Developing the sustainability mindset: How do we connect to our authentic selves?

"Legacy is not what remains when we die, but what we’re creating every day." - Isabel Rimanoczy

“So much of our culture gives lower value to compassion, to nurturing, to caring”. – Isabel Rimanoczy

Isabel Rimanoczy has worn many hats over the years, from psychotherapist to director of a women’s empowerment organisation, yet the core of her work is always the same: helping people to connect with their authentic selves and to live according to their higher values, actions that lead to the deepest kind of happiness.

Isabel began as a psychologist in her home country of Argentina, but after realising how many people were already in that field, she decided to use her knowledge of human behaviour to start a consulting firm that helped businesses recruit and hire employees. From there, she transitioned into business coaching at a time when “coaching” was still an unfamiliar concept. After moving to the US, she continued to work as a coach for corporate clients.

One day in 2003, Isabel had a revelation that would lead to her biggest career transition yet. She was at a training session at the consulting firm where she worked and took part in an exercise called the Amazing Achievement Award. Participants had half an hour to dream up an acceptance speech for an award they would receive seven years in the future. At first, Isabel was excited to do the activity, but as she began to brainstorm, she found herself stumped by the following questions: “Why did I get this prize? Why would anyone give me a prize?” She remembered, “In 15 minutes I had this existential crisis where I realised that I was living a very happy life, but nothing was so meaningful that it would deserve an award. And when I say meaningful, I mean meaningful for others, not just for my own satisfaction.”

In a rush to finish the exercise, Isabel decided to list her various talents and then brainstorm how she could “put them to good use.” An idea began to form in her mind: “What if I coached people in corporations who are very influential, and because of the coaching, they go and do things that are good for the world?” She commented, “It was like throwing an anchor far away. I’m not a person who does a lot of planning, but somehow that stuck in the back of my mind.” Thanks to this experience, Isabel returned to academia to pursue a doctorate and began to develop the concept of “Legacy Coaching.” As a coach, she supports “change accelerators” who want to make a difference, not just in the immediate present or after their deaths, but every day of their working lives.

In addition to developing Legacy Coaching, Isabel co-founded a nonprofit called Minervas, which provides the platform and tools for women in communities around the world to form self-organised “Circles of Dialogue” where they can exchange ideas and support each other’s endeavours. She stressed the importance of platforms like Minervas and Wiser.org, which allow people to come together in solidarity around shared passions and concerns.

In 15 minutes I had this existential crisis where I realised that I was living a very happy life, but nothing was so meaningful that it would deserve an award.

Isabel remarked, “So much of our culture gives lower value to compassion, to nurturing, to caring and more quantitative aspects—money, success, competition—are more socially valuable.” She hopes that by bringing women’s voices and contributions to the table, traits like empathy and nurturing that are traditionally seen as “feminine” will become just as integral to society as “masculine” ones: “We are missing out on this other perspective that is so important, that would make our lives, our corporations, our communities more balanced.”

Isabel’s emphasis on balance is also important in her latest project, a book called Big Bang Being: Developing the Sustainability Mindset, which features interviews with 16 business leaders who led initiatives that made a positive impact on the environment or society. Her reason for writing the book? “I was curious to know why they did it. Maybe if we could understand what they thought, what they knew, we may be able to intentionally develop a new generation of leaders.”

What she discovered was that all the people she interviewed had experienced some sort of cognitive shift that caused them to look at the world through what could be described as a “spiritual mindset” (although none were religious) and to ask themselves questions like, “What am I supposed to do? What is the higher purpose of me being in this role? And how am I doing?” As a result, these leaders tended to see the consequences of their actions within the larger context of their communities and the environment.

Isabel’s next task was identifying aspects of this “sustainability mindset” that could be consciously developed. She found that cultivating the right hemisphere of the brain, the part that tends to provide us with intuitive understanding and holistic impressions, is crucial in a culture where left-brain characteristics like quantitative analysis and logic dominate most aspects of life. We are all capable of tuning into our right-brain wisdom, according to Isabel: “It is built in our heads. So if we learn to connect more, to pay more attention to this information, then the decisions start to be different.”

This is adapted from an interview with Isabel Rimanoczy by Jane Lee & Laura Ross-Perry. You can view the original here.

BBB_coverBig Bang Being is out now. To celebrate the book’s launch we are offering a limited 20% discount. To find out more, please visit our website.

Isabel Rimanoczy, Ed.D., is a Legacy Coach, who believes that we all have something amazing to give, and we just need to connect with our deeper being to become aware of this. Once we find it, we can be intentional in making our mark, shaping the world we want to live in.

Isabel is a frequent speaker and presenter at international conferences. She is a visiting professor at Fordham University, where she teaches a course in developing the sustainability mindset. She grew up in Argentina, where she earned her BA in Psychology at the University of Buenos Aires, and her MBA at the University of Palermo. She obtained her doctorate at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York. Isabel is the co-founder and Director of MINERVAS, Women Changing the World, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organisation that supports women making a difference.

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