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When we look into the lives of countless leaders, across all kinds of various missions and fields of influence – the essential pattern to their self-actualization as a leader, shares a remarkably common structure.

That’s because the development of our potential is in reality, an ordered, dynamic process – much like the development of our own physical bodies, or for that matter, the development stages of a plant or animal.

Development is not random. Leadership formation follows a preset, predictable pattern or sequence. As such, the processes or movements inside each formation state, (as recorded by a number of researchers in the field), have often been identified.

This understanding is incredibly useful – particularly when you’re about to move from one stage to the next – to actualize a better version of ‘you’. Because when you understand what are the five-leadership formation stages, then you have a usable map to follow. If you have no map, you’re often lost.

A map like this can help us to locate our current position – i.e. what are the patterns of our particular stage – what are its gifts and strengths, and what are its challenges and reasons for getting stuck…. This map allows us to see what is the relationship between what we are currently feeling or experiencing, and the emergent, next stage that wants to come into being.

While the complexity of life may have us shifting between different stages at times, and of course, there’s always the ‘devil in the details’ of your specific life context – this does not detract from the usefulness of having a general map…

For a Self-actualization Quest is one of the most powerful experiences and processes that we can apply, when we seek to move from one stage to another.

But to apply this process in the best way possible – you must first start with the awareness of what is your leadership stage all about, and what is required of you next, as moving into the next stage…

So I want to briefly present you here with these five stages. And we will use the metaphor of the growth stages of a tree, to make this process more vivid.

That’s because leadership formation is a natural order – a natural growth process – and there are striking parallels between the two. (It is no coincidence then why many of the best sages in history also used the growth of plants to illustrate…)

So let’s begin:

Stage 1: Latent Leadership – The Seed


The word ‘latent’ means to have a quality or state existing within, but to not have this be developed or manifest yet. This potential is hidden or concealed, like with a seed.

The manifestation of a tree, from the smallest to the grandest – like the California Redwood, which can reach a height of 115 meters or the height of a 35-story building – all begins with a humble seed. The inherent potential of a tree like this lies in a very, very compact material, which originally measures just 3mm in length!

And yet, that is enough. That’s because the seed contains within itself all the information that is needed to make this unfoldment possible – i.e. it has inside a DNA code, and a latent energy resource, to transform this 3mm seed, to eventually become a 35-story high tree.

Likewise, in our lives, the first stage is to become aware of what is our unique DNA strand as a leader – what are our unique strengths, interests, ideas and formative experiences within us, all about? What is our unique ‘calling’?

Answers to questions like these form the essential building blocks that reveal to us our unique destiny, and who we are to become into the future.

For our greatness potential is not realized when we try to succeed ‘in spite’ of our past experiences and background. When or if it emerges, it is precisely because of these experiences you’ve had.

Leaders learn to embrace and to catalyze their unique life story and background, into a higher order – a higher ‘ideation’ from which something distinctively individual then emerges.

But equally important, is also the context in which a seed can find itself – like the soil, the landscape and the climate. For more than 99.99% of seeds never come to manifest their true potential as a tree – not because their DNA content is lacking, but because the environment that enables their flourishing, is not made available.

Instead, seeds are scattered on dry ground where they shrivel, or they are eaten by other life forms, or they find themselves in un-supportive soils, or are destroyed by basic elements like water and fire…

The good news is that we, as human beings, are not like plants. We’re not immobile and unable to move from the chance position we happen to fall in. We’re always free to move, and have the power to choose the right environment and right cultural infrastructure that can support the unleashing of our full potential…

Which brings us to the very first challenge – the very first place we find ourselves stuck and where a Self-actualization Quest is of immeasurable value – the revelation of the answer to:

·      “What is my calling as a leader all about, and what is the optimal environment that can best facilitate this flourishing? “

A properly designed Self-actualization Quest, for this stage of leadership formation, aims to discover just this. It activates the critical processes by which one can best recognize their calling, and to recognize where is the best environment for one’s optimal growth.

This often can happen without a Self-actualization Quest of course – a chance encounter, an intuitive prompting and so on can also do the job. But this stage ends when one does make a definitive decision, and they respond to their calling.

For when a path is truly chosen, the leader can then grow into the next stage…

Stage 2: Self-Leadership – The Sprout

In the next stage of growth, through favorable environmental conditions, the embryo inside the seed germinates into a sprout.

With the stored energy supply within, the seed breaks past its shell and comes to develop a basic root and stem system. With one part, the plant derives its sustenance from the earth, and with the other, it peeks outwardly into the world.

The root grows downwards in the soil, which provides anchorage and access to water and nutrients. While the shoot (or sprout) emerges above the ground, moving upwards in search of sunlight. It is necessary that the seed finds ‘light’ or else the whole process is halted and the plant dies.

The poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran beautifully expressed the implications of this stage, when he wrote that:

You are good when you strive to give of yourself.
Yet you are not evil when you seek gain for yourself.
For when you strive for gain you are but a root
that clings to the earth and sucks at her breast.
Surely the fruit cannot say to the root,
‘Be like me, ripe and full and ever giving of your abundance.’
For to the fruit giving is a need, as receiving is a need to the root.

In the second stage of leadership development, a person is usually in the process of learning and training for how to fulfill their calling – i.e. the process of developing a root and shoot. This process can take any number of forms, from formal education (academic or technical), to the education gained by doing the work directly, or through a formal/ informal apprenticeship into the field.

This is the stage where you come to know how to draw forth and manage the gifts which you’ve been given. Like with a plant, this is the stage where you learn the basic ‘metabolic processes’ of a leader – i.e. what do you need to know, what kind of skills are needed, and what kind of attitudes support you, so you’re able to lead yourself, and in turn others.

In this stage you’re building up the inner knowledge base, the skills and attitudes that are required of a leader, to perform to a sufficiently competent standard. This stage is full of various informal, inner tests, where you demonstrate first and foremost to yourself that you have a satisfactory grasp of ‘what it takes’.

Of critical importance is to establish here, your ability to self-lead – which is your power to decide and define what is worth pursuing, or what are the ‘right’ things – as well as your ability to to self-manage, which is your power to move yourself in a chosen direction, or being able to do things right.

Based on your capacity to confidently discern and to execute, leaders are then ready to move to the next stage…

But when you find yourself stuck at this level, this often relates to an inability to clearly discern, or an inability to execute with integrity. Furthermore, there is a lack of clarity of who is to be your tribe – who are you to serve, in what capacity and why?

Key questions for this stage are thereby:

·      Where should I focus my knowledge, skills and attitudes, as to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others? Who is to be my tribe? And can I trust myself to deliver?

A Self-actualization Quest for this stage of growth then needs to meaningfully target these key questions – as come to a point of resolve – and thus to establish a root and shoot system.

Of particular importance is not to just focus on ‘ideas’, but to also attend to the supporting infrastructures and resources. You need to get the clarity and confidence that your ideas are operating in the right place, at the right time, for the right reasons.

This is the ‘light-to-the-seed’ equivalent, and unless you have this ‘light’, it eventually leads to the end of a leader’s journey, at least in that particular location.

Stage 3: Probationary Leadership – The Seedling

In the next stage of a tree’s development, the seedling now develops its leaves which grow from the stem. The main function of leaves is to engage in the act of photosynthesis – the process by which the energy of sunlight is used to create carbohydrates, or food/ energy, which can sustain further growth.

The seedling is now continually growing and it develops woody characteristics that resemble the form of a tree – where the soft, green stem of the sprout begins to transform into a thin bark.

At this stage, the seedling also competes with other plants and trees for its share of nutrients, water and light, as well as fighting off harms like floods, frost, insects and animal consumption. Not surprisingly, it’s also at this stage that a tree seedling is most susceptible to dying.

In the life of a leader, this is the probationary leadership stage, where you step into your actual platform of influence, on a probationary basis.

It is at this stage that certain unique, emergent knowledge, skills and attitudes begin to take form – in line with your calling and preparatory training you engaged with earlier – as to now make an actual and measurable difference in the lives of others.

This stage is defined by the act of reaching out to others, like a tree unfolds its leaves. And likewise, based on the energy that you draw from impacting and influencing the lives of others, this is what is able to sustain your further growth.

It’s at this stage that you also begin to experiment with the application of your unique strengths and your unique style. Here, you’re rapidly learning via direct application and feedback, as to what works and doesn’t.

As this is the stage where your leadership is put into actual practice, you’re also beginning to form the characteristics of a leader – exerting a certain quality of influence and authority, over a limited range of people.

You’re beginning to lose your ‘greenness’, because your deepest lessons emerge from the relationships you’re forming with others, and you’re becoming aware of both the opportunities and inadequacies of yourself as a leader.

Like with a seedling in a forest, it’s also here that you come to realize your own competitive position in the ecology of local, national and global influence… What is your relationship to many other forms of leaders all around you, who are also vying for influence and authority?

Most emergent leaders get severely stuck at this stage, and they experience much frustration and heartache, because their productivity and efficiency of action do not match up to the aspirational vision they had for their life. In fact, for most people, this is where their leadership formation ends.

They are not aware that this stage is not about productivity, but that it’s about the inner recognition of your strengths and weaknesses, evaluated through practice, and thereby how to best strengthen your strengths, and minimize your weaknesses.

When you’re stuck at this level, this often relates to your ability to recognize your unique manner in which you best contribute – what are your signature strengths: i.e.

·      What is my unique voice as a leader? What are my strengths that when applied, make a measurable difference in the lives of those I’m called to lead?

The astute leader at this stage, like an artist, learns not to compare nor fear other leaders, but instead, they work to craft their unique voice, and unique style.

A Self-actualization Quest for this stage thereby needs to focus on fine-tuning what is to be your unique, strategic ‘competitive advantage’ as a leader.

Stage 4: Productive Leadership – The Sapling

The next stage in a tree’s life is where a tree undergoes the process of creating a sufficient vegetative crown to fully support itself. This is the formative stage that establishes the structural make-up of the full, mature tree, with developed branches and leafstalks.

To realize this structure, the young tree needs to undergo a number of rhythms in its environment. Typically, a tree needs a couple of years or more to form its vegetative crown by experiencing the cycles of spring, summer, autumn and winter, a number of times.

The sapling of a tree is what you typically find in a nursery. The tree is not mature enough to reproduce itself, but it is also at its most productive stage of growth and development. If it can be compared to a human being, this is the adolescence stage.

In terms of leadership formation stages, here is where the leader begins to effectively exert their strengths, upon their calling, and derives a sense of deep fulfillment in the process. There’s a sense of maturity and control, and this is why it’s a most productive leadership stage.

That’s because at this stage, the leader is learning to prioritize in line with his strengths and gifts. He has learned of the importance of saying ‘no’ to emergent opportunities that detract from the mission, so he can deliver his best on the things in line with his strengths and gifts.


The character of leadership reflects a sense of maturity, as the leader now appreciates the depth of wisdom which says, ‘you lead from what you are’. As such, a leader leans in on the importance of character, ethics and the cultivation of being as the source of one’s productivity.

The leader has learned to prioritize integrity, and now counts it as far more important than creating the right perceptions, or in being ‘better than’.

Here the leader has an optimal audience and a sufficient number of co-creators who support him or her on their mission, as the depth of the leader’s being is making a meaningful difference in the life of others.

The challenge of this level however, is how to become effectively productive. That is, how to align your best strengths, with the best emergent opportunities, so that the good you produce is maximized for all.

This is the great ‘simplification’ challenge:

·      How can I get the most out of myself, with the least resources, to the greatest number of people, so as to be the most fruitful that I can be?

The Self-actualization Quest at this stage needs to reveal how you can make the shift from efficiency, to effectiveness. Which set up the next stage,

Stage 5: Synergic Leadership – The Mature Tree

This is the mature phase of the tree, where it changes its fundamental makeup as something solid – the solidification of stems and branches into wood, and the hardening of its surface into bark.

It is at this stage that the tree develops its reproductive structure and the full means of producing fruits. Flowers form, reproduction follows, fruits emerge, and then seeds disperse, so the cycle can continue beyond its lifespan.

At this stage, the tree will grow as much as its species and site conditions allow. Most often the tree’s survival and flourishing at this stage is dependent mostly on its ability to withstand the external stresses imposed from without, rather than within. For once its internal structure solidifies, its greatest threats come from external things like insects, diseases, or other more vigorously growing plants or trees.

In the life of the leader, this is the synergic leadership stage, the realization of a mature leadership character and style, where there is a synergic effectiveness between their internal strengths and ability to self-lead, together the external community he or she serves and the overarching mission.

This synergic combination is the peak of leadership performance, where the total result is greater than the sum of the parts … where 1+1 = 3 or more. It’s living in synchronicity with the inner spiritual life and the movements of the spirit in the world, towards the transcendental.

At this stage, their impact often extends beyond their own circle of influence, across the boundaries of interests that got him or her started on this journey. Relational influences stretch out across all kinds of networks, as the fruitfulness of a leader becomes undeniable. The momentum built over this period, now extends in unforeseen directions and connections.

The last challenge of this stage is often one of ‘reproduction’, of leadership succession and how to effectively extend the established legacy, into the next generation. This is the question of how to ensure the vision cultivated stays relevant, that it grows and lives on, when the leader steps aside.

This is what the last stage of leadership formation is all about, and what a Self-actualization Quest aims to clarify.

So these are the five stages:

Stage 1: Latent Leadership The Seed and the challenge of discovering your own unique DNA of a leader, your calling, your mission and gifts;
Stage 2: Self-Leadership The Sprout and the challenge of knowing how to lead yourself, and where to direct your efforts, who is to be your tribe;
Stage 3: Probationary Leadership The Seedling and the challenge of knowing how to strengthen your unique voice, in line with what others value from you;
Stage 4: Productive Leadership The Sapling and the challenge of effective production, or how you can be maximally fruitful in your role;
Stage 5: Synergic Leadership The Mature Tree and the challenge of leadership succession;

So where are you on this journey? Even as we can also be ‘in-between stages’, in what stage do you find yourself mostly in?

Did any of these challenges ring true for you, and are you lacking the clarity and confidence that you need, as to emerge into the next stage?

Then a Self-actualization Quest of some form may be in order. We are here to help you to get this clarity and confidence, through a limited leadership coaching series, from where you will derive your own answer.

We’re just here to ensure that you have the very best processes needed in order to arrive at your solution, and we will do this in the following steps:

First, book in your free Fast Track Call with us and select your best date and time.
Second, complete the brief self-assessment and email us back your answers.
Third, watch the complimentary screening of our documentary and await our Zoom call at the agreed time.

If all this is to your satisfaction, here are 5-phases that come next:

The Five Phases in Your Self-Actualization Quest Coaching

1st: Awareness of Present Position

In the first coaching session, together with your coach – whether with myself or another coach trained in our framework – we take an objective assessment of your life, where you are stuck and why. It’s a comprehensive self-assessment of where you’re at, where are you stuck, and your desired destination or outcome.

In this first coaching session, we’ll uncover the results you’d like to arrive at, as a result of this Self-actualization Quest.

2nd: The Personal Wilderness Intensive Design

In the second session, behind the scenes, we take the results of your assessment and in confidentiality, we bring your problem to our team, as to innovate for you a custom made ‘Self-actualization Quest Experience’ – that incorporates just the right processes, for the breakthrough you’re seeking.

We’ll design for you a customized set of contemplative or philosophical practices, journal entries, readings, and whatever else we think is necessary, so you can make a fundamental heart and mind shift, and thus arrive at a clear resolution, which gives you complete confidence.

3rd: The ‘Meeting with Q’ Session

Like in the James Bond films, where 007 special agent goes to see ‘Q’ (the head of the research and development in the British Secret Service) – in this next coaching session, you here as the ‘special agent’, will receive your custom-designed set of tools, to help you succeed on your special op.

Here, you and your coach will review your tools and how to use them. You’ll be guided through the designed set of practices that we set for you, which you are to apply then on your Self-actualization Quest. We’ll get you prepared both physically and mentally for the experience – covering what to bring, where to go, and just how to undertake such an intensive…

4th: Your Self-actualization Quest

In the fourth phase, you will go out and do the Self-actualization Quest that we co-designed and you prepared for. You’ll undertake your own personal intensive – whether this is a vigil, a chilla-nashini, a vision quest, or a pilgrimage…

During this experience, you will then follow the set of practices and processes set out, as to discover the clarity of mind, and confidence of spirit, for what’s to come next in your leadership formation journey.

Behind the scenes, here at our headquarters, as part of your personal mastermind – we will daily affirm in faith, the realization of your authentic voice, and your spirit-led insight. So while you’re undertaking your intensive, each day your personal coach will also faithfully affirm your breakthrough realization, as a ‘trans-personal meeting of minds’.

5th: The Way Forward into Habit Formation

In the fifth phase, after your Self-actualization Quest experience, you will then have your last coaching session. Here, we discuss the revelations that emerged from this quest, and we will help you to further crystalize just what you learned from these processes.

We’ll then give you further tools and resources, for how to you can live out these revelations in practice. Our aim here is that whatever revelation you had – you want to integrate this revelation, as much as possible, directly into your habits. This session seeks to equip you for the long-term game thereafter.

And that’s it.

So now the ball is now in your court. You know all you need to know, and your first step is then to book your free fast track call.

I hope to hear from you.

Take care.

P.S. One Last Thing…

To take a Self-actualization Quest, is to engage in a timeless technology for how we can dramatically expand your awareness, creativity and power. They are causal patterns for lasting life changes.

Throughout both East and West, inclusive of Native Australia or America, our collective wisdom throughout time, all arrived at this same one conclusion… These practices are essential in learning how to combat the most difficult of enemies, the enemy of our ‘egoic self’.

It’s through intensive like these, that we become psychologically stronger.

Like Luke Sky-walker in the film Star Wars, where he goes to the swamp and fights his own shadow potential to become like Darth Vader – each one of us, to become great, needs this confrontation and strengthening of will towards the good.

For ultimately we all need to go beyond more information. We need to discover within ourselves – our original calling and the strength to will into being a new dimension of life, a better version of you.

What intensives like these can offer you is a direct connection with your own voice, with your own spirit or will…

For it is [You] that needs the power to make the right choices throughout life. And if you don’t have this strength of will to choose what is of highest good – of what use is merely knowledge?

This is why all the greats have taken Self-actualization Quests!

Although it may appear that you lose time in the process, they actually save you time in the long run. They offer a shortcut to finding your best version of self.

If you want to find your authentic voice, you need to take on your own hero’s journey.

I believe that everyone, at least once in their life, needs to cross the threshold of ordinary living, and go into the wild – as to confront your own in-authenticity and potential for evil, as well as the better angel of your nature.

Humanity has not yet found a better and more profound answer for how to tackle the great problem of how we can ever change ourselves for good, than to take on an intensive. After all…

If Jesus and Buddha needed a wilderness intensive to reawaken and think,
how much more do we?

For our life is like a great boulder that’s rolling downhill. The longer we have lived – the more years we’ve had to do what we have done, over and over – the longer has this boulder of habits traveled downhill.

This boulder now has great momentum behind it. Your present will power can only do so much to resist its force.

To regain control and to meaningfully change direction, this requires all of your faculties be active and that they come to work in unison, as to realign:

  • how you process things mentally,
  • how you interact physically within your environment,
  • and most importnat, how you come to reconnect with the voice of Your Spirit, Your Will

The clichéd, quick-fix solutions that most suggest, these fail because the same old patterns that you’ve live with up to now, these very same patterns never get interrupted.

So you wake up and are surrounded by the same stimuli, and the same triggers that pulled you out of line before, over and over. You then begin to think in the same way as you have thought before. Then you feel the same things that you have felt before…

And sure enough, you then act in the same way, like clockwork.

P.P.S. And One Very Last Thing…

Dr. Abraham Maslow once said that, “the story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short.”

Why? Because we’re culturally told to sell ourselves short.

Low expectations are everywhere (and only getting lower). Vulgarity and mediocrity is today’s norm. Expecting to become exceptional is the new dirty word.

In our present day cultural norm, the set prototype for your ‘average life’ is that you work at a pointless job, stay single, and feed the economy with your endless consumption – as to consume more things, more media, more places, more people. (Maybe get a dog to keep you company and then die.)

If you did not exactly follow this blueprint, and “love” has you now in a partnership with children, the second cultural norm is that you be miserable in this arrangement, or aim to be back in the primary prototype… (And certainly, if you yourself fail to conform to this consumerist life – your children will be indoctrinated for you, to want to.)

We think this is very, very far from OK. It’s frankly outrageous! Why do we support this?

This is why what we are suggesting here, is somewhat ‘counter-cultural’…

  • But we’ve had enough of being sold short!
  • We had enough of settling for a soul junkyard existence!
  • We hold as self-evident that our lives are too precious and valuable – to not become all that we can be.

If you think the same, then join us. If you know you’ve departed from your calling and are on the wrong road, the sooner you stop and turn around, the sooner you can arrive at your destination.

Don’t spend another minute driving further in the wrong direction. Every minute you go over, requires another minute more to travel back from where you started.

Remember, you’re mortal. You have no idea if tomorrow, or next week, or next year may be your very last on Earth. Are you ready?

Have you expressed your true calling, or have you exalted the social callings made upon you instead?

That whispering voice within you that calls out to live a life of joy and meaning, is very much real. That small voice is your ‘inner GPS’, saying it’s possible to go in another, better direction.

Listen to it.

You have the power to choose.

What seems most probable for your life, this doesn’t have to happen. You can make real instead, the ‘Possible’ – which come about because of your active choice.

And you’re not alone in this pursuit. Give yourself the gift of meaningful coaching, which can support you to rediscover and reignite the passion of your true calling.

Expressing your calling really matters, and our world, our culture will be permanently changed by the contribution that your soul seeks to make. It’s not just your life that will get better. It’s everyone else’s life too.

Be a real hero. Return to your calling, stronger.

Memento Mori.

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