Achim Nowak, Future Strong Hero, tells us why
Achim Nowak, Future Strong Hero
Founder and President, Influens
Author, The Moment: A Practical Guide to Creating a Mindful Life
in a Distracted World
Achim helps successful executives show up as their true selves
Future Strong Hero Series: Insights from top leaders, change
makers and thought leaders who are creating better, bolder tomorrows.
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How do you stay Future Strong? I no longer give a shit about what people
think I should be doing. The beauty of getting older is doing the work we
really want to do, not anybody else’s idea of what we should do. If we can
get clear on how we can best be of service, not trying to do everything,
then we can follow a path when we are living our right life, and being of
service in a way that’s meaningful. Getting older, I have less I need to
prove to myself. I know I can this and that… so what do I really want
to do? That’s my invitation to all of us.
How can we get there, too? Start by not pretending that you know yourself.
That’s a lie. Most of us, by our twenties, we’re running on survival
behavior. And we think that’s who we are. The people who do best on this
continue on some sort of spiritual journey. Because in that moment we get
to a place of humility and we realize that there are larger forces at play.
That’s incredibly liberating, and once we experience that we can be truly
In the late ‘80s, I went to a retreat center in Sedona, Arizona. The woman
who ran the place did some intense processes. At one point she looked at
all of us and said, “You’re the most stubborn group of people I’ve ever
met!” She put me on my bed. Blindfolded me. She made me go inside myself —
I couldn’t leave the bed. If I had to go to the bathroom, I’d raise my hand
and someone would take me. Three times a day, someone would bring me food.
Lots started going through my mind, resulting in two very powerful visions.
One was a message that I should write, and that’s how I became an author.
The other… I kept seeing an image of a white house on a tropical island,
on a mountain slope, overlooking the ocean. Six months later, I left
my life in New York, a good faculty job at NYU, and I moved into a little
white house on the small island of Tobago. I didn’t know what the heck
I was going to do there. That was my leap of faith. Whatever the message
was, I didn’t have to know what’s next.
All of us get those messages all the time, but they’re diluted because nobody
What do leaders need to do to build Future Strong companies? Leaders
must get comfortable with thinking small again. Everything doesn’t haven’t
to be standardized everywhere. Some processes should be standardized, but
please allow people to experiment. Allow people to surprise you.
The fear is always around the things you can’t control. I’m a believer in
forecasting and the necessity for it. But at the same time, the savior
for most everyone I coach is the ability to more deeply play with everyone
you work with, so you’re on a collective journey. You are not alone.
The paradox is that when you do that, you have a much better chance of
meeting targets. If we can collectively let go of this obsession with having
to know, better answers will show up.
I’m hired to help very senior executives become more human. Of course,
they’re already fully human, they’re just hiding that part of themselves.
When times get rougher, big companies want to put more and more processes
in place to control the roughness. Good process sets us free, but really pay
attention. Don’t try to control the uncontrollable.
• Let’s dance and play with each other, as we truly are
• Create a mindful life — you’ll be glad you did!
• Let go of the need to “know” — instead, explore and just be