It seems unlikely when you look around today. Actually, not just today, but any time in the last five millennia. However, I am still a dreamer who believes it certainly is possible, which gives life meaning. 

Especially if we don’t wait for others but take independent action. Not waiting for a redeemer but becoming our own redeemer. Everyone in their own world. With neighbours, colleagues, other road users, fellow citizens and fellow human beings.

A worldwide divergence is currently taking place. One that is inevitable and necessary. Two environments are being created. By those who choose ego, and those who choose (self)consciousness/spirit. These are two incompatible paths that were predicted long ago and are clearly illustrated on the Hopi stone that I visited with a guide in Arizona, the USA, in 2018. 

Ego-focussed environments, societies and organisations

Ego-focused environments, societies and organisations are typified by preferential treatment of some groups at the expense of others. Rich over poor, men above women, white above non-white, non-native above native, etc. 

Countries can even be in the grip of an extreme collective ego guided by their ego-driven leaders. They are typified by one of the eight ego-coup roles into which you can fall and remain one of which is the ruler, as I discuss in my book on Spirited Personal Leadership.

Ego as Ruler

In this case, a leader cares for his people, according to a ‘personal diktat.’ He does whatever it takes to be on top, because then he will have more power and influence. They put themselves above others, who must obey their will in order to meet their needs. To achieve this, they use a wide range of power resources, not just the aforementioned position of power. But strong powers of persuasion (which is sometimes expressed as literally screaming at ‘your people’), charisma, strategic traits (including lying) expertise or knowledge, income or status or networks can also be employed to impose their will on others.

If the people ‘under them’ are not obedient, they condemn them and try to get rid of them. The driving force is the fear that they, or their group, will be inadequate or enjoy less prestige. They consistently communicate this fear by means of threats issued to those who think differently. By intimidation. For instance, when the chairman of the board gives you hell, while it is not you but several incumbent administrators who are incompetent. Or threatening using displays of power – from threats of dismissal to military parades with nuclear missiles.

You make your allies dependent by giving preferential treatment and other privileges. For example, in the Corona policy that was enforced by a great many countries all over the world we saw preferred groups, and others who were free to kick the bucket. Vaccines first went to the rich, and then the poor.

If the ego of a leader or government wants to dominate even more, you expand your territory of personal authorities and have them – if possible – laid down in statutory provisions, sometimes even in the constitution. This enables you to accrue even more power. Just take a look at some of our current dictatorial government leaders. And it doesn’t stop there, because ideally they expand their territory in the literal sense and rob other people of their land in order to serve themselves and their preferential group. At the expense of others.

Deze meer spiritueel laag-ontwikkelde samenlevingen, regeringen en organisaties maken zich, ondanks of soms dankzij de invulling van hun religie, schuldig aan angst zaaien, macht uitoefenen, manipulatie, martelingen, (uit)moorden, stelselmatige indoctrinatie, verbergen en verdraaien van informatie of het geven van eenzijdige informatie.

But things can be different if ‘Inspired Leaders’ rule the world.

Spirited environments, societies and organisations

De spiritueel meer ontwikkelde samenlevingen worden gekenmerkt onder andere een oprechte en goedwerkende democratie waar daadwerkelijk geluisterd wordt naar álle stemmen. Waar geen geheimen leven en verborgen agenda’s zijn, maar volledige transparantie is.  Waar gelijke rechten gelden voor iedereen, zoals gelijke beloningen voor vrouwen en mannen. Waar alle groepen en landen in vrede naast elkaar en met elkaar leven en werken. Waar genoeg water, eten en huisvesting voor iedereen is en honger verbannen is. Waar de voedingsbodem van ons bestaan, de aarde, in ons doen en laten gerespecteerd wordt. Een utopie?

Current development of the world

Current development of the world In any case, right now the world is suffering a collective ego regression led by ego or ego-disturbed leaders who feed low ego societies. Current economic and political interests prevail above human dignity and equality. Even the United Nations, which should promote a peaceful world and care for everyone, displays a number of fundamental shortcomings. Injustice has even been given a seat at the UN. Just look at the UN human rights council, which refused to debate on the report on human rights violations in China. A report that had previously been concealed despite the proven use of systematic torture, detention and brainwashing amongst the Muslim Uyghur minority.

Every country that voted no or abstained contributes to this universal injustice. They lack the guts to choose universal justice. And this is simply due to the fear of sacrificing too much political, economic and personal capital, status and privilege. Consequently, fear and power are the dominant factors, not love of your fellow human beings. Qatar’s no vote, based on economic interests, clearly highlighted its own human rights abuses. But ok, football entertainment trumps everything. And we’ll soon all be enjoying watching the World Cup. For the record, I am a massive football fan, but this just isn’t right.

And injustice is ubiquitous. In my own country too. No different to other countries. The leadership in recent years has allowed the rich (mostly men) to get richer and the poor to get poorer, so now even food banks can no longer cope, on top of the immense growth of policy implemented on the basis of lies and egoism.

And as I already mentioned, some governments and leaders deliberately utilise control to impose a regime where torture, systematic murder and indoctrination are portrayed as normal and responsible. Sometimes even in the name of God, Allah or whoever. Because this gives you licence to do whatever you want. But what if your own child, father or mother is the one having their human rights contravened? What if the situation is reversed and you or your partner or relative are indoctrinated, tortured or killed? Tell me, what is the difference? A great deal from the ego, and nothing from the spirit. Because then we are all equal. All people with the same wishes, fears, pains and desires. There is no difference because at our core we are all equal.

“At our core we are all equal”

What injustice have you experienced? How did it feel? What if you were also let down by your own government or the UN? Or even tortured or killed? This is not how we’ll make a better world.

Then how?

Fortunately, there is also a natural development underway. New generations are increasingly intolerant of these unjust ego societies. Look at Iran. Patience is running thin with the reign of terror imposed by patriarchal white-man-power (fed by a distorted use of religion). It is just a matter of time. The fresh spirit-awareness of younger generations no longer accepts it, and the revolt is growing of its own accord. Simply because people’s hearts can no longer bear it.

It is also time for beloved leaders to cultivate a better world, as you can read in another article:

What can you do yourself?

Besides new leaders and the natural development of ego resistance, you can also make a personal contribution to a better world. You don’t have to wait for others. Dare to choose. Dare to be a dissident in your ego environments. Choose for or create a better world around you, however hard it may be. Are you aware of your own ego, soul and how (self)consciousness/spirit can enrich you? See yourself with new eyes and approach everyone around you in a truthful, sincere and peaceful way, even when you do not agree. Look at how you treat your family, neighbours, customers, team-members, board-members, shareholders, employees at work yourself. Thus creating a better world around you daily.

Or would you like to personally receive and experience the tools for a better world? Then this Master’s course could help:, it can also fundamentally promote a more effective, balanced, sustainable and dynamic working life and add meaning to your personal life.

A better world. Is that possible? Yes! If this all happens more there really could be a burgeoning paradise on earth in just a few decades. You can go for that instead of complaining and feeling victimised by a world you can’t stand. 

The choice is yours.

© 2022: Martin Thoolen #personalleadership #inspiredleadership #spiritedpersonalleadership #mastercoursespritedp[ersonalleadership #peace #peaceonearth #coaching #training #persoonlijkleiderschap #inspirerendleiderschap #mastercoursepersoonlijkinspirerendleiderschap #coaching #training #vrede #vredeopaarde

© 2022: Martin Thoolen

Why do we have wars?

Principally due to the influence of the incumbent world leaders.

No more war? High time for ‘Truly Beloved Leaders’.

Because the current leaders, who are fanning the flames of war, will not change fundamentally. But what exactly is going on, and what is needed to make a better world?

In my upcoming books and new `Masterclass Year’ on ‘Inspired leadership’ you can find answers, which I would like to start sharing with you now.

“Much of the evil in the world is due to the fact that man in general is hopelessly unconscious”

Carl Jung

From ‘ego leadership’ to ‘inspired leadership’

In broad terms, you can distinguish between two types of leaders: Ego Leaders and Inspired Leaders. To end wars, the leaders. themselves must change, and new leaders arise who are seen to be Inspired Leaders.

“The only thing that leads to war is ego”

Ego Leaders

Ego leaders are leaders who insidiously enact old-fashioned leadership styles based on their patriarchal ego. Every ego has various passengers that control your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. For instance, your inner pleaser, pusher or perfectionist. However, ego leaders frequently have a dominant inner patriarch who unconsciously takes the reins. They are steered by their inner patriarchand are usually unaware that this is happening. But if this ego passenger is too strongly represented it causes polarisation, division, conflict and war. But how?

The patriarchal ego leader

The patriarch is the paternal side of both male and female egos. It is the side that always positions itself above everyone, and women in particular (this can be a basic attitude, as shown by Leary’s Rose). Leary’s Rose illustrates that people can have different interactive attitudes, varying from above/below to opposed/together.

Ideally, this side really cares for the people that he feels responsible for. The patriarch uses his power resources appropriately in the best interests of the entire community that he leads, or thinks he leads. He rewards, punishes or ignores others in both tangible and intangible ways. The patriarch has a dominant bearing in thought or action – ‘his will is law; he decides and commands.’ He relies on knowledge being power and, when push comes to shove, he will display his power while concealing his vulnerable side. He can broadcast effectively, but has poor reception and listening skills. He minimises or dismisses criticism directed towards him, obstructing any effective action. He will also more readily accept something from a man, than a woman due to his covert belief in male superiority. When the patriarch does not get his way we often see a child of their ego suddenly throw a violent tantrum.

Extreme ego leadership

However, if leaders’ egos take on even more extreme forms this can lead to them falling into one of eight ego-coup roles, namely:

  1. Predator
  2. Wall
  3. Greedy child
  4. Chameleon
  5. Chest-beater
  6. Ruler
  7. Rat
  8. Beggar

When the inner patriarch in leaders takes on extreme forms we often see a combination of these roles, which control their thoughts, behaviour and choices. In any case, we see the ‘Ruler’ come more to the fore in their way of being.

Ego as Ruler

In this case, a leader cares for his people, according to a ‘personal diktat.’ He does whatever it takes to be on top, because then he will have more power and influence. They put themselves above others, who must obey their will in order to meet their needs. To achieve this, they use a wide range of power resources, not just the aforementioned position of power. But strong powers of persuasion (which is sometimes expressed as literally screaming at ‘your people’), charisma, strategic traits (including lying) expertise or knowledge, income or status or networks can also be employed to impose their will on others.

If the people ‘under them’ are not obedient, they condemn them and try to get rid of them. The driving force is the fear that they, or their group, will be inadequate or enjoy less prestige. They consistently communicate this fear by means of threats issued to those who think differently. By intimidation. For instance, when the chairman of the board gives you hell, while it is not you but several incumbent administrators who are incompetent. Or threatening using displays of power – from threats of dismissal to military parades with nuclear missiles.

“Every system or relationship that does not give space for the existence and unique expression of the soul, imprisons the soul”

You make your allies dependent by giving preferential treatment and other privileges. For example, in the Corona policy that was enforced by a great many countries all over the world we saw preferred groups, and others who were free to kick the bucket. Vaccines first went to the rich, and then the poor.

If your ego wants to dominate even more, you expand your territory of personal authorities and have them – if possible – laid down in statutory provisions, sometimes even in the constitution. This enables you to accrue even more power. Just take a look at some of our current dictatorial government leaders. And it doesn’t stop there, because ideally they expand their territory in the literal sense and rob other people of their land in order to serve themselves and their preferential group. At the expense of others.

This ego-based leadership style always reinforces polarisation and separation between people, nations and ethnic groups/peoples because a part of the group, which has not been listened to sufficiently, is excluded. A milder form is the emergence of protests, which ego-leaders have prompted with their own behaviour. For example, underpayment of care staff in the Netherlands, from citizens suspected of tax fraud who are ignored for years to farmers who are not actually being heard. We have seen this happen all over the world for centuries on a larger and more extreme scale.

But things can be different if ‘Inspired Leaders’ rule the world.

Inspired Leaders

Inspired Leaders are leaders who seek cooperation, connection and peace. They are aware of how their own ego and soul works, and how this affects their choices and behaviour. They are open to criticism, approachable and actually accept their own share of responsibility for their actions.

They are honest and speak freely, when the truth is under threat. They are truth-finders who reveal its essence. They see past the lies and disinformation used by rulers. They don’t judge when there are differences of opinion, but explore the underlying motivations on the basis of curiosity. They always seek respectful dialogue in order to build bridges.

These leaders want equality for everyone. Their policy is geared to equal rights for everyone. For example, voting rights, rewards, sufficient healthy food and drink, shelter, healthcare and education shared fairly for everyone. Any success and income that they enjoy is shared with their people. If you do this with some of the indigenous peoples in the USA, you receive a success feather because you have shared your success with the community.

These leaders motivate and empower their people. They create team spirit. People under them feel really seen, heard and supported. This is why these leaders are often so beloved by most of the population. Take a look back in history and you frequently hear the populace praise these leaders, even if they have been dead for a long time: Nelson Mandela (South Africa); Mahatma Ghandi (India); Dr. Martin Luther King (USA), King Rama IX Bhumibol Adulyadej (Thailand), Chief Dan George (BC, Canada) to name but a few.

Current leaders with an ego coup

If you look around the world today you can see that all the leaders of the following countries have this separating style of leadership: Russia, Brazil the Philippines, Turkey, Belarus, Syria, Venezuela, North Korea and China, to name but a few. They add to people’s pain and suffering with emotional, physical or intellectual captivity.

“If you do not change, you never can change society”

Nelson Mandela

Do you, as a leader and non-leader, want to contribute to a better world?
Are you a leader, administrator, director or executive? Or a department head, team leader or manager? Or a mother of a family? All these leaders can make a better world! And even if you are not a leader, you can contribute so many beautiful things to a better world, as you can read in my previous article on personal leadership:

In short, there at least three ways prevent war and restore peace:

  1. Current leaders evolve into Inspired Leaders
  2. Training new leaders to be Inspired Leaders
  3. Developing personal leadership (see:

Imagine what will happen when your (personal or collective) leadership is lifted to a higher level. Your input will be regarded as even more useful and fulfilling by you and ‘your’ people. As a leader you will contribute even more to the community. Most people will start to see you as a ‘popular leader.’ You will also be able to deal with the contradictory interests of parties that you are involved with even more effectively and diplomatically. Your leadership evolves from ego-leadership to inspired leadership.

But how will your leadership be most effective?How do you maximise the potential and enjoyment of your people? And how do you make a personal contribution to a better world?

A personal contribution to a better world?

As a leader and non-leader, you can do and develop so much to boost your contribution to a better world. And it also gives your life more meaning.

In everything you do, check whether your ego is dominant. Do you sincerely approach people from a place of positivity, curiosity, neutrality, honesty and connection?

Would you like to dig deeper and enrich yourself with a valuable contribution to your work and life? Then I am currently offering four (and five in 2023) services that can inspire you as a leader:

  1. Professional one-on-one-Coaching (
  2. Customised workshops with your management team or Board(
  3. Development and implementation of an in-company ‘Inspired Leadership’ course (
  4. Inspiration from books, blogs, articles, videos and podcasts on inspired leadership on the inspiration page of this website (
  5. Participation in a year-long Masterclass Year: ‘Inspired Leadership’, with open registration (from 2023). Check the website regularly for updates.

Would you like to know more? or app, call or e-mail me, and I will reply as soon as possible.

Thank you for reading this article and I hope that we can make a more beautiful world together!

Warmest regards,  


#nowar #peace #leadership #leadershipdevelopment #Executivecoaching

© 2022: Martin Thoolen

A better 2022?

Is that possible? For me too?

You might not believe it. Because we are all going through ‘heavy weather’. And there are clear signs that things will deteriorate in 2022. 

Nevertheless, it is possible! A better 2022 for you!

2021: ‘Heavy weather’ caused by leaders

Not just the pandemic, but above all the manner in which many world leaders behave and make choices is creating a profound sense of foreboding. The majority are acting on the basis of national egoism and narcissism, which limits our freedom to live. National governments are systematically ineffectual and lack good leadership, private dramas play out behind closed doors (whether they are within families or amongst neighbours) and loved ones are lost due to Corona. Polarisation, grief and aggression rule the day.

What will the weather be like in 2022? 

I can't make it better than it is, but it will get even worse in 2022. I like to shed some light on that inconvenient truth as well. Why worse?

Due to at least four current developments:

Where leaders consistently go wrong

The fact that the truth is becoming increasingly apparent threatens the positions of many leaders. They will do anything to retain and expand their power instead of truly representing the people. The consequence – ego strategies that guarantee personal interests or those of a political party become the driving force – denial, lies, character assassination and personal attacks. Unfortunately, in recent years we have witnessed this to an extreme degree in the political debates in our government (the upper and lower chamber), where a great many politicians constantly allow their egos to rampage. How? 

By stigmatising each other and launching personal attacks, permitting personal or party interests to prevail over everything else, lying as a matter of course, systematically failing to fulfil agreements, not putting words into practice (For example, the phrase ‘New Leadership’, which is a hollow concept), slandering opponents, failing to listen to the people, acting in a socially desirable manner on the basis of personal interest rather than sincerity, refusing to accept responsibility and step down when policies are ineffective in the long term and making extreme statements that shock or offend other population groups. Mutual respect is nowhere to be found and courtesy has abandoned the chambers of power and politics. ‘Courtesy has abandoned the chambers of power’

‘Courtesy has abandoned the chambers of power’

Despite the incumbent leaders’ anxious efforts to maintain their ‘false ego construction’, the light of truth will penetrate sooner or later. Or as my mother used to say, ‘honesty lasts longest’. So old power structures start to evaporate. You can see this in the fact that the old party systems, with 3 to 6 parties, no longer endure and there are now significantly more political parties, further highlighting the division.

The fact that the cabinet formation stands on an energetic foundation of lies, dishonesty and personal interest means that it can absolutely never function effectively. It lacks any credibility, and trust in the leaders has melted ‘like snow in the sun’ for the umpteenth time. 

I therefore predict that if, nevertheless, a new cabinet is formed in 2022 on the basis of the latest election results the government will more likely have to deal with far more civil unrest or, worse still, a civil war than it will contribute to peace and unity. Besides this, we, as a people, need a vision and strategy that will genuinely be enacted by the leadership. The current administration has proven over many years that it lacks competence for this, which consistently amplifies the cry for new leaders. A re-election, as a current snapshot, is necessary for peace in the country.

However, I suspect that the egos of politicians and political parties will briefly prevail and evoke the old familiarity, security and false sense of peace in order to quickly pick up where they left off with the old crew. A temporary pyrrhic victory for the old politicians, after which the true nature of the administrators will dominate, guide decisions and further exacerbate polarisation.

Our leaders will, therefore, not make things easy for you in 2022. But 2022 can still be a better year for you if you enact in your own life and work what ‘our’ leaders have, to date, systematically omitted.

‘It will be a better year for you if you enact in your own life and work what ‘our’ leaders have, to date, systematically omitted.’

Sick of missing good leadership by the government? 

Assume leadership of your own life! There are always situations that can make you upset But if they occur in rapid succession it can make you really sick. Before you know it you lose yourself, unnoticed, in constant complaining. And that doesn’t usually make you feel any better. Don’t wait for the leaders but develop your own leadership and don’t allow your well-being to depend on them.

Don’t wait for the leaders, but develop your own leadership and don’t allow your well-being to depend on them’

Take control!

When leaders fail to lead, complaining and your own anger or feeling of victimhood can easily start to control you. What is it that leaders apparently lack that you themselves can contribute to your own environment? Every day!

How do I achieve self-leadership?

1) Listen to each other sincerely instead of in a way that is socially desirable

Today’s politicians and leaders are apparently largely incapable of doing this. Why? Their personality. Their ego is the primary reason.

You would almost think – look for a job elsewhere – especially when considering the administrators and leaders dominated by ego and narcissism (usually without them realising that this is the case). If they listen, it is usually in a socially desirable manner in order to see their personal interests served. Along the lines of ‘If I agree, if I say that you are right, then you will shut up again for a while and I can continue with my own plans.’ What other listening skills can you expect? If you are lucky, administrators hear opposing arguments from the public regarding the implemented policy, and then take little or no action or intervene far too late. In short, the leadership does not really listen to the people.

I will mention several well-known facts that highlight how administrators have partially or completely failed to listen to the people over the years: the dividend scandal, the nitrogen scandal, the allowance scandal, the extraction of natural gas in Groningen, the Corona policy, the housing shortage, etc. How many scandals can they cause before they are shown the door? The misplaced inviolability of incompetent leaders let them stay longer than is good for an organisation or country. I wish for this to change worldwide and fire those leaders for structural mismanagement by an independent ethical Commission.

Research has revealed that the behaviour of leaders and administrators who occupy formal positions of power functions as a living example for the public. And this has an enormous influence. So, when our leaders do not listen to the people they set an example of non-listening Why then, should the people listen to the leaders? Years of egocentric behaviour on the part of administrators and the lack of real listening means that the people no longer listen to the government and make their own choices. 

Moreover, administrators ignoring the people often works as a punishment in terms of behavioural psychology, further exacerbating polarisation. ‘When leaders ignore citizens, they contribute to the unnecessary polarisation and violence in the country’.

‘When leaders ignore citizens, they contribute to the unnecessary polarisation and violence in the country’

2) Explore beyond personal attacks and undesired behaviour

Watch how our leaders actually talk to each other and the public. And if the people (understandably) don’t listen for once and riots break out, should they be punished, but not our leaders?

And please don’t misunderstand me. People who threaten and attack care workers are beyond the pale. This must be stopped and more heavily punished. And you can certainly condemn it as indecent, criminal and totally unacceptable. But don’t become stuck in these ego stigmas. Dig deeper!

What our leaders so blatantly fail to do is realise that they have operated outside the bounds of honesty for many years, to name just one example.

What our leaders omit is beyond condemnation as indecent – they lack the curiosity to examine the motives behind why people are becoming more aggressive and divided. They neglect to look, to accept and take the subject seriously, and above all to recognise their own contribution. 

The prevailing cooperation/conflict style (according to the Thomas-Kilman conflict model) actually displayed by the majority of leaders in their behaviour and choices involves priotising personal interest, giving in to others if you don’t have much to lose, avoidance and delays or seeking compromises However, the cooperation style that every good leader must master and apply more often is the exploration of everyone’s interests and arguments in order to genuinely cooperate in the search for a desirable outcome for all parties.

3) Control aggression and treat others with respect

When the ego dominates you identify, for example, with your own interests, arguments and viewpoints. When people, therefore also leaders, feel that they are under threat they can become extremely angry or feel wronged. Similar to when your child is not given the sweets that they wanted at the supermarket. And this negative energy is becoming more and more apparent in the voices of politicians. The ‘other’ is increasingly designated as an enemy instead of a friend. Just look at the political debates. They are quite different to 30 years ago – aggressive language, a hostile tone of voice, personal attacks, slander campaigns, etc… Deploying these verbal and media weapons only creates more division instead of the desired connection, peace and commonality. 

How do we rid ourselves of polarisation and aggression?

Maybe the answer lies in the tragic incident in which the actor Alec Baldwin accidentally shot his camera woman dead in the Autumn of 2021. Cinematic and real violence had never been so closely intertwined. Just like in first-person-shooter video games, where killing someone you don’t like is ‘normalised’. So why not just stab your neighbour or your spouse if they don’t do what you want? There have never been as many stabbings or shootings in the Netherlands as in the last few years.

What happened on that film set was incredibly painful and tragic at the ego and soul level. But at a higher level (spirit or universal consciousness) it demonstrates that this type of ‘shooter’ film only feeds the arms trade and boosts sales of murder games. And do you want to contribute to a world like that? To a world of more violence and aggression? Whether with physical or verbal weapons?

The solution is to themselves personally let go of both physical and verbal weaponry. Because aggression feeds on itself. Just take a look at traffic on the roads. No difference.

The solution – a respectful approach

You can make a better 2022 if you do what our leaders have failed to do so far. The solution is obvious, because it is the opposite of aggression and anger (fed by our own ego). Simply love and all its variations, which lead to a better life together. 

‘You can make a better 2022 if you do what our leaders have failed to do so far’

Practical Personal Leadership TIPS 

Even if you meet people who you find difficult, who you are allergic to or who you see as an enemy. Whether it is someone else in traffic, your child wanting to buy a coat that is much too expensive, a colleague who is tremendously irritating or your partner who seems to be ever-present during the Corona pandemic.

Be aware of your ego tendency to want to be right and approach other people in a new way. Just see what happens! How?

Every one of us, our leaders, but also you, have a choice in this.Every day, every minute, wherever you are!

Then you can show how you re a new leader of your own life. Because no weapon, including hurtful words, can withstand real love.

'No weapon, including hurtful words, can withstand real love’

Then you set an alternative example. And not only that. Even with the emotional storms that currently rage around us and all of the terrible things you must deal with, everything becomes lighter and more bearable with love. Like a balm for the soul. Even if you know, for example, that a close family member will die of Corona or something else – with love it becomes more bearable, more special and in a certain way more beautiful and heart-warming.

‘The most terrible thing can be borne with love’

New Year wish – a better 2022 for you, for our leaders and for everyone

My wish for you and everyone is a lighter 2022 for you and for you to create more light in your immediate surroundings. If you don’t, you will be doing the same as most leaders in the last year. A case of the pot calling the kettle black. With the consequence being more division, more aggression and a sea of unhappiness.

The choice is yours. Every day, every minute, with everyone.

If you do choose this path, 2022 really will be a better year for you!

I wish you a wonderful, loving, heart-warming and connecting 2022!

Martin Thoolen

In 2022, you will see my new inspirations in relation to leadership and personal leadership. Stay tuned and check my website now and then:

#newyear #leadership #professionalcoaching #coaching #businesscoaching #conflictmanagement © 2022: Martin Thoolen

© 2022: Martin Thoolen

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making darkness conscious”.

(C.G. Jung)

This article is an invitation to shed some light on our own shadow-sides as a coach or facilitator. If we have the courage to explore this within ourselves, our facilitation craft and impact on customer will increase for the better.

Treasures in the shadow

Talents, competences and sides that live in the shadow of our ego are known as ‘treasures in the shadow’. For example, there are ego sides, such as the instinctive, manipulative or patriarchal side. These are sides that we may prefer not to have and that we easily condemn in others. For instance, it is difficult to remain neutral towards an angry client if we do not know or even acknowledge our own anger. Before you know it, you are thinking: ok, losing your job is really tough, but they don’t have to scream like this? Or imagine that you are a coach who really hates manipulation and regards integrity as paramount. You will experience a customer who always presents soppy excuses for why he never carries out his assignments as a major challenge.

But there is also treasure buried within our soul. We love passion and drive, but we prefer to avoid spiritual pain. Because who wants pain? So we push it away (unnoticed). And at a certain point you no longer even know that it exists. Until the calling of our soul becomes louder and incessant. Career coach John started to feel increasingly irritated by clients telling him about their trip around the world in great detail. ‘I would like to do that, but I cannot just leave my work. And my work is fantastic.’ And then I had a client telling me about their fantastic world trip for the third time. “What riches, wonderful”, said John to the client. But there was a storm raging within John that would not abate. After three mirrors presented by clients he could no longer repress his intense desire for new adventures. He shared this desire at his place of work and six months later the time arrived – three months unpaid leave in America.

Why do we not use a part of our strength?

We are ashamed of our shadow sides, we are afraid of them or are just ignorant of their existence. For example, we don’t want to gain a reputation as a coach who is angry or dominant. Wouldn’t that be a direct threat to our image? Our ego prefers to receive appreciation or approval. It wants to belong and be found special. So we bury anger or dominance and, unfortunately, also fail to utilise their strength. We do not dare to set boundaries, say valuable but unpopular things or take sufficient space. That is a shame! In my first book  'Wealth for free!' you'll see how these motivators can hold you captive and how you can release the wealth in these hidden treasures in more detail.Imagine that you frequently run fifteen minutes over time with your clients. ´Why do I do that actually?´, you may ask yourself. ‘Otherwise they might think that I watch the clock and they might like me less.’ The next reflection may be: What would be so bad about that? ‘Then they might take me less seriously, they may prefer to go to a different coach who gives more time and attention. And who would I be if clients can find me nice and less nice? Well, actually I find it more important that my process is really useful to them, not whether they like me.’ Then you no longer have to fish for appreciation from your client. That creates clarity and air, and saves you time.

And then something about soul pain. This is often absolutely not the favourite subject of career coaches. We are afraid of facing our own, deep wounds, think that the pit is too deep or fear that the pit is only filled with misery. So we prefer to keep a lid on it and lose contact with our vulnerability. Precisely while we want to coach our clients with heart and soul, and devote attention to strength and and vulnerability. Janet told her coach, Joy, with absolute conviction: ”It is nothing for me, this job, I just don’t belong in an office.” She had been a senior consultant for many years, her colleagues were happy with her, but she drove home with an increasingly empty gaze. Her soul longed for something else. To which Joy said: “It’s nice that they are so satisfied with you, maybe it is temporary and you can change something in your work.” Janet exploded: “I said that I am totally sick of it! You are like my partner, he tries to minimise it as well.” What was going on here? In a coaching session with us Joy discovered what was eating at her: she had to accept an increasing work load and space for creativity was decreasing. She was unable to coach her client effectively because Joy suppressed her own dissatisfaction, precisely as her client expressed dissatisfaction. You can coach your client as far as to where you are, so there is every reason to occasionally take a look at your own soul pain.

Shadow sides as gifts to ourselves and our clients

If we coaches shine a light on our shadow side we release new strength, energy and talents for ourselves. And with this we also give our clients a chance to transform their shadow sides.

Light on ego

If we know our strategic side it is easier for us to coach clients in relation to strategic choices. Integrity was paramount for coach John. He was averse to manipulation and he thought that strategy was a dirty word. Until he discovered that he also occasionally used manipulations such as small lies in order to prompt a positive outcome. Or that he would flatter people in order to get something done. He looked right into his own shadow with blushing cheeks. After acknowledging this he moderated his judgement and saw that strategy can help you to achieve your goals. When a HRM manager asked him whether his coachee was suitable for his job he realised that he was being manipulated and was able to calmly reply: ”I cannot give you any information about that.” You also dare to occupy more space and your judgement of self-promoters is far less harsh when you integrate your patriarchal side. And when we have given our anger a space we are better able to understand it and coach it in clients.

In a world where performance and success are paramount a great many people seek healing in mindfulness, yoga or meditation. If that or something else helps, that is fantastic. And how wonderful would it be if we coaches give the being side dagelijks more space every day. Then there is a healthy balance between effort and relaxation and we stay healthy. And if we also use our being side more, in addition to the performance side, our interventions are more effective.

Career coach Angelique wants to get results fast in a maximum of four coaching sessions and deliver top quality. She is frequently impatient if clients do not hurry up. For example, she said to client Peter: “Great, two network meetings, but I think that you could have done five in the last two weeks.” Peter increasingly feels that he is not doing it right and his self confidence decreases. During our coaching sessions Angelique discovers that she is too pushy and that she is unwittingly discouraging Peter. When she used her being sideshe could be a little more relaxed, and this prompted Peter to act independently. Networking became a piece of cake.

Light on soul

“If you know the sound of your soul you can also hear the sound of your client’s soul”

we allow our soul to cry once in a while, we automatically give our clients permission to do the same. Soul recognition of your client can bring enormous relief and release new energy, whether a client has been bullied, has never really dared to pursue their desire or has always felt ignored. Like Enzo, a sad figure. His father was addicted to alcohol, his parents had divorced when he was six and he felt ignored by his father. He had suppressed the pain that this caused for years. When he turned forty he realised that he looked for the appreciation that he had not received from his father from his colleagues and manager. Begging for that appreciation he worked a lot of overtime, was always ready to help others and was temporarily happy with compliments. But the secret desire for appreciation kept rearing its head. When Enzo fully accepted this, the tears flowed and the healing came. Now he could start to see himself more, appreciate himself more and make career choices based on his own compass.

Tips for treasure seekers

In short

See if you can regularly turn towards instead of against the shadow sides of your ego and soul. Accept the temporary discomfort and treat yourself and your client to the strength, energy and talents of shadow sides. Not only you, but also your clients will experience new wealth. What a gift!


Martin J.M. Thoolen MSc. and Wendy Y. Hobbelink MSc.
Originally published in Career Vision (DutchMagazine, August 2016)


You need ego to set limits effectively, but it also can facilitation as a coach or trainer. The magic of true connection and unlimited potential. is to be found beyond your ego as a facilitator. Do you need to set boundaries with your client? When do limits help or block you? Do you really want to inspire and move your customer? Discover a neverending potential that opens up a new world for you and your customer.

Gezonde grenzen heb je nodig om als begeleider optimaal werk te leveren. Wat gebeurt er als je geen grenzen stelt? Dan geef je ongemerkt meer dan je eigenlijk wilt of goed voor je is. Je kunt dan bakken energie verliezen en ‘s avonds jezelf zomaar lusteloos op de bank aantreffen. Heldere grenzen betekent dat je oog hebt en houdt voor je eigen energiehuishouding. Dat je grenzen stelt aan  intense,  langdurige  inspanning  en  zorgt  voor  voldoende ontspanning, afwisseling, reflectie en inspiratie.

Je neemt bijvoorbeeld pauze-momenten tussen gesprekken, zodat je het vorige gesprek loslaat, even aanrommelt en je voorbereidt op een volgende afspraak. Juist in ‘rommeltijd’ laad je je batterij op, waarna je weer met volle aandacht aanwezig bent bij je volgende activiteit. Grenzen zijn ook nodig om niet te verzanden in een positief of negatief bondje met je klant of opdrachtgever. Anders  worden  je  houding  en  interventies  veelal  gekleurd  door  voor-  en  afkeur.  Als  je  als  begeleider  door hebt  dat  je  bijvoorbeeld  smult  van  complimenten  of baalt  van  kritiek,  glimlach  dan  in  jezelf  en  bewaak  je neutraliteit. Dan behoud je je helderheid en compassie- volle confrontatiekracht.

A healthy portion of ego enables you to manage your time, take good care of your personal energy and maintain appropriate distance. You have to live your entire life with yourself, so create clear boundaries.

Boundaries as a prison

However, if your ego takes over, excessively stringent boundaries can become concrete walls that obstruct real contact with your customers. A dominant ego can also mean that you secretly feel slightly superior to your customer. You then approach them on the basis of identification with your expertise, experience and qualifications and take a (slightly) superior attitude to your customers. You think you know what is good for them. Before you know it your customer will be following a course set by your compass, while your wish is for them to learn to use their own compass.

An ego coup can also be created when you become trapped in judgments and stories about your customer, such as ‘my customer is so slow, he is so inside his own head’. You start the next discussion in a positive mood but still find proof of your own stories again. Your irritation grows and you allow yourself to be restricted by judgments and stories in your own head. So who is in his head now?

It happens to the best facilitators once in a while. If your ego takes the lead unnoticed you become mentally restricted and put yourself in a prison of your own making. The key is hanging on the inside of the door, but you just cannot see it. This requires a dialogue with your ego. Otherwise your ego will conduct a monologue with you.

Beyond the boundaries of the ego: new land in sight

If you are not aware of your own ego while you facilitate you will remain superficial with your customer, while your customer may benefit more from deepening. Fortunately, we are more than just a collection of ego patterns. Besides ego, we recognise two other dimensions that can enrich you and your customers.

Passionate facilitation: the magic of true connection

If you really want to reach your customers, so that their motivation comes from within, something else is required from us as facilitators. Beyond the boundaries of the ego you can discover the land of the soul. Every soul, so also your customer’s, wants a right to exist. If you acknowledge your own soul, with feelings, talents, strength and vulnerability, then your customer will also feel permitted to experience this in themselves. You create an energy field, as it were, with space for deepening, authenticity and amazement in which customers are more willing to share their heart and soul and the effect of your facilitation will be deepening and long-lasting.

Soul passion

How can you make more room for passion? Study what really gives your customer enjoyment and energy, what their original talents are and what they are ‘just good at’. For example, a purchasing manager was given the opportunity to temporarily replace a senior purchaser. She fervently brought in major customers and signed important contracts, and her manager promised her a promotion. When her colleague returned she had to move back to her former position, was not promoted and felt very despondent. With a passionate vision as a compass she looked beyond the borders of her organization and found an appropriate job as a purchaser at a different company. Within a year she was promoted, became manager of a number of countries in Europe and, moreover, won a prize as the best purchaser.

Soul pain

Room for the soul means that you also devote attention to hidden pain. This is not the same as giving well intentioned advice to motivate your customer while you skim over the pain. It can really hurt to lose your job or project, even though people may not always show it. In addition, new loss can touch old loss. Pay attention to emotions and thoughts, introduce silences and give sincere emotional reflections that make your customer feel validated and that you can share their emotional life. Occasionally share something of your own vulnerability, which lowers the threshold for your customer to do the same. Give old pain the opportunity to evaporate, so that new energy can be released. Your customer will then start to move on the basis on an inner desire.

Beyond the boundaries of ego and soul: utilizing infinite potential

However valuable ego and passion are, there is nevertheless a snag. Just as your ego can take the upper hand, you can also get wrapped up in your own passion. For example, if you enthusiastically use a method to work with your customer, but this is not working for them, you are forgetting to distinguish between person and method.
There is a third dimension that can provide a world of new possibilities. We call this spirit or clear perception. You see yourself at a distance, as it were, which enables you to detect whether your ego is dominant or you are wrapped up in passion at an earlier stage. Facilitation based on this dimension is clear, free of value judgments and compassionate. You are using a different resource, which creates new perspectives, experiences and choices.

Here and now

If spirit participates in your facilitation, you are clearly present in the here and now. This means that you do not think about what has happened or will happen on that day. So you may have an idea or a plan for your customer, but can deviate from it if something else is needed in the here and now. For example, your customer says that he knows what he wants, while your intuition tells you that this may not be the case. By clearly taking your own signals seriously you invite your customer to study what he actually wants in reality.

Awareness of surroundings

Imagine that you are an astronaut in space, looking at the earth. Borders soon fade, and you soon see the big picture. If you, as a facilitator, look ‘from space’ then you see your customer beyond the boundary, as a separate individual. With an astronaut’s eye view you study what contribution your customer wants to make to the process as a whole. For some this is a contribution to a team or organization, and for others it is a sustainable world. As a facilitator, you also not only pay attention to their (desired) work situation, but also to its effect on the home front or on the surroundings.

Everything connected to everything

Spirit is a dimension that has no boundaries. Then you realize that there is essentially no difference between you and the customer. As the Mayas greeted each other withInlakeshOr: ‘you are another me, I am another you’. Everything that you see or experience in the customer is also partially in you. As soon as you realize this you approach the customer from a position of equality, compassion and respect.

Based on the idea that everything is connected to everything you encourage your customer to be alert to parallel events that may be significant. When a consultant said that it really was time to find a job outside his organisation there was suddenly a window cleaner washing the dirty windows of his study.

If everything is connected to everything there may also be fewer borders between our daytime and ‘dream life’ than we sometimes assume. A manager was well known as someone who could be a bull in a china shop. He shared a dream about soft pink roses, which he found strange at first. By sketching the flowers he discovered that, besides his strength, it was time to give his vulnerability more space. A few days later a sudden gust of wind showered him with pink flower petals as he was crossing a square. He was touched. Softness had literally ‘blown’ over him, and had also touched him inside. With a clear, open view you can facilitate with space for surprise and amazement. You are, in fact, utilizing a different resource (spirit), which enables you to spontaneously gain insights and see new relationships on the basis of connection. Your intervention strength expands. You create a space for your customer in which they can gain fresh insights, have fascinating experiences and take new, clear choices.

Expanding your own boundaries

Pioneering facilitation is something that you can easily find within yourself. We believe that it originates when you plug into the riches of your ego, soul and clear perception. When you are aware of these dimensions you create an energy field in which your customers can (re)discover their own answers. Check what resource you are using from time to time. Use your ego for purposes including setting healthy boundaries. Check whether your ego is taking over once in a while. For example, if you feel superior or inferior, invent stories about your customer or repress vulnerability. Make space for the soul by acknowledging individuality, soul passion or pain. Observe yourself regularly using the astronaut’s eye view, so that you can channel your ego and give your soul some space. Give your customer your sincere attention, compassion and attention to the here and now.

Give yourself a regular inner update. Then you broaden your own horizons and a gradual shift starts towards more depth, authenticity and real connection with your customers. If you perform your work as a facilitator with a controlled ego and on the basis of passion and clear perception you are contributing to a world that has a place not only for ego, but also for authenticity and real connection.

© 2014 Martin Thoolen & Wendy Hobbelink
Verschenen in: Loopbaan Visie (Januari 2014)