Beyond Ego Myopia: Shifting Culture through Conscious Business


Episode 234

Eric Kaufmann

Join Paul F. Austin for an interesting weaving of meditation, psychedelics, and conscious leadership, with renowned executive coach Eric Kaufmann.

This intimate conversation was recorded live from Eric’s “meditation temple” built beside his house in Southern California. Eric shares his journey from being kicked out of college to finding meditation and his early adventures integrating psychedelics into his meditation practice.

He reveals his insights from a year-long meditation retreat and emphasizes the growing need to bring humanity and spirituality to business. Eric lays out his two books and their roadmaps to conscious leadership. Finally, the two explore how psychedelics can be integrated into coaching to help leaders transcend “ego myopia,” which Eric sees as the biggest barrier to executive effectiveness and conscious leadership.

Eric Kaufmann:

Eric Kaufmann combines an unrelenting commitment to results with an unyielding regard for spirit. He is the product of forty years of Zen practice seamlessly woven into three decades of business leadership, both as a corporate leader and advisor to leaders.

Eric is an appointed Thought Leader at Harvard’s Institute of Coaching. He designed and taught the Coaching for Professionals program at San Diego State University, and has presented at TEDx. Author of The Four Virtues of a Leader and Leadership Breakdown, Eric is laser focused on teaching executives and leaders how to raise their game as human-centered leaders with bottom line accountability.

Eric’s teaching and guidance to clients such as Dr. Bronner’s, Verizon, ASML, Sunpower, Circle, SDG&E, Alcon, and Facebook, weaves in tried-and-true wisdom gleaned from more than 15,000 hours as an executive guide.

Eric has lived and worked on three continents, and managed and led at Fortune 100 firms. In addition to his degree in business, he is a certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Master Scuba diving Instructor. In his previous life, he lived off the grid in a mountain cabin he built by himself. Eric is married for 25 years and is the blessed father of two remarkable young women who know how to navigate the Matrix.

Podcast Highlights

  • Finding spiritual communion through meditation
  • From being kicked out of college to finding meditation
  • Eric’s early adventures integrating psychedelics into his meditation practice
  • Revelations from a year-long meditation retreat
  • Turning home and work life into spiritual practices
  • The growing need to bring humanity and spirituality to business
  • Cultivating community outside the workplace
  • How conscious business practices can shape culture
  • Unpacking the four virtues of a leader
  • Transcending ‘Ego Myopia’ to conscious leadership
  • Integrating psychedelic experiences through coaching
  • Eric’s vision for creating more conscious leaders
  • Learn more about Eric’s books

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Podcast Transcript

0:00:00.0 Paul F. Austin: Welcome back to The Psychedelic Podcast by Third Wave, where we explore how psychedelics can be integrated into culture for the evolution of humanity. This is your host, Paul F. Austin, and today I am speaking with Eric Kaufmann, renowned executive coach.


0:00:16.6 Eric Kaufmann: We seem to have drifted deeper and deeper into a remarkably binary world. Nature and life and the cosmos and spirit is not that binary. And my most fervent wish is that leaders can correct their ego-myopia, and physically arrive in this experience of nuance. 'Cause from that place, tolerance, compassion, love, are naturally pouring forth.


0:00:48.3 Paul F. Austin: Welcome to The Psychedelic Podcast by Third Wave, audio mycelium, connecting you to the luminaries and thought leaders of the psychedelic renaissance. We bring you illuminating conversations with scientists, therapists, entrepreneurs, coaches, doctors, and shamanic practitioners, exploring how we can best use psychedelic medicine to accelerate personal healing, peak performance, and collective transformation.


0:01:21.8 Paul F. Austin: Hey, listeners. One of the most profound gifts that psychedelics have given me is an appreciation for the beauty of life. I don't wanna just live a long life, I wanna live a healthy life. And once you get past age 30, you start to notice aging. It can take longer to recover from physical activities, and the mental energy I rely on to maximize my conscious experience can start to wane. Even things like joint discomfort and stiffness can start to creep in. Science knows a big culprit to feeling past your prime, it's senescent cell accumulation. Senescent cells are old worn-out cells that no longer serve a useful function in our bodies. They start accumulating in us past our 20s, lingering, wasting energy and nutrition, which is why they're nicknamed "zombie cells".

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0:03:03.7 S?: Whether you are a health coach, a nutrition coach, a relationship coach, or an executive or leadership coach, as a result-driven professional in the coaching space, the quality of the tools in your toolkit matter. Psychedelic medicines are humanity's most potent tool for personal and professional growth and transformation, and can be used to significantly amplify the results of your work in almost any coaching domain or existing framework. Coaches that add psychedelic medicines to their businesses in the next 12 to 18 months will be amongst the first to unlock and really pave the way into the future of transformational coaching, which is why our founder Paul F. Austin has worked tirelessly over the last several years to create the most comprehensive psychedelic coaching certification program in the world today.

0:03:56.8 S?: This certification program covers it all, from the science of transformation and behavior change, to how to best prepare, advise, and integrate your clients on their psychedelic journey to know how to consciously step into the right medicines, dosages, protocols, and experiences for your client's goals, and to ensure your business is positioned optimally to navigate the present legal landscape. It's all included in the certification program. And best of all, certified coaches are included on Third Wave's professional directory upon graduation, so that clients around the world who are seeking non-clinical, non-medical, professional help can find your business based on your geographical location. For more details, and to enroll yourself now in the next certification program cohort, beginning soon, please visit today. That's

0:04:57.1 Paul F. Austin: Hey listeners, this is Paul F. Austin, Founder and CEO at Third Wave, and welcome back to the show. Today we bring you an interesting weaving of meditation, psychedelics, and business leadership through an intimate in-person conversation I had with our guest Eric Kaufmann. Eric combines an unrelenting commitment to results with an unyielding regard for spirit. He is the product of 40 years of Zen practice, seamlessly woven into three decades of business leadership, both as a corporate leader and advisor to leaders. Eric is an appointed thought leader at Harvard's Institute of Coaching. He designed and taught the Coaching for Professionals program at San Diego State University and has presented at TEDx. Author of The Four Virtues of a Leader and Leadership Breakdown, Eric is laser-focused on teaching executives and leaders how to raise their game as human-centered leaders with bottomline accountability. Eric's teaching and guidance to clients such as Dr. Bronner's, Verizon, ASML, SunPower, Circle, Alcon, and Facebook, weaves in tried-and-true wisdom gleaned from more than 15,000 hours as an executive guide. Eric and I met through a mutual friend. We initially connected over Zoom and then I ran into him at a party in San Diego, this beautiful event hosted by our mutual friend Pablo, and we struck it up again and I was like, "Eric, we really gotta do a podcast."

0:06:14.3 Paul F. Austin: So I hopped over to his place and we recorded this epic podcast in his little meditation hut in his backyard, and then had Thai food together. It was fantastic. So in this conversation, we really unpack Eric's journey from being kicked out of college to finding meditation and his early adventures, integrating psychedelics into that practice. We touch on his revelations from a year-long retreat, and then we explore what Eric described as the growing need to bring humanity and spirituality to business. Eric breaks down his two books in the roadmaps they offer to conscious leadership, and we also explore how psychedelics can be integrated into coaching to help transcend ego-myopia, the limitations of our own mind, which Eric sees as the biggest barriers to executive effectiveness and conscious leadership. We jammed on this one. It was a little bit longer than usual, but we had a ton of fun, so I really do think you'll enjoy it. Again, if you wanna continue the conversation, join us in our free community at And if you want more episodes from us, make sure you follow The Psychedelic Podcast. If you wanna let us know how you're liking the show, we'd love to hear from you, just leave us a review wherever you're tuning in. All right. That's it for now. I hope you enjoy my conversation today with Eric Kaufmann. So Eric, it's great to have you on the podcast.

0:07:29.1 Eric Kaufmann: Great to be with you. Great to have you with me here in my meditation temple.

0:07:34.1 Paul F. Austin: Yeah. Tell us a little bit about... Tell our audience a little bit about where we are physically right now. Yeah, where... Presence us a little bit in terms of the location we're recording this.

0:07:46.0 Eric Kaufmann: We are in my meditation temple. This is in my backyard, in the back corner of the backyard. It's an octagonal structure. I built it 21 years ago when my youngest daughter was born. And my meditation room was upstairs, and when she was born, she needed a room and I still needed somewhere to meditate, so I built this. It's a parquet floor and wood siding. It's very plain. There's just a one kind of multicolored...

0:08:23.9 Paul F. Austin: Multicolored rug, right?

0:08:24.6 Eric Kaufmann: Some psychedelic rug in the center and meditation zafus and zabutons around there. And, the only thing that we use is for, is meditating. I've been meditating here for 20-some odd years. My wife meditates here. The kids on occasion meditate here. And this is a place to come and drop in to whatever meditation is for a person to drop into. But I needed to have... Meditation has been the central spiritual practice for me since the mid '80s, I think. '86 is when I started meditating. And I need to have a place, a physical space. It's my temple. This is where I do my spiritual communion. I can't imagine living without one.

0:09:14.7 Paul F. Austin: Yeah, it's interesting. I was on the 10-day Vipassana up in Joshua Tree about six weeks ago, and as part of the final instruction that Goenka gives on the VCR from the early '90s that they still play...


0:09:26.8 Paul F. Austin: As part of their discourse is, is he's like, as part of leaving the Vipassana, 'cause at the actual meditation retreat, you're meditating 10 hours a day for 10 days. So he's like, "When you go home, commit to one hour in the morning, one hour in the evening, and do it in the same place because there's sort of this energetic frequency and resonance where it becomes then the spot that you sit. And when you step back into that space, it's almost like you're primed to drop into a deeper state." And my sense is, for 21 years you've been probably coming here when you're here in town almost every day to have these sits.

0:10:03.6 Eric Kaufmann: Yeah.

0:10:05.2 Paul F. Austin: And I'd love to start there because we talk a lot about psychedelics on the podcast and we talk on occasion about meditation, but I'd love to hear a little bit more about what meditation has meant to you. Why is it that you started meditating in 1986? What was going on for you at that point in time? And how has your practice grown and developed over the last, what, 36, 37 years now?

0:10:30.1 Eric Kaufmann: Yeah. It's actually a really direct connection. I actually started meditating because psychedelics fucked me up.

0:10:37.8 Paul F. Austin: Really?

0:10:38.4 Eric Kaufmann: Yeah. I made it through two semesters of college before getting kicked out. I was like, first semester I got a probation letter and I ignored it, in second semester they said, "You're done." And I was done because I was just partying. It was '85, it was the Grateful Dead was still touring, I was in San Diego, Santana, you name it, they were all coming out here, and I was doing tons of mushrooms and acid and, speed and coke and, you name it. And, what I didn't know until recently was what we were calling "crystal" was actually meth. I didn't even realize I was doing meth. I would say, "I'd never do meth." I was doing meth. And I got kicked out of college 'cause I was just a total fuck-up. I had no grades. It was just a really, a bad scene. And when they kicked me out of college, it was this, I was an international student, so I was here... I was only in America on the good graces of being enrolled.

0:11:43.9 Paul F. Austin: Where were you from originally?

0:11:44.0 Eric Kaufmann: From Israel. I grew up in Israel.

0:11:45.1 Paul F. Austin: Ah.

0:11:46.1 Eric Kaufmann: And I came here to go to college. And so, that was... Kicking me out was like a bucket of ice cold water dumped on my slumbering consciousness. I was like... And I went, "Well, how does somebody get control over their lives? I'm 19 years old, out of control. I'm spiraling fast. My family is 10,000 miles away. I don't know anybody around." And so, I started looking around in real earnest, like, "Okay, how do I get a grip? What does it take to be responsible?" And so I started looking around everything that was available at the time, the different practices and the different traditions. And the ones that were very... I'm not really a bhakti guy, so there were traditions that were really just believe and...

0:12:46.3 Paul F. Austin: Faith verse sort of.

0:12:47.6 Eric Kaufmann: Faith verse. It was like the Hare Krishnas, it was fun to hang with, they sang the best songs, I've really gotten into the chanting. Best vegetarian meals in town. [chuckle] But when I would engage them in conversation, even at a young age of 19, it was rote responses. I didn't see the sort of rebel spirit that wanted to discover for themselves. And so I went quickly in order from group to group, and ended up in a, essentially a Zen-based community that immediately felt like this would work for me. There's structure, there's order, there's process, but there's this explicit invitation for an individual awakening that's still associated with the community. And just, my personality I needed that, I needed the structure and the discipline, the community, and the individual awakening. So meditation became the saving grace. And my teachers for a long time basically said, I'm not allowed to get around drugs, psychedelics, and... It wasn't called medicine then. It wasn't called... It was just called drugs. And they said, "You gotta stay away." And that held true for probably three or four years and... Yeah.

0:14:12.5 Paul F. Austin: And then what?

0:14:13.7 Eric Kaufmann: And then I realized they're wrong. [laughter] Yeah. Meditation, to me still to this day obviously is the central pillar, but not the only pillar. Fast-forward to now, 30-some odd years later, I see the practices having three components, the practice of whatever, the life practice. And meditation to me is a central one, because, I sit here wherever... What is meditation? Without getting into all the techniques of it, and the mechanics, fundamentally for me at this point in my life, it's an ability to listen really cleanly and deeply. And you might say, "Listen to what?" I don't know. It's just listening. And I'm using listen, you could use look or you could use feel, there's different senses, but the sense of opening up the channels really wide and being attentive to the signal while noticing the noise, is a craft of meditation. And in that, what gets cultivated that gets missed in a lot of the places is agency, real agency. If agency is my capacity, your capacity, our capacity, to be at choice. If that's what agency is, at some level, that I'm at choice. And showing up on the cushion, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, to practice being at choice is this remarkable cultivation of agency.

0:16:01.8 Eric Kaufmann: And that openness is also this cultivation of deep curiosity. What am I listening for? I don't know. I'm just listening. Signal. Tuning to a signal. Now, you bring that agency and curiosity into a psychedelic experience, and there's a whole new dimension of possibility that's available to that person once you throw open the gates of the limited thinking mind. And so, meditation and then the medicine, specifically the psychedelics, is so important to me together. And then the third part is this, what I call elder work. Working with trusted teachers or guides or mentors that can help in the sense-making component. 'Cause the meditation attunes you, the medicine opens you, but we still are wrapped around our preconceived notions of self, even when we come down from the great realization and having some third point of view that can help in a sense-making, really matures the experience beyond the flash of realization into a transformative movement.

0:17:15.4 Paul F. Austin: Who have been some of your greatest teachers or mentors on this path? Because the path you've chosen, we've heard a lot about meditation and there are many incredible meditation teachers, and especially in the last five, six, seven years, there's more and more elders coming out about psychedelics. And there's a few that have been known like Stan Grof and Jim Fadiman, but it's old but it's quite new. So I'm curious for you as you've been on this path over the last 35, 40 years, who have been some of those teachers and mentors that have helped you to make sense of the experiences and the experiments that you chose to engage with?

0:17:57.3 Eric Kaufmann: My teachers have been primarily in the meditation tradition. Morris was the head of the community where I lived for 13 years, and so a very direct teacher. And, Barbara was there. And then, Ezra Bayda and Elizabeth Hamilton were two of my teachers for 20-some odd years at the Zen Center when I then moved from... I left the community because I had this realization that the next level of discipline evolution was gonna be with family. Which was mindblowing for me, by the way, 'cause I'd resisted family for the longest time. I thought for sure wife and children would wipe out my spiritual practice. [chuckle] And then I had this revelation that says, "You are going the wrong way. Wife, children, service, community, is the next level of practice." And I was like, "Wow, really? All right. Let's try that." [chuckle] So, I left the community, started practicing at the San Diego Zen Center with Ezra Bayda and Elizabeth Hamilton and... Trying to think about who were more in the psychedelic realm. Norma Burton, I don't know if you know Norma from Oregon, has been helpful in terms of sense-making. Jamie Wheal has been a real ally and a great thinking partner in making sense of things. My wife, as a psychologist and somebody who cares about me, has been a phenomenal aid and supporter and guide in that regard.


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0:20:51.0 Paul F. Austin: So let's go back to the time in the community, because when we first connected a few months ago, we ran into each other about a month ago at an event, one of the first things that came up were some of these experiments that you were engaging with, and they caught my attention because as you mentioned already in the episode, when you first arrived at the Zen Center, they were quite strict about, especially from the background that you were coming from, no drugs. And like you said, about three or four years in, you started to chart your own path and figure out, "Okay, actually, what is it that I want to experiment with? And how is it that I wanna kind of go about it?" And I'm curious if you can just bring us deeper into what those experiments were, how you facilitated those, how psychedelics amplified your meditative practice at the time, how they deepened it, if they shifted it or changed it in some way. Bring us a little bit deeper into like, you in your mid 20s in the community doing experiments with meditation and LSD.

0:21:54.9 Eric Kaufmann: Sure. Back then it wasn't the San Diego Zen Center, just for clarity. It was an order by a different name but... So sure, I'll tell you one experiment that I pulled off. I spent a couple of weekends building a box, essentially, five or so feet long, and about three and a half feet tall, three feet wide. So a small coffin-like box. And my intent was to spend some time in that box in an isolated... Just, I realized early on that one of the great boundaries that I had to navigate was a boundary of my own fear. And fear is an intrinsic... I say fear is the basic mood of the ego. Fear is just a human, biological, psychological component. I realized early on that I wasn't gonna just be content with sitting and meditating or doing the other practices, I really wanted to explore a little edgier stuff, which was not necessarily the orthodoxy of the community, but it's what was turning me on. And so I did different experiences and experiments of isolation and being aware in the woods and being dropped off in foreign cities without any money or ID, and make... Finding my way back. And then at one point I decided I wanted to try this, this kind of isolation... This real... Being locked up. So I built this box, and then periodically I would go in and I would meditate in this box. And then it occurred to me, there's another level to this.

0:23:44.1 Paul F. Austin: And so I invited my friends, Michael Rob who, incidentally they are coming over for dinner tomorrow night. This is like 30 years ago, almost. [laughter] But they really are coming over for dinner tomorrow night. So it's funny timing. I hadn't thought about this story in a while, but... I said, "I'm gonna go into this... I'm gonna fast for 24 hours, I'm gonna strip down naked, get in the box, you guys lock me in there and I'm gonna take two hits of acid and sit in there for 12 hours." And they were like, "Okay." [chuckle] "Why not?" And I proceeded to do that. So I fasted, I took all my clothes off, I got in the box, took the two hits of acid, they locked off the thing, and then they stood guard as it were for the half day that I was in there. And, the experience of coming into this place of... I actually, at one point I was meditating. I was sitting and meditating in this box the whole time. It's physically uncomfortable. It's dark, it's locked, it's scary. I'm tripping my ass off. And fear comes up. And the experience of sitting in the fear, not like in your head, but in the fear like in every cell of the body, where the body animal is activated in this anxious response, to the point where I haven't told the story publicly before but, I actually urinated. I was so... I had never peed out of fear. I've heard stories of people doing that.

0:25:13.7 Paul F. Austin: I actually was so scared I couldn't hold my bladder. I was so terrified, I was peeing in this box. And the experience of not running, the experience of finding the trail of breath undergirding all this sensation and all this mental activity, the experience of having all this psychedelic material open up both the field of possibility and the field of paranoia, that can get switched on in that kind of openness. And then finding that thread of breath and bringing my consciousness back to this elemental thing, letting the storm rage the urine flow and the breath hang in there as that thread of not sanity but reality. And then the storm passes. Emerging from that box was actually emerging with a new sense of discovery and confidence, and personal power, that I could navigate this and go through this dark period, this dark moment, and then be okay. It was very emboldening and very empowering and very incredibly educational. Because I've been meditating, meditating, meditating, follow your breath, follow your breath, follow your breath, that sounds like such bullshit, follow your breath, follow your breath... But to actually just become one with a breath in the midst of that inner storm, it was a bit of a game-changer, it set me up to doing things a little more bolder than that, but that was certainly one of those.

0:27:06.5 Paul F. Austin: Well, and it almost sounds like it was like a rite of passage for your... Or a sort of initiation that you chose to participate in, because even the other things that you hinted at, getting dropped off in a foreign place with no money and trying to have to figure it out or doing super-long meditative sits, what I'm hearing in the story almost is, you were like, "How far can I push it?"

0:27:29.5 Eric Kaufmann: Yeah.

0:27:30.1 Paul F. Austin: And how... And I think urinating in a box on acid, blocked for 12 hours in complete darkness, I think about that and just fear goes through my body in and of itself. To go to that, to commit to that without... It's not like you were forced to do it. It's not like somebody was like, "You have to do this." It wasn't part of a training. It was just like you made that choice, purely to do it because you knew that you'd come out the other side in the way that you came out.

0:28:03.4 Eric Kaufmann: I didn't exactly know what would come out on the other side. I knew that I was up for the adventure, and I knew that I... I knew that there was a learning edge that, given my intellect and my physical strength that I could bullshit my way a long way towards, seeming like I've got it. And it was important to me to be... Even at a young age, I realized that I wanted to... I didn't wanna bullshit myself. I wanted to find... To your point, I wanted to find the edge. And not just... I think I was smarter when I was younger, quite frankly. I think I've become less smart in my old age, I'm not sure, but it feels that way. But I was so smart and I could learn so fast that I could feign wisdom. I would hold knowledge as wisdom. And it occurred to me that wisdom, for me, I'm not saying this is universal truth, but wisdom for me was going to be more critical from experience than knowledge. And so I wanted to participate in experiences that would expand beyond anything that I could know.

0:29:41.7 Paul F. Austin: Yeah, put yourself past the pale of normal reality and see if you can sink or swim and... I think as leaders, as individuals, as humans, we have way more capability and capacity to adapt and navigate uncertainty than we give ourselves credit for.

0:30:00.4 Eric Kaufmann: We do. And it's interesting 'cause when you say that, it makes me reflect on what I said earlier, one of the great... To me, the fundamental, maybe even one of the most elemental hacks of meditation is curiosity. It's described in different ways in different traditions, but essentially we talk about open-mindedness, we talk about being non-judgmental. There's terms that we use. But for me, practically, the hack is curiosity. And curiosity has this two flavors. One is like, how does this work? Figure it out. And one is like, what is this, this sense of awe, an open curiosity that is more of a exploratory discovery than it is a mechanical description? And I think that that second curiosity, that kind of awe has served me incredibly well in crossing these thresholds, as they have in business and in leadership. And God knows, with my children and with my wife. And I... Yeah, I was and am committed to that practical practice of awe.

0:31:17.4 Paul F. Austin: So, this... We're moving the candle, so we're outside in the temple. The one light bulb was broken. We have a single candle that's between us. It's, what, just past 5:00 PM. It's dark...

0:31:31.4 Eric Kaufmann: Yeah.

0:31:33.2 Paul F. Austin: Here. I can see your shadow and your face a little bit. It's... I haven't done a podcast like this before. I have to say, it's...

0:31:39.7 Eric Kaufmann: Me neither.


0:31:42.4 Paul F. Austin: It's a unique set and setting for a very interesting conversation. Let's jump forward a little bit, because next to me I have these two books that you were so gracious to go and grab, Leadership Breakdown and Four Virtues of a Leader. A lot of what we talked about so far has been you going through these initiations, these rites of passage, stabilizing within meditation and using that stability to further branch out, but in a much more, I would say intentional way to some degree, a much more, a way with much more agency. And now current presently, your core vocation is, you're a facilitator, you're a practitioner, you're a meditation teacher, but you're also an executive coach. And so I'd love to just hear, how do we go from urinating in a box on acid...


0:32:40.5 Paul F. Austin: To coaching and working with some of the most pioneering companies in the world today when it comes to leadership? What's the bridge between those two ways?

0:33:00.7 Eric Kaufmann: Yeah. I got kicked out of college. I joined the community. I got back into college, finished college.

0:33:06.9 Paul F. Austin: Oh, so you did... You made your way back into the high... [chuckle.

0:33:09.4 Eric Kaufmann: I made reparations and all the things necessary to get back in the system. So I did. And then I went and got a job at 3M and then I went and got a job at Corning in sales and marketing, in management. And when I was 30 years old, I was a young executive at Corning in the marketing department, and by day really buttoned down, tie, the whole thing and morning and evening in my community. Waking up, put on the robe, meditate, do the chores, drive off to... And at 30, I was in a very interesting juncture. I had been now working for, whatever that is, seven years or so. And I was really... I'm living in a spiritual community, so I am a disciplined son of a gun. And so work was easy. Getting, hitting the results, achieving everything. The general manager thought of me as this phenomenal rising star, "Here's a dude who's got his shit together. He's focused, he gets stuff done." At the same time, I'm living in this community where the teacher is like, "This cat's pretty serious. So we're gonna promote him and degrees of initiation, give him more responsibility and make him a teacher in the order." And at 30 years old, I was like, "Oh, wow, there's two very distinct paths. I can go deeper into my spiritual tradition and the teaching tradition, or jump off here into the GM track and CEO track down the road."

0:34:46.1 Eric Kaufmann: And I thought about it a lot, I reflected on a lot and realized, I wanted to spend my life in the spiritual tradition. Essentially, I quit my job, shocked my boss. He's like, "You're doing what?" I quit my job. And I decided to do this very old kind of menu of meditations and rituals that were designed in our order many, many years ago, that were designed to help somebody really get in touch with the holy guardian angel as a one English version of it, this high vibration state of consciousness. It would inform you about the nature of your life. And so, I quit my job, shaved my hair, liquidated all my money, gave it away, burned my childhood photos. I was done with the world as we know it. Sold my fancy SUV. I bought an old F-100 pickup truck. And I drove to the mountains of New Mexico where my order had a property up there. Spent three months building a cabin. It was a 625-square foot cabin with one main room for living, a room for meditating and yoga, a bathroom, a kitchen. I built the entire thing, right, from the ground up. And then to initiate myself into this cabin, I moved in...

0:36:16.7 Paul F. Austin: You didn't lock yourself in another box, did you?

0:36:18.0 Eric Kaufmann: Well, I had a cabin now.


0:36:19.2 Eric Kaufmann: It was a full cabin. It was much more comfortable. I could actually pee in the composting toilet that I put in there. And so... But no, I actually decided I was gonna really make a threshold between the one life and the other. And so, the day I moved in the cabin, I started a two-week fast, and I did a 14-day fast, which I broke on four tabs of acid. [laughter] I've never told this story publicly, so it's a funny thing. But that was the beginning of like, "I'm gonna sit here for, whatever." And I ended up... And it was an intense thing to do, just that.

0:36:58.5 Paul F. Austin: A 14-day fast followed by four tabs of acid is, that's another level beyond the box.


0:37:06.3 Eric Kaufmann: It's way than that level.


0:37:08.5 Eric Kaufmann: It's funny to talk about it now, 25, 26 years later. But, yeah, it was a really intense blast-off into this, what ended up being a year that I spent there...

0:37:24.5 Paul F. Austin: In the cabin...

0:37:24.6 Eric Kaufmann: In the cabin.

0:37:24.7 Paul F. Austin: The desert of New Mexico.

0:37:27.3 Eric Kaufmann: In the mountains of New Mexico...

0:37:27.6 Paul F. Austin: Mountains of New Mexico.

0:37:27.9 Eric Kaufmann: 7500 feet. It was close enough to the community that people would bring me food. I didn't have to... I didn't venture out. I didn't have to go anywhere.

0:37:35.1 Paul F. Austin: Oh, so you lived like a monk basically, you were in there and more or less alone for the better part of a year in that cabin?

0:37:40.9 Eric Kaufmann: Yeah. Yeah. Not talking to anyone, in silence. Yeah. Just living there and meditating. I was meditating. I did that four hits of acid, and then I didn't do any more psychedelics for the rest of that time. It was just meditation. For another podcast, I could tell you the amazing... When they say you don't need psychedelics to go certain places, it's true. But you need a setting that would imitate or emulate that, right, which is hard to do in our ordinary life. But the reason I'm telling you the story is, towards the end of that year or what marked the end of that period was this revelation, literally, I mentioned it before, an actual revelation, saying, "Your next level of spiritual evolution is not cross-legged in the mountains. It's with wife and children and service and community." And I remember getting that download and thinking, "Well, uh, no, this is not... "


0:38:35.1 Eric Kaufmann: "This is not at all what I had in mind. I left all that so I can live the rest of my life in the order... "

0:38:40.0 Paul F. Austin: Was that the intention then, you were done. You were...

0:38:44.5 Eric Kaufmann: I was done... This was gonna be like, "I'm gonna come back to the order, or I'm gonna eventually take over from the teacher. That's my life." Right?

0:38:52.7 Paul F. Austin: Okay.

0:38:53.6 Eric Kaufmann: There's structure, there's orthodoxy, there's a methodology, there's process, there's rituals, there's canon, the whole thing was there, and I just had to... I was gonna live that life. But that was not in the cards. That was just not... So I sat around with that download for a while and realized, "Well, I don't know another time in my life that I'm gonna get this clear, this tuned in, and if this is the download, then, I said meditation is about deep listening. How can I not abide by what I just heard?" So I packed up shop, went to the teacher, said, "Turns out I'm leaving." And he said, "Well, sounds like a good idea." And I came to San Diego and realized, I have experience in work and leadership and business, and I have a real love for business. I think of business as an actual creative expression. People who are starting and running and leading businesses, especially at the CEO level, at the C-suite level, there's an artistry. There's so many books about what to do and how to be in structures and operations and Six Sigma and Lean and all... There's all these wonderful things, but it's a creative process. We're making stuff up that wasn't there.

0:40:05.6 Paul F. Austin: Right.

0:40:08.5 Eric Kaufmann: And so I love that, the creative part. And I love this, the humanity, the spirituality, the profundity of who we are as people. And it's obvious to me that, in the modern context, very few people have somewhere else to go to tap their humanity because they're so tapped at work. And so, this blending of what I refer to my work now as combining an unrelenting commitment to results with an unyielding regard for spirit. And that's what turns me on, and that's what I've been doing for 20-some odd years. And so... And sure enough, I left the order. My wife and I have been married 25 years. My oldest daughter is 23, my youngest daughter is 21.

0:41:00.8 Paul F. Austin: Wow.

0:41:01.8 Eric Kaufmann: And I've been doing this corporate work for just over 20 years, once I figured out the cadence and the rhythm and how to do it. And this idea of now we have this word "conscious leadership", that's come around over the past, I don't know, seven, eight years or so. It's a gorgeous construct. And there's such license. I gave a talk in 1999 at the American Society of Training and Development in Dallas at a conference, called "Spirituality in the Workplace".

0:41:33.3 Paul F. Austin: 1999?

0:41:33.4 Eric Kaufmann: 1999. It was called "Spirituality in the Workplace". And people loved it. And not one company hired me for anything.


0:41:41.4 Eric Kaufmann: They loved the concept, but they're like, "Okay, that is freaking out there, buddy." You fast-forward now, 20-some odd years later, it's not quite mainstream, but it's a whole lot easier to engage people in these conversations, let alone practices, than it was back then.

0:42:00.5 Paul F. Austin: Why is that, do you think? Why do you think we've seen such a growth of interest in weaving those two worlds together? Because when you think about the '60s, the counterculture was dropping acid, it was dropping out, it was about the spiritual practices, it was, we go to India, we meditate, and we're not... Even you had this, we're not going to engage in this sort of profane commodified existence? Now, ironically, just like you went through, a lot of those people ended up becoming lawyers or becoming part of it, but they still had that underpinning. Whereas now it's like, with Burning Man, with psychedelic work, with figures like Elon Musk who talk about doing psychedelics or supporting psychedelics. Why is it that you think in the last 25 years we've seen those two worlds come closer together?

0:42:56.8 Eric Kaufmann: That's a seminal question, right? It's really a critical question. I think there are a number of factors in this. One of the factors is that the society of the '50s against which the '60s generation was rebelling, was much more static and coherent, and non-diversified. Over the past 30, 40, 50 years, even something as mundane-seeming as global corporations have made it so that it's not just, if you're working at 3M or if you're working at Amazon, you've got people from all different cultures, you've got people from India, from Germany, from Arkansas, they're all working together in one place. And so you have this kind of, the stability, that was once homogenized is no longer homogeneous. One too, the entrance of women into the workplace has really shifted the experience bringing in the dimensions of feminine energy that were unwelcome and unseen in culture, in corporate culture before that, and you have a massive infusion of women into the workplace, not just as teachers and nurses, but in management and leadership.

0:44:20.0 Eric Kaufmann: And then you have the rapid decline of religion. Actual established religion has never been so thinly participated as it is now. People don't have the clear sense of directionality and morality that was prescribed by the homogeneous sets of religion. And you have this significant movement of power, to your point of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, power has shifted from government and church, to business. Businesses are the defacto shapers of the world now. And so, you look at all these factors and suddenly your humanity is much more prevalent in the workplace. If you dial back to the '60s, even the '70s, it would be popular to say, "Leave your private life at the door." We can't do that. We move around, we don't have the communities we did. Families are broken up, religion is down, everything's mixed in together. Things are unclear, and the workplace has become the organizing principle of our tribes, of our communities, of our relationships, of our sense of identity and meaning.

0:45:34.7 Eric Kaufmann: And so, we can no longer extract the human component from the professional component in the way that our parents, grandparents, whatever, could do in the '50s. And so it has... You talk about set and setting. The setting has significantly changed, and the mindset has changed with it. And so, you add to that one more dimension, this 24/7 always-on incredible communication, massive floods of information, and it's difficult to make sense of life. And so, again, the workplace has become our church, our community, our place of refuge, our place of meaning, and our place of context. And those are very human things. And so, this... Now the spirituality, the mindfulness, the awakening, the dimensions that were once relegated to these other locations like home or church or wherever, we don't have the time or the space or the inclination. So here we are, human beings in this really complex space.

0:46:48.3 Paul F. Austin: That's a great explanation. And it's almost like it's for better or worse. And that I feel like, what you've written about and even the work that you're actively doing, it's like, "This is reality as it is, not as we want it to be or not as we wish it were, or not as it once was, or not as it may be, but it's as it is." So if this is reality as it is, how do we ensure that businesses can create coherence, can create meaning for those who choose to participate in their mission and choose to support them and choose to get behind them from a conscious, intentional, point of agency, and point of creation?

0:47:28.5 Paul F. Austin: And I feel like that's like, you mentioned how we had all this homogeneity, we had a lot of static coherence, in the last 50 years, especially with the internet and smartphones and technology as it is, everything has become, as you said, diversified, we could even say decentralized, broken up. And it's almost like we're in this liminal space right now, where we're trying to figure out, how do we once again create coherence, create places of meaning that allow for the full individuality of the human, while also allowing for the full sense of community and connection? And it feels like that's the problem that business may be trying to solve more than just shareholder bottomline and quarterly returns and these sort of typical corporate things that have been the main incentives for the last, 50, 100, 150 years.

0:48:22.1 Eric Kaufmann: In the comments you just made, which I think are, again, so essential and important. You raised a... You said, how do we allow for the full individuality as well as the full community? I think we might be set up for a conundrum that's hard to crack on that one. In the largest terms, West, the US, we'll just talk about it then. We're US-centric right now. We're in Southern California. So in the US, we're an intensely individualistic society, wrapped around protestant notions and salvation by good works, and the notion of individual salvation, and, it's just very individualistic. Highway 5 has 12 lanes, I think, at one point. We each have our own car. I live in a house with a yard. I lived in community for a long time, but I live as an individualist. You have Japan, China, Korea, as much more collectivists, people think of themselves and more in the collective. That balance of the individual in the collective, I think, we're not... I don't think we're pulling it off well. I don't think we're pulling it off well. And I think that in the US, in particular, I forget the surgeon general's name who named loneliness as one of the epidemics a few years ago. I don't know if you came across that.

0:50:01.2 Eric Kaufmann: But to your question about how do companies solve for that, it's a tall order. It's a tall order. And in the '50s, companies that were overtly Christian, were solving for it in their own way. But are we willing to accept that a hardcore fundamentalist Christian business approach is okay? Some will and some won't. But, I think that it's not just the businesses we're trying to solve for it as much as the employees are demanding for it. And so a lot of business leaders, in my work working with executives and CEOs and their teams, some of them are really into it. You mentioned Dr. Bronner's, seminal, these guys are so authentically walking their talk. There's no bullshit there. They're legitimately doing it. And then there's lots of companies where, I had a conversation not that long ago with a CEO. He goes, "I don't understand why I have to be doing all this humanistic stuff. I'm here for the P and L." But it's become a demand from the bottom-up as it were. If you wanna be an employer of choice, and competing for good talent is always an issue, then folks want to feel like there's a sense of meaning, and a lot of that meaning isn't just about being the first to the moon or making the best chip in the world, there's something human about it.

0:51:27.4 Eric Kaufmann: But striking that balance between community and individuality, I propose that if we limit it to the workplace, we're setting ourselves up for great disappointment. There is necessary, necessary work to be done in cultivating meaningful community outside of work. Meaningful community. And meaningful community is one where we hurt together, we joy together, we stay engaged and connected with one another, not just for convenience or transaction, but because we feel bonded. And that's really hard to come by. And that, by the way, is something that the medicine and the psychedelics in particular are phenomenal for cultivating. You can crack open the shields of the heart and soften the boundaries and barriers of the mind and get in touch, not just with self, and cosmos, but with others. And so there's a... I think in that regard, that's one of the... I know it's being used now, but I think there's a potential for the psychedelics in particular, in helping cultivate that sense of connection and community. And so, I don't wanna limit it just to the workplace.

0:52:45.5 Paul F. Austin: Yeah. And it's interesting because, we do think of this duality as you mentioned before, we have work, we have our career, we have our profession, and then we have our life, we have our family, we have our friends. And even what I've noticed in... Third Wave is still young, I started it eight years ago. This will be a project that I work on for 30 or 40 or 50 years. What I've known is since the beginning is people will... People that I hire are people who come and work for, with me, collaborate with me, they will do so for a substantially less amount of money because it's something they care so much about. It's a mission that they care so much about, because psychedelics have meant so much to them. And so what I've always reflected on, it's like, what if the products and services that are created that we create, that we utilize, what if those are things that we actually need, those are things that we actually want? And what if business, instead of creating, in many cases, a lot of noise, rather than the true signal, what if there were more opportunities to create things that were actually fundamentally necessary for human flourishing? And then, building missions around those things to ensure that people aren't necessarily just working for a paycheck, but they're showing up to actually give a part of their heart and give a part of their soul to something greater than themselves.

0:54:13.0 Paul F. Austin: And, like you said, there's a risk to that. There's a risk to, feeling like, even me personally, having been building all this stuff in the psychedelic space for the last eight years, it's like, it's all or nothing, it's like my whole heart goes into this, my whole soul goes into this. That's not true for all CEOs, that's not true for all businessmen, but because of the particular type of flavor. And I think the utopian side of me is like, why can't we have more people create businesses, who create companies that are actually really helping humans in a substantial way? And if we had more of those, I think having more of an integrated work and work professional life with community and home life would feel more seamless and less maybe icky or like, "Eh, I don't know if I really wanna do that because work is where I gotta make this thing or work on this thing," then I'm like, "Eh, it's fine, I'll do it for a paycheck." Whereas my home life is where the heart is and where the love is and where the home is.

0:55:19.4 Eric Kaufmann: Two... I have two things floating up as you say that. And I love the vision of what you're painting. And I paint the same vision. I want my company to be the same way. I want all the companies I work with, or even not work with, to be that way. There are two things that float up. One, I'll call what you make or do versus how you do it. I'm gonna park that for a second. And the other one is, businesses emerge, for-profit businesses emerge as a response to market demand. Now, when a business gets large enough, like Apple, you are actually shaping the market to demand what you want. But there's only one Apple. And so, for the most part, a business emerges as a response to a demand in the marketplace. So there is, what we do versus how we do as one, and then there's what we do because it's desirable. And so I'll start with the desirable part, which is, as much as we want these CEOs, whatever, the organization, to be doing exactly what you described by creating a kind of space and creating the kind of product.

0:56:27.2 Eric Kaufmann: We also have to have a concurrent marketplace that has a demand for that service or product of good or whatever it is, so that it can be made to meet their needs. And so so long as we have a marketplace awash with people who are in this, what I call ego myopic state, right? Where they are caught in their own sort of base needs and they're satisfied with another bottle of beer or another kind of perfume, or old spice, not just the spray on, but now the fricking, lotion, who gives a shit, but people give a shit. And so people make it. So how, the one question is how do we then distribute sort of awakening among the populations so that the consumer is actually, discerning enough to demand the kind of goods and services that you and I would so eagerly put forth? I don't know how to solve for that, by the way, but there's a mass level awakening...

0:57:28.8 Paul F. Austin: LSD in the water [laughter], that's the yeah.

0:57:31.9 Eric Kaufmann: They try that in Ohio for a while, and a lot of people went to jail for that. That was pretty criminal. But yes, that's not the first time it's been thought of. But the... So then it brings me to the other, what can we sort of more control the, what we make versus how we make it, right?

0:57:49.1 Paul F. Austin: If in fact, an organization, okay, you mentioned Dr. Bronners they make soap. Everybody wants soap, right? It's not, I mean, the soap has got good ingredients. It's, organically, sourced, it's free. It's an amazing product, but it's how they do what they do, which is the game changer. I mean, the product is a product and they make a great product, but it's the way they go about the business, how they treat their customers, how they treat the marketplace, how they treat the suppliers, how they treat the earth, what they do with their, what they do with their profits. That's why they stand out as this like, remarkable, beacon of the work. Because if you can make soap. I mean, how much more commodified are you gonna get than soap? The only thing next to that would be more commodified would be toilet paper.

0:58:40.3 Paul F. Austin: Or toothpaste.

0:58:43.2 Eric Kaufmann: Or toothpaste. They make toothpaste.

0:58:44.6 Paul F. Austin: They do. Yeah.

0:58:45.2 Eric Kaufmann: Right. But I'm saying it's not always what you make, but it's how you make it. How you treat the employees, how you treat the community, how you treat your money, how you treat your investors, that every CEO has the power to affect, because that's what they're there for. They're there to shape the culture, the strategy, and the way of doing and the processes. And if you can affect the strategy, the processes, and the people, then you can actually be making soap or tin cans or whatever. But you're doing it in a way that honors, that's what I talk about, an unrelenting commitment to results. We're gonna get stuff done. Results have to connect back to the consumer market in a for-profit world with an unyielding regard for spirit. How do we not back away from honoring those non-tangible, non balance sheet kind of elements that are the deep humanity. That's to me, where it gets in control.

0:59:45.5 Paul F. Austin: That's a great reframe. And I want to then weave in your book the Four Virtues. So I'd love for you to talk a little bit about, when we talk about the how you do it, how did these four virtues that you outlined in your book relate to the how of the doing?

1:00:00.6 Eric Kaufmann: So, I would talk about both books together, the Four Virtues of a Leader, and then...

[overlapping conversation]

1:00:23.4 Eric Kaufmann: Both the books, both my books and my work is very much focused on that how do we do what we do? So you make choices. The four virtues of a leader are four classes of disciplines, as it were. I refer to the fourth virtues as focus, courage, grit, and faith. And focus is, answers the question, what am I creating? Courage answers the question, what am I avoiding? Grit answers the question, what am I sustaining? And faith answers the question, what am I letting go? And so to approach leadership from that... From these disciplines. The disciplines of being intentional. What am I creating? Is being intentional. Intentional means I'm in touch with my values. I'm in touch with my sense of identity. I'm in touch with the greater flow of universal interconnectedness, and I honor that.

1:01:10.2 Eric Kaufmann: And so there's a discipline about being intentional. There's a discipline about being courageous. Am I willing to walk? And I describe courage as walking towards what you would rather run away from. There's nothing magical about it. It's sitting in that box, you are in flowing. That's the funniest thing we're gonna focus on in this fricking podcast.


1:01:30.3 Eric Kaufmann: I've never said this in public, by the way. So right on. And sort of feeling that fear and staying present with it, not running from it, but facing it. It doesn't have to be that radical, but that's what the discipline of courage was required. And then the grit, persevering when you don't feel like it. That's really what grit is. It's being motivated is wonderful, but motivation waxes and wanes. And so grit is what... You keep showing up when you don't feel like it, when you're burned out, when you're tired, when you're depressed, when you don't have any hope.

1:02:09.8 Eric Kaufmann: And then faith, this remarkable discipline rooted in meditation and learning to let go, surrender the idea, surrender the identity, surrender the attachments, surrender the relationship so that the emergent has room to come in and inform what is, and you're not overly attached to just history and safety. Now, these are sort of ways of being that inform a leader how to bring themselves to a place that they can then be in their own vibrational way more awake. And what happens when a leader awakens is because they're always affecting their environment. They're distributing that, whether they say something about it or not. So that was the invitation and the four virtues.

1:02:55.1 Paul F. Austin: And those four... Just to repeat those again, the first one was.

1:03:00.6 Eric Kaufmann: Focus.

1:03:02.5 Paul F. Austin: Focus. Courage.

1:03:04.2 Eric Kaufmann: Courage.

1:03:04.3 Paul F. Austin: Grit and faith.

1:03:06.3 Eric Kaufmann: Grit and faith. Yeah. And actually, since we're doing all this sort of new revelation on your podcast. It was my translation of one of my teachers teachings to me that his teachers and his teachers and his teachers says before these were, mostly male teachers going back generations all the way to the alchemists. They had this thing called the four powers of the Sphinx.

1:03:27.7 Paul F. Austin: The four powers of the Sphinx.

1:03:33.1 Eric Kaufmann: I have a... I have the Sphinx tattooed on my body as the four powers of the Sphinx. And the four powers of the Sphinx in Latin were, and these were the things that the alchemists had to learn in order to be able to alchemize themselves, meaning to move from the draws sort of dull state of unaware to the awakened, enlightened state of consciousness. And the four powers of the Sphinx were Scire, Velle, Audere, Tacere, these were Latin words. Scire, Velle, Audere, Tacere. And it was translated as to know, to dare, to will, and to keep silence. And the Sphinx had the head of a woman to know, the forefront... The fore body of a lion to dare, the hind body of a bull to will, and the wings of an eagle to keep silent... And so once you mastered these four powers, that's when you could really be an alchemist to his transforming their sort of sleepy consciousness into an awakened consciousness. So to know Scire focus, to dare courage, to will grit, and to keep silent faith.


1:04:35.9 Paul F. Austin: I love this. It just keeps getting better.

1:04:40.4 Eric Kaufmann: That rabbit hole digs deeper and deeper.


1:04:45.2 Paul F. Austin: Let's talk a little bit about just then how you show up. If you're working with a CEO, if you're working sort of in a leadership container, you're potent, you yourself are an alchemist. How is it that you bring CEOs and leaders into this context of awareness, of awakening, of alchemy, to help them see why it's so critical to shift in the way that we've talked about throughout the entire podcast today? What are the things that you say or the sort of wisdom that you bring into a coaching container that helps CEOs and leaders to go... To get it, if you will? And that's probably... It's an art, obviously way more than a science.

1:05:39.6 Eric Kaufmann: This point in my life, I do it much more gently than I used to in my 30s.

1:05:46.8 Paul F. Austin: You don't lock them in a box.

1:05:47.0 Eric Kaufmann: No. Few people turns out, will sign up for that. I do three day meditation or treat twice a year. And, there're very sort of very in this tradition, but nobody gets locked off and there's nothing untoward. It's just a lot of sitting. But, I'm hired by smart, competent, senior level mature people, men and women. And I'm not hired there to sort of be an MBA in a box. Or a consultant. I'm hired to be their coach. What the hell does that mean? What that means is that this smart, competent, in charge authoritative person has kind of run to the edge of their field of possibility. So they can keep doing it, but they can taste, feel no, at some level. At some level, has to be conscious enough to articulate it.

1:06:49.8 Eric Kaufmann: They realize that there's a sort of a dimension of possibility that's available to them that they're not quite accessing. And so my work with them is, this is gonna sound somewhat new age, but it's an honest to God sort of response. My work as a coach is to open up the field of possibility, really, because these are smart, competent people. And once that field of possibility opens up, they can accomplish the things they know they could, but they haven't been accomplishing today. And that field of possibility lies behind sort of three veils, as it were. And that's my newest book.

1:07:35.5 Paul F. Austin: This one, the Leadership Breakdown.

1:07:37.3 Eric Kaufmann: Leadership Breakdown. And I refer to that as conscious leadership, but essentially I say, the number one barrier to executive effectiveness, I've come to call ego myopia. Ego myopia, the inability to see and manage our ego. And that ego is wrapped around these three basic needs. The need to be right, the need to be liked, and the need to have might. We wanna be connected, we want to seem competent, and we wanna have control. The need to be right, the need to be liked, the need to have might. And every one of us has that. And when you are a senior leader, you have that in spades because everybody's looking at you and they want you to be right, and they want you to have might, and they want you to be liked, right?

1:08:14.2 Eric Kaufmann: So it is a... This remarkable sort of collusion that happens between the person in charge and the people who are then their direct reports saying, we're gonna feed that machine. And now that ego myopia at some point becomes a barrier, an actual barrier to the field of possibility, because you get harder, stronger, tighter, more rigid in this ego myopic shell. And so the sort of corollaries to that, I've come to call wisdom, love, and power. And so my coaching work is around how do I help these smart, competent women and men cultivate their wisdom, get in touch with their love, and activate their power. So that the field of possibility can now flow through them and they can accomplish things that heretofore has alluded them.

1:09:14.7 Paul F. Austin: Wow. One of a friend and someone we've had in the podcast, his name is Peter, he often... He's a very much steeped in the Buddhist tradition, so he loves talking about, different Buddhist things. But one of the core things is this sort of... The art of infinity, if you will, the possibility of infinity. That, so oftentimes we get stuck in thinking that life or reality is a finite game, if you will, or there's only X number of possibilities. And so what I mean, even just as a reflection of what I'm hearing about what you're communicating, it's like removing that and allowing CEOs, leaders, individuals to see how capable they are. And psychedelics for me, when I first started working with them when I was 19, 20, they helped me to see through this sort of illusion of a finite conditioning. I was this way, I had these stories.

1:10:17.1 Paul F. Austin: They all of a sudden opened up this sense of I am capable of anything, a sense of sovereignty and almost a sense of... And not in a sort of ego grandiosity way, but a sense of divinity and godhood. That when we sort of own that and take responsibility for that, that we are the sole creator of our existence, then it becomes possible to make magic happen and to do things. And kind of coming back to the business conversation and product and services and what Apple did and what Dr. Bronner's doing, it's like all of a sudden it becomes possible to create things that may be ahead of their time, but that push the sort of consciousness of humanity forward in a substantial way. It requires courage. It requires, a commitment to something, a faith, I would say. And not knowing where it might end up. But there is a deep sense of, a playfulness that comes through with it. When I've come to recognize like, I in many ways have no limits, and why not play with existence in a way, play with reality in a way that is going to benefit those around me, and in reciprocity, then benefit my own life and who I am.

1:11:38.8 Eric Kaufmann: The psychedelics have a huge, catalytic effect. If I talk about ego myopia as the number one barrier, by the way, that's not just for leaders. We're human. All of us are subject to ego myopia. I am. You are. My kids aren't, they're so enlightened.


1:12:03.1 Eric Kaufmann: But you know...

1:12:03.2 Paul F. Austin: Your dog, definitely not. Yeah.

1:12:04.5 Eric Kaufmann: My dog. It's amazing.


1:12:08.6 Eric Kaufmann: Yeah. But, the psychedelics, so I'm... Pretty much every substance that I've participated in, and I can pretty much go A to Z and name most of what's available over the years. There comes a point when we come down the end of that, there's integration. There are a few things that seem to be universal in the experience for me and for, the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people I've done this with, and you have as well, right? One is people come down, there's a sense of gratitude. Gratitude, it's like, oh, I'm grateful to you. I'm grateful to the plant, I'm grateful to medicine. There's this real gratitude, which is heart-based. It's really in the heart. It's not the head, it's the heart. There's almost always some sense of infinity to your point, or the interconnectedness.

1:12:57.4 Eric Kaufmann: There's this... There's a wisdom that comes online that transcends knowledge and really hooks us in with this vast Indra's net of interconnected webs that make up this finite experience. And then there's a sense of, I can be more, do more. Our personal power comes online. So wisdom, love and power really do get stimulated and catalyzed in these experiences. Now, I'm not using psychedelics in the coaching work that I do, but you don't have to. There's ways to access wisdom, love and power, and enter into that field of infinity, of what I call field of possibility or what I refer to as that. And in that regard, so for example, I worked with a guy, he was really getting angry all the time. A very senior guy, scaring the bejesus outta people every time he'd get angry.

1:13:50.9 Eric Kaufmann: Anger at some level is a paucity or sort of an absence of wisdom, because anger is like my way and not right, must push, must have. As we sort of did the activities that switch on more wisdom and got more sort of nuanced and subtle, his anger, like depleted by magnitudes. Where he's not getting angry anymore. And people are like, well, what did you do? What techniques you... It's not so much techniques, it's right switching on this capacity for wisdom, which comes with self-awareness, which come with choice, which comes with agency, which comes with being aware of why I'm angry in the first place. Whoa, the anger diminishes. Of oodles of clients, sophisticated senior people that are grappling with people pleasing. They say yes when they should say no, they take on projects they shouldn't be taken on.

1:14:40.0 Eric Kaufmann: They ignore their family because they're trying to please their board, their peers, whatever. And we start working on some of this personal innate power components. And they recognize the capacity for not only self-respect, but boundaries and the power of a well-intentioned loving, no. And their lives get better, their teams get tighter, their home life is better, so it works on and off the field, as it were. At work and at home. But these are experiences we experience profoundly with medicine, and they're life changing, and sustaining them that to me is what sort of the coaching journey. If I'm working with somebody for a year or two or three years, really we're kind of solidifying that new field for them, and then they can travel as they will and dimensions that they want to.

1:15:29.9 Paul F. Austin: So we're... To be honest, I can't see how long we've gone.


1:15:32.5 Paul F. Austin: Because it's dark here and... But I have one last question, and then we we'll wrap up. I'm just curious, like what... Whether it's a prayer or a wish, or a hope, like what do you have faith in when you're doing this work with CEOs? What inspires you? What gives you... You have two kids. What gives you optimism about a better world for tomorrow? Knowing the impact that meditation psychedelics and just conscious awareness can have on the leaders who are responsible for the businesses that you know are shaping the world of tomorrow?

1:16:14.0 Eric Kaufmann: My fervent hope, wish, and prayer is that we'll talk about leaders in particular become really versed in what I think is one of the most sort of profound learnings from meditation, from medicine work, from spiritual awakening, which has to do with sort of the interconnectedness of all of life at one dimension and at a manifest sort of practical level, the nuance of life. We seem to have drifted, drifting deeper and deeper into a remarkably binary world and nature and life and the cosmos and spirit is not that binary. And my most fervent wish is that leaders can correct their ego myopia, and physically arrive in this experience of nuance, shades of gray, because from that place, tolerance, compassion, love are naturally pouring forth. From that place things like boundaries and agency and sovereignty, naturally pour forth. And a beautiful thing about living in this more nuanced experience is that we can end up being the real yin yang. We can end up being both masculine and feminine. We can end being both directional and open. We can be both intentional and in surrender, but we have to sort of cultivate this capacity for dimensionality and nuance.

1:18:07.1 Paul F. Austin: I like that dimensionality is a beautiful way to put it. Eric, thank you for, inviting me over to your temple and your backyard and to meet your wife and one of your daughters. And, thank you for all of the wisdom and love and power that you've shared on the episode today. I hope you had as much fun as I did, talking about all these things. It was... Yeah. This is great, especially with the candle. And, it was just a really beautiful conversation. So thank you.

1:18:42.1 Eric Kaufmann: I had a blast. Thank you. And I really appreciate you courageously and lovingly holding the space that you're holding and inviting as many people into it as possible. It's like deep bow appreciation for your work, sir.

1:18:51.4 Paul F. Austin: Thank you, Eric. Now, if you want to go deeper with Eric Leadership Breakdown, I can't read the subtitle right now 'cause it's dark. Remind me of the subtitle, it's...

1:19:00.4 Eric Kaufmann: How conscious leaders generate breakthroughs that enhance business in the world.

1:19:07.7 Paul F. Austin: And then four virtues in... And their... Do you remember that one?

1:19:12.3 Eric Kaufmann: The four Virtues of a Leader.

1:19:16.4 Paul F. Austin: Navigating the Hero's Journey Through Risk to Results.

1:19:19.0 Eric Kaufmann: Navigating the Hero's Journey Through Risk to Results. Yes.

1:19:21.4 Paul F. Austin: So. Four virtues of Leadership Breakdown. Eric Kaufmann, thank you again for joining us for the podcast. Hey, listeners, thanks for listening to my conversation today with Eric Kaufmann. Remember to go deeper into this episode with full show notes, transcripts, and any links that we mention in this conversation by following the link in the description. See you next week.

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