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Vernon Sankey, Chairman of the Audit Committee and Board Member of the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee, Atos SE and Katey Lockwood, Personal Transformation Coach, Model & Actor talk to TheMindLine.

Vernon Sankey
Vernon Sankey

An eminent Leadership Coach and an illustrious Author, Vernon Sankey has been the CEO, Chairman and Board member of major international corporations including Reckitt & Colman plc (now Reckitt Benckiser), Pearson plc, Zurich AG, Taylor Woodrow (now Taylor Wimpey), Cofra AG, Firmenich SA, Gala Group plc and Atos SE, where he is currently a Board member, Chairman of the Audit Committee and Board Member of the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee. A Governor of Harrow School for 15 years, a Board member of the UK’s Food Standards Agency, and on the advisory boards of several international companies such as Korn/Ferry International, Vernon is also a former Chairman and co-founder of The Really Effective Development Company (RedCo Ltd), a coaching and mentoring company.

Throughout his career, and enhanced by his years working with RedCo clients, Vernon has applied his cognitive psychology, NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and people skills to mentoring senior executives, celebrities and high profile men and women from many different walks of life and at different stages of their career. As a result of a coaching engagement with a major international company, Vernon was invited to join its Board of Directors.

Katey Lockwood
Katey Lockwood

Katey Lockwood is a renowned Personal Transformation Coach and an exceptional Teacher. Katey’s personal development skills together with her NLP practitioner background and her knowledge of cognitive psychology and philosophy creates a unique platform for supporting businesses and helping individuals. Her personal approach is based on two, life transforming principles, ‘Know Thyself’ and ‘Be the change in the world you want to be.’ Guiding her clients (business executives, well-known celebrities, sportspeople and people wanting to make changes in their life) to work introspectively and to discover their true purpose, she helps them find a more effective, happier and successful way of conducting their life and career.

Katey has also been a Trustee of the Katie Piper foundation, whose vision is to have a world where scars do not limit a person’s function, social inclusion or sense of wellbeing. She worked extensively with Katie herself. Katey studied Philosophy at The London School of Economics and has attended numerous courses. Her previous career was in media, during which she has been a model, an actress and on the Harry Potter special effects team.

 The Art of Leadership and Harmony at Workplace 

Vernon: ‘Leadership shows up in the inspired actions of others.’ Leadership begins with an understanding, acceptance and total commitment to the idea of responsibility and service. Leadership is not the end of a journey where fame, wealth and glamour can at last be celebrated and enjoyed, but the beginning of a privilege and a responsibility. Leadership is a deeply demanding task requiring vision, courage, a sense of purpose and equanimity.

‘We came into the world for the sake of one another…it is the duty of leaders to be the guardian of their followers.’ Marcus Aurelius

Great leaders understand this immense responsibility, have self-awareness and emotional intelligence, listen attentively, are good judges of character and know how to create teams, an environment of trust and a common purpose. They understand that trust and loyalty have to be earned, not demanded and that the best way to earn this trust is to be trusting and loyal themselves. They communicate openly and as transparently as possible, treating people as human beings and caring for their wellbeing. They are humble and recognize that they do not know the answers to everything, being dependent on the goodwill and competence of those they lead.

They subscribe to the idea that ‘there are no limits to what can be achieved when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit’ and do not take credit for the work of others. They act and behave with honesty, integrity and authenticity and by example. They are enthusiastic. They expect to hear about issues and problems first, good news after. They are not afraid of taking decisions and have the self-confidence to be open with the mistakes they make. They view mistakes and setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth. Their greatest joy is the achievement and development of those in their care. So it all begins with self-awareness, understanding the power and problem of ego, having well-considered values, and the courage to do what is right.

A harmonious workplace is created when everyone is respected, people are listened to, there is a common, shared and motivating vision and purpose, and egos are properly managed. Leadership needs to be sensitive yet clear, fair yet decisive, open and transparent, competent yet humble. Bad behaviour and inconsiderate acts need to be addressed compassionately but without ambiguity. Mistakes are opportunities to learn. Blaming, rumor mongering and corridor complaints are not appropriate in an open and honest environment. Creativity thrives best in an atmosphere of calm anticipation and enthusiasm.

 The Evolution of Efficiency & Productivity from Inner Peace 

Vernon: There is much research evidence to demonstrate that people who have a positive outlook on life and are generally contented, are less stressed, make better team players, are nicer to be around, take better decisions, are better listeners, look for win-win solutions, collaborate better, have better work-life balance, are more in demand, are more likely to be promoted and are generally healthier, than their less happy, more stressed, more anxious counterparts.

Happy people are more ‘effective’, focusing on the ‘how’, rather than necessarily more ‘efficient’, which focusses on the ‘what’! ‘How’ we meet our obligations requires consideration of the psychology of human beings and the impact of any activity on mental health and wellbeing. It implies higher levels of emotional understanding, greater maturity, greater compassion, higher self-awareness, all foundation stones of inner peace.

Leaders, and indeed everyone who knows how to find their calm and serenity in times of difficulty, who know how to ride the rapids, avoid the rocks and go with the flow, who have an idea of who they really are, who have a positive outlook on life, care for those around them and thus have an ‘inner peace’, will tend to take wiser decisions that consider the interests of all the parties involved, are ‘purposeful’ and seek to serve the wider good.

High productivity is not the result of efficiency, although it is a contributory element; it is much more the product of an engaged, motivated, committed, enthusiastic and effective workforce, inspired by a higher purpose and belief in what they are doing, however mundane, difficult or dangerous. Do you know the story of the two rock carvers? The countries working the longest hours (efficiency) are not the most productive (effectiveness + quality). For example, Denmark is 25% more productive than the UK despite working 4 hours less per week, The correlation between long hours and mental health in the form of anxiety, stress, anger, fear etc. are well documented.

When we find our inner peace we view the world and take decisions from a place of stillness and calm. Happiness is the result of this ‘way’ or process of living life.

 Forgiveness as a Path to Inner Peace 

Katey: Forgiveness is our path to inner peace in that to forgive is also to ‘let go’.

The Way: Finding Peace in Turbulent Times has an intellectual component, of course. But its essential message is about learning to access the ‘formless’, to find who we truly are at the deeper level, to appreciate the metaphysical aspects of our existence and transcend our human body to find our true ‘humaneness’, our Self and our place of peace.

If we hold on to hurts and pains that have been caused by others but do not forgive them, it is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Not forgiving means allowing the poison of resentment, fear and anger to remain in the body, allowing it to continue to contaminate and torture the mind. This creates dis-ease of the energetic system and a vicious circle of pain and suffering. Forgiveness brings a relief from past events, a moving on from pain, a rebirth allowing ourselves to grow and evolve. Forgiveness is our connection to the sacred, a path to inner peace, the discarding of a victim mentality, a return to power, a trust in higher self and universal intelligence. ‘Let go and let God’ is the watchword of forgiveness and our trust in the power of Eternal Truth and Light.

 The Implication of Universal Intelligence in Human Lives 

Katey: Universal Intelligence is an abstract concept for the extraordinary, immense, amazing, infinite and eternal energy that is the essence of everything that has existed, exists and will ever exist. Other words for Universal Intelligence would include Eternal Light, the Eternal Void, Absolute Truth, Natural Law, The Gateway to All Understanding, God, Brahman, The Tao and, in the last analysis, Love.

The bond of man to God consists in reverend awe before a supernatural Might, to which human life is subordinated and which has in its power our welfare and misery…Both religion and science need for their activities the belief in God…It is the steady, on-going, never-slackening fight against skepticism and dogmatism, against unbelief and superstition, which religion and science wage together…’ Max Planck – Nobel Laureate in Physics. Human life is a microcosm of this macrocosm. It is a manifestation of this energy. We, and all of nature, are interconnected in this huge energetic matrix and we are all interdependent. What one person thinks and does affects everything else. Every expression of energy, including our thoughts and intentions ultimately touches everything else. The cause and effects of the climate change crisis, of the pandemic and of countless other issues humanity is facing are testament to this, and they affect human lives totally.

It is very important for everyone to understand this interconnectedness (in Buddhism it’s called ‘the doctrine of interconnectedness’) and that we are not ‘separate’ from Universal Intelligence, as our ego would like to persuade us, but part of it. Ultimately human lives and Universal Intelligence are one and the same.

 Improve My World: Origin and Major Renderings 

Improve My World is a website, co-founded by Katey and Vernon, dedicated to self-improvement and to helping our world become a better, safer, healthier and happier place. It was founded at approximately the same time as the writing of The Way: Finding Peace in Turbulent Times and the publication of The Stairway to Happiness.

Its objective is to help as many people as possible find their purpose and manage their life in such a way as to enable them to manage their stress and anxiety and, in the process, find a place of calm and inner peace. It all starts from the inside, with a deep reflection of who we are and how we think, why we think the way we do and how to adjust our thinking to achieve better outcomes.

This is done with the help of their published books and numerous articles, video and audio interviews, conferences, twitterchats, posts and blogs as well as through specific videos, guided meditations, counselling and coaching and courses. These are all described on the website. Improve My World also has sites on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and there are numerous posts on Vernon Sankey’s LinkedIn account.

Upcoming Projects of Improve My World

Improve My World’s projects involve the development of the current site and its activities and the creation of a creative holistic site enabling people to access many different types of help and support for themselves and in order to create a better world.

  • For individuals this means access to courses, coaching, videos, guided meditations, meditations involving the senses and immersive experiences as well as access to professional, nutritional, psychological, neurological and psychographic third parties with whom we work and who we know, as well as specific tools and processes.
  • For corporates this means the same as the above on a collective and/or individual basis, dovetailed to the priorities of its vision and purpose.
  • For improving our world and, at the same time, enhancing the well-being of those attending our courses (individuals and corporates), access and contribution to philanthropic activities and projects of all kinds in different regions of the world, many supported by Improve My World and the companies it collaborates with.

 The Way: Finding Peace in Turbulent Times: Key Learnings 

  1. Humanity must change the way it thinks and acts if it is to survive. We are using bronze age thinking with post modern technology and, unless we raise our level of consciousness significantly and rapidly, prospects for our children and grandchildren, let alone for our species are very poor.
  2. We can do something about it, just as we can do something about all the problems facing us today, from climate change to pandemics to nuclear proliferation and cybercrime. It starts with the mind and an understanding of who we truly are. The solutions to our own anxiety and unhappiness, and the solutions to the world’s great challenges, all lie inside us, not outside as is popularly believed.
  3. Everything comes from the mind. Everything we perceive and all our issues are ‘man-made’, a reflection of our thinking, creations of our mind. So we have to understand how our mind works, why it works the way it does and what drives our decisions and behaviours.
  4. An understanding of conditioning and ego, beliefs and expectations, illusion and ‘reality’, preconception and prejudice, the concept of ‘time’, duality and Oneness, conditional and unconditional Love and many other fascinating elements that determine who we think we are (as opposed to who we really are.)
  5. How to change our thinking, the process and journey of personal transformation, the ‘way’ to inner peace and equanimity, from which better, kinder, more compassionate and wiser choices and decisions arise and are made. Nothing less than this transformation is needed for humanity to address the problems it has created for itself. The Way explains the process with ideas, examples and suggestions on how to achieve this transformation.

The Way also deals with The Universal Laws – laws of nature which are, for the most part, ‘immutable’ – that is to say that exist, whether we like it or not, and determine the way the world works. These date back many centuries and are to be found and are prevalent in many of the religious and spiritual beliefs of human beings since earliest times. Perhaps this can all be best summarized in the words of Albert Einstein, whose insights and wisdom transcend his scientific brilliance and illustrate his spiritual transformation and understanding of the teachings that we seek to explain in The Way and the Universal Laws that underpin them.

‘The scientist’s religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared to it, all the systematic thinking and acting of the human being is an utterly irrelevant reflection. This feeling is the guiding force behind his life and work insofar as he succeeds in freeing himself from the shackles of selfish desire. It is without question akin to that which possessed the religious sages of all time.’