Leading from the inside out – Mindful Leadership

 “There is an alternative to just leading from the top down. It’s leading from the inside out.” 

That’s what mindful leadership is all about. It’s about recognising that your leadership is in service to others. It’s about creating the space in your life to cultivate self-awareness and compassion, and leading with authenticity in a way that inspires others. By doing this, we can transform our own lives, our organisations, our communities – and the world.


Meet Natalia Cohen, our Mindful Leadership Retreat Facilitator this year:

How to cross your own personal Pacific with Mindful Leadership

Natalia was part of the first all-female team to row unsupported across the Pacific Ocean. With no rowing experience prior to applying, Natalia shows how, by being mindful and totally present in the moment, you can cross your own personal Pacific and achieve whatever you like in your life.

Together the crew completed this challenge in January 2016 setting two world records and gaining an international following. The team rowed in 2-hour shifts, 24 hours a day and the whole journey took a staggering 9 months. No stranger to embracing change and living in the moment, Natalia’s journey and life to date couldn’t be a truer example of this mantra.

We are very lucky to have Natalia co-hosting our Mindful Leadership Retreat this year. I caught up with her to find out about the lessons learned from her adventure and the recent Netflix documentary made about the team’s quest.

You were part of the first all-female team to row unsupported across the Pacific Ocean, can you explain to us what this experience was like? 

It was 9 months of every conceivable emotion – from indescribable peace and inexplicable happiness to sheer frustration. With nowhere to run or hide, we embraced the unknown in the most extreme way possible, whilst navigating the world’s largest Ocean.

The simplicity of our world out there made me question the reality of our ‘normal’ existence and interestingly, I have never endured such uncomfortable and often painful conditions or laughed so freely, openly and often in my life. I saw beauty for which there are no words and learnt the lessons of change, perseverance, and spirit from, what I believe to be, the best teacher – Mother Nature. The experience reminded me to be filled with love and compassion for the people around me, to respect the world we live in, to be grateful for what we have, and to enjoy the little things in life.

Although it’s good to have an end to journey toward, it is always the journey that matters in the end. 

What were the biggest challenges you faced out at sea? 

We faced exhaustion, sea sickness, sleep deprivation, confined spaces, salt and pressure wounds, monotony and had to fight to stay awake and alert at night times when there sometimes there was no moon or stars and only a thick, black darkness. 

We spent days moving backwards or moving painfully slowly. This led to the team feeling a lot of frustration and really having to dig deep to accept the moment and look for positives.

However, the beauty of our team was that by leading from the inside out and supporting each other as much as we could, we managed to keep pushing on through all the challenges that the ocean threw our way.

What key lessons do you hope people will take away from your journey and the subsequent documentary? 

The beautiful and intriguing part of my oceanic journey is that there are countless messages and insights that were highlighted. Some of the standout points for me on a personal level, however, are linked to the mind and to the strength of a team. There are so many elements to our lives that are out of our control, but the one thing we can always control is our reaction to challenges, having this mindful pause to choose how we react to situations.

We navigate the world using our own personal maps that have been created by our past conditioning and experiences. Our minds are an incredibly powerful tool, whatever you set your mind to you can achieve. It’s about developing that mental resilience and being mindful of your thoughts and behaviours.

It really is ALL in the mind! It is about having a courage to lead from the inside out. Only once you know yourself well and have developed that mindful attitude you can you be better placed to then support others. There is great power that comes from having a diverse and supportive team.

If the challenge seems overwhelming then break it down into manageable sized chunks and take it moment to moment or as we did, literally, stroke by stroke.

Also, very importantly and often above all else, don’t forget to celebrate small successes along the way and to enjoy the journey.

What is next for you?

I really look forward to running our Mindful Leadership Retreat in June and share my key messages, my story and my experience with the participants helping them to discover and navigate their ocean within.

I am really enjoying sharing the journey of the expedition and key insights gained with a range of audiences from primary school students to CEOs and at leadership conferences. I am also working one to one with individuals to help them cross their own ‘Pacific’ through coaching and mentoring.

Losing Sight of Shore is the name of our Netflix documentary that has been made and  the title is taken from a saying that has always resonated strongly with me. “You can never cross an ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”.

Mindful Leadership retreat with Natalia Cohen 28-29th June 2017. For more information on the Retreat please click below to read the brochure. For more information e-mail info@unicornenlight.com

Retreat Info June 17


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