it is ours.

The move represents a psychological and spiritual shift to a more reflective place, a time to take stock and to really consider our direction and future plans. We are buying kayaks so that we can play! For the first time in many years or new financial situation means that I can think more carefully about the kind of work I want to do and the amount of time I want to spend away from home. This is important as I want to work as much as possible on projects that are really meaningful to me with people who feel similarly called. A clear goal is to have more time for writing and this is already happening.

The move has been coming for some time-3years- but it has now manifested and is a real statement of intent about how we want to be in the world. The predominant feeling related to the move is joy.


Personal statement about what you want to bring to the world in 2012:

Satish Kumar very wisely says that there are two things we should do every day. They are to bake bread and take a nap. I am working on these two things in 2012!

In truth, this is a time of significant transformation for me personally in many ways; a shift from a very strongly external focus-being successful in the world–being in the world in general-towards a time where there is a profound inner calling for more balance between outward activity and inward reflection.

This process-with which I am deeply engaged- is about aligning my own inner nature with what I believe will be most beneficial in serving people in senior leadership roles in the next few years. It is my sense that in the face of great ambiguity, complexity and uncertainty in the world-at a time of tremendous need- there is a great deal to be said for creating simple spaces in which people can take necessary time to reflect deeply on core issues-personal, organisational and global. The implications on people’s choices today are tremendous.

My strong sense is that it is not sufficient for leaders to navigate only from an ego centric place in order to meet emerging global challenges. Sufficient ego is essential of course and there is a requirement to create environments that support the development of authentic psychological depth. Alongside this work I think there will need to be a focus on the cultivation of spiritual maturity-we might call this dual and complementary process the union of spirit and soul,, the reconciliation of masculine and feminine, solar and lunar principles. My want is to work with colleagues and friends towards creating learning spaces, models, stories, rituals and methods that can facilitate this process-a journey into maturity and towards wisdom through the medium of leadership. I imagine programmes with an orientation towards radical simplicity in teaching terms; allowing space, silence, poetry, story and dialogue to do much of the work. The story of the woodcarver by Chuang Tzu really intersects with my thinking on this at the moment and I will finish with this as an example of inward preparation, centering and interconnection with the external world of form. It feels something like a dance.



Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand of precious wood. When it was finished,

All who saw it were astounded. They said it must be the work of spirits.

The Prince of Lu said to the master carver: “What is your secret?”


Khing replied: “I am only a workman: I have no secret. There is only this:

When I began to think about the work you commanded I guarded my spirit, did not expend it On trifles, that were not to the point. I fasted in order to set my heart at rest. After three days fasting, I had forgotten gain and success.

After five days I had forgotten praise or criticism. After seven days

I had forgotten my body with all its limbs.


“By this time all thought of your Highness And of the court had faded away.

All that might distract me from the work had vanished.

I was collected in the single thought of the bell stand.


“Then I went to the forest to see the trees in their own natural state.

When the right tree appeared before my eyes, the bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt. All I had to do was to put forth my hand and begin.


“If I had not met this particular tree there would have been

No bell-stand at all. “What happened? My own collected thought

Encountered the hidden potential in the wood; from this live encounter came the work which you ascribe to the spirits.”



What you hope to achieve by your contribution

To co-create radically new spaces for human, growth learning and development, spaces that nurture mature leadership but ultimately don’t assume leadership to be an endpoin; rather a developmental vehicle through which opposite forces in psyche and spirit can be reconciled as part of a much larger journey for each soul; The quality of leadership that we seek can be summed up as the gentle nature carrying forth the great spirit. This is a radical and different orientation. To borrow from Bob Kegan, The step across the threshold from the self-authoring to the self-transforming mind-so rare in today’s leaders yet so urgently needed- requires that we help people go beyond the safety of the personal to a transpersonal reference in relation to the other, through a place of grace and surrender towards a vocation of service.


Favourite article:

My favourite article at the moment was written by the Irish philosopher John Moriarty as part of a larger piece of writing several years ago. I think John is one of the most original thinkers that I have ever come across and the piece that I attach has been tremendously stimulating for me during my own reflections this year. It is called Coming out of the Anaesthetic. It comprises a series of stories and poems from different cultures- including my favourite by Yeats; The wandering Aengus-Wrapped around each piece are John’s own wonderful comments and observations about life.


 Favourite community: My buddies at Holotropic UK get first prize here. HB is such a powerful yet safe way of radically exploring the psyche and consciousness and these dear friends are wonderful facilitators.