Teacher, Speaker, and Author
Power vs. Force
I had a wonderful time talking with Sophie McLean, a French citizen born in Algeria, educated in Morocco and France, with a professional career in the USA and UK. We explore the importance of leaders leading through power rather than force.
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A French citizen born in Algeria, educated in Morocco and France, with a professional career in the USA and UK, Sophie McLean has had an eventful life.
She’s been a helicopter pilot, a teacher, a designer, a relief worker, a war refugee, and a CEO. She’s been shot at, shipwrecked, and widowed. She’s lived on a farm, a boat, a penthouse, and an ashram. As a wisdom teacher, Sophie has spent decades leading transformational seminars to over 80,000 people around the world, of all ethnicities, ages, religions, and social backgrounds – all engaged with the universal existential questions of “Who and what am I?” and “What is my life about?”
Sophie’s new book: “The Elegance of Simplicity,” is a compelling, thought-provoking work of autobiographical fiction, one that communicates life-altering concepts proposing an effortless pathway to awareness. It’s a deeply honest and dramatic story of self-discovery, about what is possible when you take responsibility, own your power, and become one with life.
A leader is best when people barely know he exists when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.
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Full Episode Transcripts and Detailed Guest Information
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Welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast, the podcast dedicated to promoting leadership development and sharing leadership insights. Here’s your host, The Leadership Excelerator®, Eddie Turner.
Hello. Welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast
, the podcast dedicated to leadership development and insights. I’m your host Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator®. I work with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact through the power of facilitation, professional coaching, and professional speaking.
In today’s world of leadership, there are countless theories that we can apply in our pursuit of the practice of leadership and leadership development. I’ve studied several of these theories as most listeners of this podcast have. Today, I’d like to look at one that’s a little different for some in a different lens and the concept may resonate with you depending on your experience with this concept of Power Versus Force.
To talk about Power Versus Force so we can keep leading as leaders, I have invited the amazing Sophie McLean. Now, why do I say she’s amazing? She’s a French citizen born in Algeria, educated in Morocco and France and has had a professional career in the United States and the United Kingdom. She’s been a helicopter pilot, a teacher, a designer, a relief worker a war refugee, and a CEO. She’s been shot at, shipwrecked, and widowed. She’s lived on a farm, a boat, a penthouse, and an ashram. As a wisdom teacher, Sophie has spent decades leading transformational seminars to over 80, 000 people around the world as she’s engaged in two essential questions – “Who and what am I?” and “What is my life about?”
I’m excited to have with me Sophie McLean. Welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast.
Eddie, thank you so much. I don’t think I have ever been as welcome as you just made me feel. Thank you very much.
Well, that’s wonderful to hear. I’m just super excited to get a chance to talk to you and to be able to meet you. Tell me what I missed.
You didn’t miss much really. You captured my life very well and I am just someone that is a 100% committed to people living an extraordinary life to whatever it is for them to lead an extraordinary life and have the means to do it.
What does living an extraordinary life mean?
Well, living an extraordinary life means, the first, I think, condition is to play 100%, right? So, if you look at the word fully filled, it’s fully filled, right? So, it’s 100%. And fulfillment is the access to joy. So, to lead an extraordinary life, you have to give 100% of yourself to whatever endeavor you are engaged in. And success of failure, we all prefer to succeed, of course, but we will not exclude that experience of joy and wellbeing if you have given the whole of yourself.
Okay. And how does a leader get to the point of living this extraordinary life?
So, leadership is the most fascinating distinction, Eddie, because at one point, I think, a few years back we had what I call heroes, right? We had Nelson Mandela and even Einstein and we had Gandhi and we had people that faced with life circumstances, rose above the masses, and inspired all of us to do something. So, Martin Luther King gave us the possibility of the end of racism and Gandhi gave us the possibility of non-violence but if you look in the last 50 years, we haven’t had those heroes. And I think what is taking over now are corporations and organizations and some leadership in those corporations and organizations are the one, I think, that will take the human being culture to the next level. And that’s what I mean by leadership. We need to capture to still retain the inspiration, the vision, the ability to gather a team behind us but I think it’s going to be done in a different kind of context than it was before.
So, we’ve shifted from the leaders of the past, and some great examples you share there with us such as Dr. King and Nelson Mandela, who were people who rose from among the masses of communities to lead people and shifting from that to today being mostly the corporate leaders, your Steve Jobs, your Gates of such, people like that, Jack Welch, people like that who are the business leaders who are shaping the societal norms. Is that what I hear you saying?
That’s right. And they have the means behind them to do it and they can provide the leadership that the world needs so badly, right?
Yes. Well, good. So, you talk a lot about your concept of Power Versus Force. Tell us about that.
All right. So, if we look at the world we live in, the culture, the physical world, the material world is a world of duality. So, if you have good, you have to have bad. If it’s right, somebody has to be wrong, right? So, it’s good-bad, right-wrong, should-shouldn’t. And as you see when you listen to the news and you operate in the world, there is a lot of suffering and limitation and unconsciousness. And it’s the very nature of the material world that you need this duality, right? So, it makes it very linear. That means that you have to do one thing before you can do the second thing and I always use that example of our scholarity. We go to school, we go first grade, second grade, third grade. Then when you finish school, you can go to university. And when you do the first bachelor, you can do masters and then doctorate. It’s all very linear. You learn what other people learn before you and it’s based on a very clever kind of system, one needs to be clever, one needs to know, one needs to learn, one needs to remember and follow a lot of rules. And that is what I call Force is that you have to make things happen. So, energetically, it comes from you to the outside and you impose your will and you impose your force to make things happen. And that is, frankly, exhausting. I did it for quite a few years in my life and I did find that quite tiring. I’m somebody that is quite strong, so I could produce results but there was no experience of wellbeing, ease, and grace.
And then I tapped into that world of Power. So, those people that you spoke about – Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Bill Gates – those people that are providing this visionary leadership have access to something else than the linear. Nobody can dispute that. Nelson Mandela was in jail, in 9 square meters for 28 years, I think, and managed to bring the Apartheid down. It was not linear. It was not understandable. It was not being clever. It was using a certain intelligence that gave him power. It’s a very big distinction between cleverness and intelligence. And intelligence cannot be understood, cannot be explained. It is tapping into a world where things arise and come towards you versus you making them happen.
So, you’re saying that there’s a difference between the linear world that we live in where we take things in a sequence versus being able to sometimes rise from that and be able to access a different level of strength. Where does the strength come from?
So, it’s not strength. It is power. So, where it comes from? I’m not going to go too esoteric on you but it comes from quantum dimension. So, quantum physics is revolutionizing our view of the universe. Quantum physics is literally a revolution. The theory about quantum physics is that we believed before that everything was made of atoms and quantum physics is opening up the possibility that everything including atoms is made of consciousness. So, the whole physics world and many people are tapping into the what they call the quantum world. It’s not esoteric. It’s not to be scared of. It is where the power lies. It is a world that is outside of distance, time, and form but it gives you access to this power I’m talking about where things arise versus you making them happen. And, Eddie, we’re on this podcast, I followed you and listened to your podcast. You’re somebody powerful. You’re somebody that can produce results but there is 24 hours in a day. There is that much you can do and that much you can influence other people to do and there is limits but if you shift to the quantum world of power, it is limitless.
So, let’s take Gandhi. Gandhi was one of my heroes. Gandhi had no money. He was educated but not more than you and I. he was not especially good looking or charismatic and if you’re French, he was a really bad dresser frankly but there is this man with no authority and he had head of state bowing to him and he managed to bring the English empire out of India. How did he produce those kinds of results? His language. He had access to power and it really was not force.
So, what you’re describing to me comes across is what I’ve studied is the difference between authority and influence.
So, Gandhi didn’t have power or the authority that one would normally have but he had influence and because of this influence, heads of state would bow to him. Because of this influence, he was able to lead the people.
Right. So, had no authority. That’s where I’d go with you. He had no authority. He even refused to be Prime Minister and he refused to have the authority that a job title will give you. He had no authority but where I go away from what you say is that he had full power. Power is not authority. That’s two very different things. You can take it in a family, it’s easier to understand. A parent has the authority over the children but you see that some parents that they’re really battling a lot to get the children to listen to them. They have no power. The child will resist. And there are some other parents that have access to talk and converse with their children so that the child actually can see their self-interest in listening to their parent. That is power. Gandhi had through language the ability to speak in such a way that people listened to him. That is power.
So, he used language which is a tool we have on this earth to create our life. If you and I didn’t speak now, we wouldn’t get to know each other. If I didn’t speak, you wouldn’t know where I stand. So, language is a sacred tool we have to create our life but there are two different kinds of language. There is one that doesn’t empower people and another one that gives full power so that people are inspired and called into action. That power and that language is the language of true leadership.
Okay. We’ll have more Sophie McLean right after this.
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This is Simon T. Bailey, author, and you’re listening to Keep Leading!® Podcast with Eddie Turner.
So, Sophie, tell me a little bit about the power of intention.
So, Eddie, do you know when you meet someone, you know exactly when there is something off with a person, that they might have a hidden agenda or there is something not straight. It’s in the non-unsaid. Some people you meet and you feel straightaway comfortable and there is this kind of connection and you’re ready to trust them and some you cannot explain why but there is something off. Those intentions, even if they’re not spoken, are very real. So, if you have an intention to win over other people, to prevail, to dominate, to make it at the expense of other people, this is what you will get, meaning you will get people disempowered that won’t want to follow you, that won’t want to work with you, that will be left with mistrust, that will gossip about you and eventually you will pay.
And then there is some other people that have an intention to make a difference, that have an intention of course to do something for themselves but whatever that intention is, is for the good of humankind, it is for empowering others. And that intention, you will also reap what you saw.
So, we see a lot of people attempting to cheat or do things that have no integrity. They eventually will go down. So, I’ve met a lot of CEOs, I work with a lot of CEOs, politicians, people in the UN. And there are some people that produce results for a certain time and then it all collapses. And then they start again, they produce result and then it collapses. So, it goes up and down and up and down. Those are the people where the intention is not clear. It’s not aligned with contributing to humankind. And my experience is that at the time we are living through right now, it is time to create a new culture for humankind. I’m a philosopher by training and I did my thesis on Homer with Iliad and the Odyssey. That was 8th century Before Christ. And the way Homer speaks about human beings, you would think he’s speaking of human being in our century right now because human beings have not progressed that much. Everything else has. Medicine, technology, the artificial intelligence. I mean, the progress has been absolutely amazing except that humankind, human beings are staying the same that we were in ancient Greece. And that is getting unacceptable and dangerous, frankly. We are impacting the ecosystem, you can see now with what is happening with the virus, the economy is impacted. We are messing with the law of the universe and it is time to realign ourselves. And this is what I’m talking about. It’s time for a new culture for humankind, one where the intention is a world that will work for everyone with no one left out.
Very nice. And so, what do you see as the future of leadership?
I was going to do like Martin Luther King – “I have a dream” – I didn’t mean it but I will only follow someone and go behind someone that has clear intention to create a culture of connectedness, integrity, ethics, care for each other. This is the only person I would ever follow and accept the leadership of. And I’m not talking about a perfect person, nobody is, but the intention to create a world of workability is for me necessary and I believe that’s the leadership of the future. People that will go beyond looking good, people that will go beyond the established culture of making it, people that will go beyond just surviving hour after hour and just making it, and people that have a vision.
Thank you. And tell me a little bit about your study around the ego.
So, my expertise is in the ego, Eddie, because people have a very mistaken idea about the ego. People think that the ego is being arrogant or being a jerk or being forceful but that’s not what the ego is. The ego is everything you identify with and you’re not aware of it. So, as we grow up, we create this kind of character. If you imagine your life as a theater play, we are the main characters in that play. And the ego is how the main character relates to the supporting cast, to the circumstances, to the plot. And Shakespeare have said it so beautifully, he said “Life is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” So, from a very early age to about the age of 17 or 18, we create that character and that theater play. And we are not aware of it, Eddie. Nobody at school tells us about it. Nobody explains to us the design of human being. Nobody explains to us what it is to survive and that there is a possibility of being alive. So, the awareness allows you to deconstruct your ego and it is actually quite simple. It is not easy but it is simple. So, you deconstruct the play you have built for yourself and the character you think you are like we speak about ourselves like “Oh, I’m just that way. I’m strong. I am a hard worker.” No, that’s the character that we built. And once you are aware that not only it is you that created that whole play and the main character but that you have the power to create another play, one that will give you everything you dream of and that is what I call the deconstruction of the ego, it gives you access to 100% responsibility of your life and choice, the choice to be who you want to be.
So, let me give you an example. I’m speaking with you right now and I’m imagining all those people listening to us. So, I am trying to be clear and rigorous and transmit to you my vision so that everybody that is listening to this podcast will actually listen to what I say and maybe look at their own play and the main character there. So, that is a character that I have created called the wisdom teacher so that I can transmit all my experience to others but when I go on a date, if I’m the wisdom teacher, Eddie, I promise you it does not work. So, I have another character. And then when I go to my parents, I have another character. When I go to France, depending if it’s a dinner party or a huge gala, then I can adapt. And that freedom to always stay true to who I am but being able to dance with the circumstances of life is exquisite. And that is what is available when you get out of the unconscious ego and you create what I call conscious ego because I think you do need an ego to survive this life except if you go to a monastery or on top of the Himalayas, meditating without talking to anybody. If you are going to function in our world, you do need an ego but it makes such a difference if you are at the mercy of your inherited ego or if you have seen the matter of who you are being.
And I think those leaders that we are so inspired by that we spoke about, they did exactly that. they shifted from unconsciousness to consciousness and what they used was awareness. And awareness is always the ultimate power.
Well, tell me, Sophie, how would you summarize our conversation today?
At first, I’m totally, totally inspired that you will have me on your podcast, Eddie, because, as I said at the beginning, the corporation, the CEOs, the people at that level of operation are the ones that are going to make a difference in the world. So, I hope I’m reaching some when I’m speaking to you. And for me, I rejoice that somebody like you that is an expert on leadership and make a difference would be interested to have me on your podcast. So, I’m actually getting moved. So, thank you very much. That’s how I would summarize it – Yes, the victory, we speaking about what we normally don’t speak about.
Very good. And where can my listeners know more about you, Sophie?
I have a website called SophieMcLean.com. They can find all my courses and I specialize in one-on-one three-month sessions for CEOs and people wanting to make a difference in the world. And then I’ve also written a book which is Depiction of The Ego. So, I’ve used my life from beginning to where I am now, I used the ancient art of storytelling to show how to deconstruct your ego. So, I’ve put everything in my book. So, this is where to find me.
Wonderful. We’ll be able to put this in the show notes so that people can reach out to you.
Thank you so much for being a guest on the Keep Leading!® Podcast.
Thank you, Eddie. I was delighted to be here.
And thank you for listening. That concludes this episode, everyone. I’m Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator®, reminding you that leadership is not about our title or our position. Leadership is an activity. Leadership is action. It’s not the case of once a leader, always a leader. It’s not a garment we put on and take off. We must be a leader at our core and allow it to emanate in all we do. So, whatever you’re doing, always keep leading.
Thank you for listening to your host Eddie Turner on the Keep Leading!® Podcast. Please remember to subscribe to the Keep Leading!® Podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen. For more information about Eddie Turner’s work, please visit EddieTurnerLLC.com.
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The Keep Leading!® podcast is for people passionate about leadership. It is dedicated to leadership development and insights. Join your host Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator® as he speaks with accomplished leaders and people of influence across the globe as they share their journey to leadership excellence. Listen as they share leadership strategies, techniques and insights. For more information visit eddieturnerllc.com or follow Eddie Turner on Twitter and Instagram at @eddieturnerjr. Like Eddie Turner LLC on Facebook. Connect with Eddie Turner on LinkedIn.