Leadership back to its’ core: The first of the Seven Hermetic Principles

20171019_Henri Nestlé

Nestlé’s founder, German-born pharmacist Henri Nestlé, launches his ‘farine lactée’ [Photo credit: Nestlé S.A.]

Executive leaders are struggling. The world is breaking open[1] on all different levels. When we look at what is happening in the structures we are used to, whether it is the company we work in, the country we live in, on a global scale, or in our private lives, change is happening on every level. Moreover, this change is not going to stop until the message that wants to come through is heard. Until the pain and sorrow the world is suffering from, is healed. The world is evolving. One of my favourite quotes is this one, describing a different perspective on where we are in the world right now:

For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who does not understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.
—Cynthia Occelli, author

The volatile, uncertain, chaotic and ambiguous world where we find ourselves is a world nobody can close his or her eyes from. As it vibrates on every level. It took me back to the Seven Hermetic Principles. The answer in how to show true leadership in our vuca world might be there. This is the first of seven explorations of the way we are doing business and how we might use universal laws in our advantage. We might be able to navigate our leadership better when becoming more familiar with them.

The Seven Hermetic Principles’ are ancient writings, bundled in The Kybalion, by Hermes Trismegistus[2]. The first principle is the principle of Mentalism, in which is stated:

“The All is mind; the universe is mental” – The Kybalion.

It is the greatest of all seven laws and shows us that our manifestation on earth, the physical, tangible world we live in, is a manifestation of the mind. All that has ever been thought of by people, creates the world we find ourselves in right now. The phenomenal world is simply a mental creation and spirit lives in every single creation of our phenomenal world. It is a two way street. It brings us to the fact that whatever we create in our minds, either conscious or subconscious manifests through time. In short: Whatever you give attention to, grows. And this growth is, whether we are aware of that or not, on three planes: the mental, physical and spiritual.

Knowing this, how can we use it in our daily business? What is the invitation to the leaders of today? From this perspective, it is essential to act from an intentional place of creating value for everybody you connect with. Not just for you, your company, its’ stakeholders and employees, but on an even larger scale: for society, for the planet. Leaders have the possibility to give direction to large groups of people in a positive way. In politics as well as in business. Setting the intention to work from a place of bringing growth. Not just for shareholders, but for their employees as well as for the communities linked to them in the complete value chain, from source to consumer.

Nestlé is a great example for this. The company has this already centered in its DNA, Nestlé calls this Creating Shared Value. Values rooted in respect, they work alongside partners to create shared value – contributing to society while ensuring the long-term success of their business. It is embedded in everything they do. It is the companies fundamental belief that the business will be successful in the long term by creating shared value for both its’ shareholders and for society as a whole. What it creates for the worlds’ largest food company, is to work in a playing field that is always rooted in respect. Respect for the people they work with, for whom they engage with and therewith taking integrity as a central point.

This important basis, the companies DNA, surprised me in a positive way when I started working as an interim in their Dutch corporate communications department. Nestlé is a company that is open to learn, embrace challenges and keeps on working from a place of choice and opportunity. Embracing challenges while not being afraid to be with the not knowing, the uncomfortable, gives clarity underneath the drama and facts. It takes you back to the intentional place of creating shared value over and over again.

Now going back to the first Hermetic Principle of Mentalism, Nestlé’s raison d’être, her reason of existence, was founded 150 years ago by Henri Nestlé. He was a pioneer and an entrepreneur, motivated by the challenges and the needs of the society he was living in. He invented farine lactée and saved the life of a child. His mission was to reduce the high mortality rate amongst children due to hunger. Today, a century and a half later, this vision and pioneering spirit still define the companies’ impact area Individuals and families, in which they are committed to helping 50 million children lead healthier lives, as well its’ purpose: Nestlé. Enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future. 344.000 people all over the world, are working on a daily basis to contribute to their purpose with this intention. With the intention to create shared value.

When we make ourselves go back there every time with intention, we find ourselves manifesting a world that allows growth in a positive way and that is exactly what leaders are asked to do in these challenging times. It means telling stories of the good things happening, although there is a lot of criticism. It opens up a dialogue with people. It means showing vulnerability and honesty, the fact that the company is on a journey, just like we all are. Allowing ourselves to make mistakes, as ‘perfect’ does not exist. It means becoming aware of what you are creating while thinking. Just that. Become aware of what you create while thinking. What you are creating while giving attention to something. Thoughts build things, a tangible world. The secret of growth is rooted in stepping forward with intention from a place of integrity. It comes from a pure place. That is the first thing leaders should become aware of.

[1] Alan Seale, Center for Transformational Presence, http://www.transformationalpresencebook.com

[2] Hermes Trismegistus (three times Great) is a representation of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth, bringing astrology, alchemy and theurgy together. His ancient writings were first published in 1908 by the Yogi Publication Society. 


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