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125. Embracing Full-Spectrum Leadership to Succeed in a Changing World with Nina Simons

What 3 words would you use to describe a leader whom you admire? A leader who you know can succeed in our VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, & ambiguous) world? I'm guessing that your three words will be a mix of both feminine and masculine traits. In other words, effective leaders operate using full-spectrum leadership. In this episode, Nina Simons, co-founder & Chief Relationship Officer of Bioneers, shares her journey to full-spectrum leadership, emphasizing the importance of embracing diversity and honoring differences.

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Unlock the benefits of full-spectrum leadership in fostering an inclusive and diverse work environment.

  • Appreciate the role of relational intelligence and emotional maturity in shaping successful leaders.

  • Uncover the power of sacred activism and its potential to transform the modern workplace culture.


About Nina:

Nina Simons headshot
Nina Simons

Nina Simons is the co-founder and Chief

Relationship Officer at Bioneers, and leads its Everywoman’s Leadership program. Bioneers is a nonprofit that uses media, convening, and connecting to lift up visionary and practical solutions for many of our most pressing social and ecological challenges, revealing a regenerative and equitable future that’s within our reach today.

Nina is a social entrepreneur who is passionate about reinventing leadership, restoring the feminine, and co-creating a healthy, peaceful, and equitable world for all. She speaks and teaches internationally at schools, conferences, and festivals, and co-facilitates transformative workshops and retreats for women that share practices for regenerative leadership through reclaiming wholeness and relational mindfulness.

Throughout her career spanning the nonprofit, social entrepreneurship, corporate, and philanthropic sectors, Nina has worked with nearly a thousand diverse women leaders across disciplines, race, class, age, orientation, and more to create conditions for mutual learning and leadership development. She produces and speaks at large-scale events to work intimately to help small, diverse groups of women leaders knit together to strengthen each other’s work pursuing intersectional healing and ecological justice.

In 2017, Nina was a recipient of the Goi Peace Award, presented annually to individuals who have made outstanding contributions toward the realization of a peaceful and harmonious world. Past honorees include Bill Gates, James Lovelock, and Deepak Chopra. Her prior work includes President at Seeds of Change, a biodiversity organic seed

company, which she helped grow into an emerging national brand in less than five years by using innovative approaches to public relations and community-based marketing. At Odwalla, as Director of Strategic Marketing, she grew consumer loyalty while guiding teams nationwide just after their IPO.

Nina studied Theater Arts and Psychology at Cornell University. In addition to writing the first and second editions of Nature, Culture, and the Sacred, Nina co-edited 2010’s Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart (Park Street Press), which explores the flourishing, passionate forms of leadership emerging from women (and some men) on

behalf of the Earth through the prism of more than 30 essays from diverse women leaders.


While it's not perfect, we offer this transcription by Castmagic for those who prefer to read or who are hearing impaired.

Teri Schmidt [00:00:00]:

Welcome Nina to the Strong Leaders Serve Podcast. I am really looking forward to today's conversation with you.

Nina Simons [00:00:07]:

And me too. You, Terry. Thanks.

Teri Schmidt [00:00:10]:

Excellent. Well, I would love to have you start, as we do with many of our guests, just telling us a little bit about your journey to where you are today, how you currently lead and kind of some of the high points of your journey that have you there.

Nina Simons [00:00:26]:

Oh gosh, okay, let's see how quick I can do this. It's a long, windy journey that I detail extensively in my book. But basically I grew up the daughter of artists. I fell in love with nature at a very early age. I thought my initial path was going to be producing or directing what I called transformational theater. And then I discovered how hard it might be to earn a living at that. I fell in love with a filmmaker who was making a film about alternative cancer therapies and discovered that I could use my marketing skills for marketing ideas that I really believed in. And that was a big AHA for me. And then I went with him to film a biodiversity garden in southern New Mexico. And while I was there, and I was experiencing in a kind of rapturous state how beautiful this garden was and different than anything I'd ever seen, I also learned about the growing threat to biodiversity of our food system. And by the time I was finished touring this extraordinary garden, I felt as if the spirit of the natural world had tapped me on the shoulder and said, you're working for me now. And I went to work for an entrepreneurial startup called Seeds of Change. And soon after that, my husband was offered a grant because he was discovering amazing, innovative people who had solutions to many of our most pressing challenges. And he was offered a grant to make a conference. And he'd never been to a conference. And he said to the guy who offered him the money, he said, it sounds boring, why would I do that? And the friend said, here's a grant, go make a conference. And Kenny came to me and said, you have a theater background, help me make a conference. And neither of us had ever been to a conference. And so we had the benefit of Beginners Mind and we created something called Bioners, which is a nonprofit organization that does many, many things, but it has an annual convening that attracts about 2500 people and creates a lot of online media. And in the course of all that, I began to realize how much my being a woman was affecting my sense of options and possibilities and my relationship to this squirrely word called leadership, because I got acknowledged for my leadership and I didn't like it. And so I embarked on like a 20 year exploration which included hosting groups of very diverse women leaders to explore what is women's leadership? How are we reinventing leadership in this time? That is a much more servant based leadership, as your title suggests. And how can we reclaim a definition of leadership that we all can wholeheartedly aspire to? And in the course of that, I learned a ton about how I could shed self limiting beliefs and how I could cultivate myself into becoming the person who I believe my soul brought me here to be. That's a long winded answer, but my recent book is sort of the chronicle of that journey.

Teri Schmidt [00:04:19]:

And I have to encourage everyone to go out and get your book because just hearing more detail about your story and then also learning about the work you're doing and the amazing people that you're doing the work with really changed a lot in me, and I'm so grateful for that. So the book is Nature, Culture and the Sacred. A woman listens for leadership.

Nina Simons [00:04:45]:

Right. Well, thank you.

Teri Schmidt [00:04:48]:

Yeah. Again, I was reading that before I knew that you would be available to be a guest on the podcast.

Nina Simons [00:04:56]:

It just all worked out.

Teri Schmidt [00:04:57]:


Nina Simons [00:04:58]:

How nice. Well. And I think part of what my life experience has taught me, Terry, is that whether you're in a startup company or just joining a corporate career or doing nonprofit work or being a community based organizer or a parent, they're all different octaves of leadership skills. And all of the skill sets apply, no matter which permutation you might opt for or feel called to.

Teri Schmidt [00:05:29]:

Yes, very true. Well, I have to dig in because part of your story, you said you didn't like being called a leader, and I've heard several women say the same thing. We had a past guest who actually taught a woman's leadership class at a university, and she asked that question, asked the women to raise their hands if they saw themselves as a leader, and she was struck by how few did raise their hands. So I'd love to have you unpack your experience for us and just tell us what happened and why you had that reaction and kind of where you've gone since then.

Nina Simons [00:06:13]:

Okay, well, I consider my own process of self cultivation to be a combination of peeling away layers of cultural learning that I never consciously adopted but that I find are very deep within me anyway. So it's a combination of peeling away that stuff and then building the muscle and the capacity to be who I admire and who I want to become instead. And what I found with leadership is that, for one thing, I did an earlier book that was called Moonrise the Power of Women Leading from the Heart. And in it I've had this amazing living laboratory through bioners of being able to witness and work with hundreds or maybe thousands of leaders. And so I was able to do this project where I transcribed a lot of their talks and I looked for patterns in terms of, well, who are the leaders that I most admire, that I want to be like, that I consider role models and how are they doing something different from the conventional definition of leadership. And so what I found over, I don't know, 20 years of working with women leaders was that most everybody showed up not wanting to be called a leader, and they had even been selected for their leadership. So we knew they were leaders. And as we unpacked it, what we found was that whether consciously or not, we've all adopted this mental model that says leaders lead from the front of the room. They're tall and loud and charismatic and aggressive, and they tend to dominate, and they always think they know the answers and they can be quite egotistical and very aggressive. And so as I began to understand, oh, this is my mental model, and not only mine, but many women's, perhaps most women's, I realized, oh, no wonder we don't want to be called that. Part of my recognition was about that, and part of it was also that I felt like being called a leader painted a target on my back and that there was something very vulnerable about accepting that kind of authority. And when I did that first book, a lot of what I found, Terry, was that the leaders I most admired were not leaders who were given authority in a title or a graduate degree or inherited wealth. They were leaders who had accepted an assignment because of their inner passion, because of something that they were really devoted to and really cared about and had wrapped their arms around it, oftentimes without really knowing if they had the skills to do them. And that was true in my life, too. I mean, when I became a social entrepreneur, I had not been to business school. I had no formal training. And when the board of that company asked me to become president, I had to say, the only way I can accept your invitation is if it's okay with you for me to say, I don't know when I don't know the answer, and how many of us have seen how many men in leadership say that? So there we go. I mean, it's a complex. It's a process. And I think part of what I'm really proud of about the book is that I was able to integrate not only my writing and my speaking and my learning along the way, but these discussion guides and embodied practices that really help anyone to go through their own processes around that.

Teri Schmidt [00:10:21]:

Yeah, around shedding those layers, like you mentioned.

Nina Simons [00:10:25]:

Well, both shedding the layers and building the muscle to actually appreciate your own gifts, your talents, and to hold yourself with a dignity that our culture does not easily give us.

Teri Schmidt [00:10:38]:

It is so true. And I came to that self discovery reading the book as well about discovery started actually a couple of years ago with a podcast guest as we were talking about leadership presence and what it looked like, and we came to the conclusion through our conversation that it was what it says it is. It's about being present. It's not about wearing a suit or projecting your voice, which, to be honest, was my view on leadership presence before that conversation. And then just reading your book and having many other conversations has really reinforced this different view of leadership. Like you said, those who are listening to this podcast are leaders not for the position or title, but they're accepting an assignment to lead about something they're passionate about. And for many, that is making a way for others to discover their potential and potentially become leaders themselves.

Nina Simons [00:11:37]:

Well, I think that's essential to the new definition of leadership that we're all co creating it's. One of my greatest joys in my own leadership is showing up for other women to be able to reflect back to them, you have real talents here, here, and here, and you could be doing this and have you thought about that? And what a gift, what Glorious Dinhum said is lifting up others.

Teri Schmidt [00:12:05]:

Yes, exactly. Well, I know you talk in the book a lot about full spectrum leadership, and I was really drawn to that because I hadn't considered the different feminine and masculine ends of the spectrum, I guess you would say. But you talk about how this isn't just a type of leadership for women. We all, as leaders, need to embody this full spectrum leadership. So can you dig into that a little bit? Tell us a little bit more about that and why it is so needed now in our times.

Nina Simons [00:12:41]:

You bet. And one of the references that I would offer for listeners is to check out either a book or a website called The Athena Doctrine, because it's a fascinating global study that was done by two male researchers about how people's ideas about what makes an effective leader are changing. And the essence of it, if I can distill it down. I mean, they have this massive sampling of millions of people across 13 countries, and like 67% said the world would be healthier and better if more people led like women, which was fascinating. So there is a lot of data starting to pile up out there about how women tend to lead differently than men. And I want to be careful about this because there are women who are leading just like men right. And who have really adopted a masculine paradigm around leadership. But what I have come to believe, really, even before we started getting into tossing the binaries out the window, was that I believe that the ancient Chinese and many other indigenous cultures really have it right when they say a whole human has masculine and feminine within them. They also, according to some indigenous cultures, believe we all have elders and youngers within us as well. Right. So a whole system view of what's a whole, fully integrated human being would say. I have masculine and feminine within me. Absolutely. And we have to be careful about our language because just like with leadership, we have all of these kind of twisted, deformed ideas of what masculine and feminine are. Some from Hollywood, some from childhood, some from capitalism, et cetera, et cetera. But if we consider that in their purest senses, the masculine is the active principle and the feminine is the receptive principle, just like if you imagine the YinYang symbol, ancient Chinese both have the opposite within them, and they are perfectly balanced when the system is in harmony. So I came to think of that as my model for full spectrum leadership. Like, what I realized was, okay, active and receptive. Well, no matter what situation life brings me, I want to draw from anywhere on that spectrum that I need to and not be limited by what my culture has told me is appropriate for women or inappropriate for women. Can't do that anymore. Life is calling us with too much urgency to be so limited in our self definition.

Teri Schmidt [00:15:48]:

You also mentioned that we're kind of at this inflection point toward leadership, really focusing on relational intelligence. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Nina Simons [00:16:02]:

Sure. I think that our culture that has been so influenced by systems of patriarchy and capitalism and colonialism has led us to imagine that the Supreme Being inside our whole humanity is our mind. And many Indigenous people teach that often the longest distance we have to traverse as settler, colonial, white supremacist beings is the distance between our heads and our hearts. And what I have found and then I want to connect it to my love of the natural world. Because Fritzov Capra is an Austrian physicist and author, and he says the shift to an eco literate world, one that knows how to live in right relationship to all of nature involves a shift from amassing and counting things to mapping relationship. And nature is this incredibly complex web of relationship. And what I have found is that we are all products of a culture that has undervalued relationship. The realm of relationship has been assigned to the, quote, feminine. If you think about I hate it when they call films chickflicks because they're all about relationships. Excuse me. Men don't have relationships, really. So I think that we're also living through an epidemic of loneliness, and people have been writing about that recently and about the health impacts of it and the tragedy of it. And I feel like what we're living through in this roiling time is a crisis of relationship on every level. And I think within ourselves, we often judge parts of ourselves. We dismiss our emotional responses. We shove them under the rug or ignore them. We turn away from conflict. And one of my favorite recent quotes comes from a teacher named Maladoma Somay, and he says, conflict is relationship's way of inviting you to go deeper. Imagine that, right? If we related to it like that. So I think the crisis of relationship is true about us on the inside, where we have our masculine and feminine sides fighting and we have our youth and elder sides not really honoring each other and all that. And of course, we are not trained in the fine arts of relating to each other and with each other and how to cultivate relationship and how do you enter into intimacy in a good way. And we can see it everywhere from our most intimate relationships to our governmental and policy making relationships where there's strife every which way and a real lack of education. I mean, I would say we're living in an emotionally and relationally illiterate society, so we have to really reclaim that. And I think as leaders, that's part of the most essential training we can focus on.

Teri Schmidt [00:19:48]:

Yeah, you got to a point that I wanted to dig into a little bit, and that is say I'm a leader in the corporate world, for example. I'm surrounded by a fear based society where we have been given preference for the more masculine types of leadership. What do I do? What does it look like to operate from relational intelligence and to utilize full spectrum leadership?

Nina Simons [00:20:15]:

Yeah, I think part of what it looks like is really investing time and energy and attention in cultivating your team. Because part of what I found about becoming growing into this role of leadership is that I'm very proud that in our organization, we have such high retention that we have employees who've been with us for 20 years. And in the last five years, we've had one person turn over, and it was because she went to graduate school. So I mean, investing in your team and in team based responses doesn't mean giving up your own authority, but it does mean really honoring diverse perspectives within your team and inviting those who don't talk often in a group setting, making space for them, making sure you hear them and recognize the value of what they bring. Because I do think we are evolving right now as a species from a me culture to a we culture and that the most effective leadership is team based and involves shared authority and honoring difference.

Teri Schmidt [00:21:36]:

That honoring difference piece brought to mind another point from your book when you were talking about your women's leadership intensives and the discovery that you had in terms of diversity of the 30% rule. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Nina Simons [00:21:54]:

Sure. Well, we had been convening diverse groups of 20 women at a time for several years. And then I read in this book by a woman named Linda Tarweln called Women Lead The Way, that there was data that showed that until any minority has reached 30% of the total number of people, they don't feel flanked enough to fully show up. And when I read that, I brought it to my Co facilitators and I said, look at this. We haven't reached our 30%. And we immediately made the decision together that we would have one of three facilitators be a woman of color and that we would have a minimum of 30% women of color in every cohort. And it made a gigantic difference. Terry, as soon as we did it, and I couldn't help noticing, I was reading a Ms magazine article this morning about how older men in politics should make way for women to run, and there are currently only 25% women in the Senate, and the House is even less. And so until we reach that 30% mark, I mean, it's crazy how long and hard it's taking us to get there, because as the patriarchy is really dug in. And as many wise movement leaders have noted, power doesn't seed power easily. And I have a new name for it which could be helpful for everybody to hear.

Teri Schmidt [00:23:37]:

Love to hear it.

Nina Simons [00:23:38]:

Okay. I'm working on changing a pattern in myself and this self cultivation thing, like, I imagine it's going to go on till the day I die, but I was bemoaning to a friend. Have you ever had the experience where you're really sick of a pattern you observe in yourself and you're really ready to change it, and just when you're, like, you feel like you're ready to cross the finish line, it flares up and seems exponentially big? And she laughed and she said, oh, yes, social psychologists have a name for that. They call it an extinction burst. And, Terry, I used to talk about how the dying tale of the dinosaur of patriarchy was flailing and doing as much damage as it could on its way out. And now I have a new name for it. It's an extinction burst.

Teri Schmidt [00:24:38]:

That's got me thinking. I mean, if you look at the news, I mean, I can I can see exactly, definitely evidence of that.

Nina Simons [00:24:46]:

Every direction, every area of life, right?

Teri Schmidt [00:24:50]:

Yeah. So what do we do?

Nina Simons [00:24:53]:

Well, we focus our attention on contributing, each in our own way, to the world that wants to be born, because it is being born. We have like minded and like hearted people around us. We find those who can strengthen our efforts at self cultivation and whether it's forming a women's circle outside of work or a discussion group at work. But part of my big learning from all those years was no wonder we have been culturally trained to be in cat fights with each other, because we have an extraordinary capacity to grow each other and to strengthen each other's learning. And so I think what we do is we turn our discipline, which I sometimes I write about, as I was able to heal my relationship with discipline by thinking of it as discipleship. So we use our discipline to turn our attention from the world that's dying good to know, basically what's going on out there, but not to give it all the attention it's demanding, because who needs it? It doesn't help us. And meanwhile, to recognize that cultivating ourselves into who we were born to be is not a selfish act. It's an act of service and leadership on behalf of our families, our work, our culture and the world.

Teri Schmidt [00:26:31]:

Right. Yeah. It's a critically important one.

Nina Simons [00:26:35]:

Exactly. And it's one that, as women, we tend to have a really hard time with because we've been so culturally trained to think that serving others is good and caring for the self is selfish. And we have to shift that because we're burning out great women at a really alarming pace and ourselves, and we can't do it.

Teri Schmidt [00:27:01]:

Yeah. I love what you said, that self cultivation is in itself an act of service because then it helps you to more fully be in the world in the way that you were intended to be.

Nina Simons [00:27:17]:

That's right. It helps me sometimes, Terry, to think about myself as an instrument of my own purpose. And to think that, well, unless I care for this instrument, unless I tune it regularly, unless I keep it in sync with what's happening around me and my own needs for rest and regeneration, my instrument can't play the beautiful music it's designed for.

Teri Schmidt [00:27:44]:

So true. And if we could all do that and we had the support of others like us, around us I love what you talk about the natural world in terms of the most resilient and fruitful places in nature are where you have the most diversity.

Nina Simons [00:28:04]:

Right. And that's an interesting lesson, because it's true not only in our workplaces, it's true within ourselves. Right. So that means you can't be happy all the time. That's not who we're meant to be. There are places that are healthy to reclaim our emotions and to give ourselves permission to feel grief or anger or despair when they come up, because we're living through a lot of loss. And actually, if we deny those feelings I mean, I personally am of the belief that if we could create public spaces where it was safe for people to express their grief, we could diminish the amount of violence in this country, like, overnight. Yeah. So cultivating diversity within ourselves means reclaiming those parts of ourselves we may have banished and we may have left them behind for good reason at some point in our childhood or during a trauma. But now it's time to regather our whole selves because Mother life is ringing off the hook and she needs us now.

Teri Schmidt [00:29:30]:

Definitely. So let's say you were in front of a room of new leaders in the corporate space they had just transitioned into their first leadership role. But they are leaders. I like to call them leaders who care. Leaders who are not there because they just wanted the manager title. But they're there because, again, they want to use their capabilities to make a way for other people to develop their potential. What would be your advice to them in terms of getting started with full spectrum leadership? And again, we're talking a room full of all genders. Why should they want to get started and how can they get started?

Nina Simons [00:30:14]:

Well, I would suggest, first of all, that they don't imagine that they need to do it alone, that they identify a partner, a friend, a circle that they can work with. Because for me, what I found, Terry, is that in its simplest form, I understand the way we're redefining leadership to be the place where our particular gifts and talents meet a need for reinvention in the world in a way that brings us energy and joy and doesn't deplete us.

Teri Schmidt [00:30:58]:


Nina Simons [00:30:59]:

So those are the three elements. And in order to do that, we have to have a realistic assessment of what are our gifts and talents and what are they not. I once had a mentor who taught me that one of the most common mistakes that leaders make is to think that people who think like them are smart and people who don't think like them are not. And when in working with that person, what we found was that we had populated our organization with people who think like us, which meant that they were kind of visionary and relational, but they weren't necessarily strong in the analytical and procedural ways of thinking. And so, over time, we've rebalanced our whole organization. So I say that by means of illustrating that. I think one of our first tasks as young leaders is to get a really clear sense of what am I good at? What am I not good at, what brings me energy and joy, what is it that I love to do, what is it that I really don't love to do? And what energizes me and what depletes me? Because I don't think that there's any cookie cutter job description for leadership. And I think as leaders, one of the things we can do without authority is to craft our job descriptions and our portfolios around what do we do well and who should we be asking for help in the areas we're not good at. And there's a third category, which is what do you aspire to be good at but you're not good at yet, and how might you cultivate yourself to get better at it? Right, but I think we have to disabuse ourselves of the notion that as leaders, we're supposed to be good at everything. We're human and we can't be right. And that negates the idea of diversity. And so I think my earliest thing would be to say there are a lot of practices in the book that you could use or make it up as you go along, but get with some friends or colleagues or allies, because so often people who know us can see us much more clearly than we can see ourselves. And in many ways it's a question of stepping out of ego and into a place where you can witness yourself in a balanced way that holds your full dignity while recognizing I'm lousy at figuring out how long things take. I'm so bad at it. Okay, so thankfully I have a colleague who's really good at it. And right at the beginning of our relationship, I said, look, I'm really bad at this, so I need your help and don't be afraid to push back if I say this should take 2 hours and you know it's going to take five, tell me. I think as we went through all these exercises of unpacking the conventional model of leadership and rebuilding the leadership we all wanted to be, one of the valued traits was a willingness to not know the answer. And in many ways, I think one of the things that I've learned as a leader is that questions are more powerful than answers. And how do you cultivate the wisdom of your team? Well, partly by asking questions and listening and observing really deeply because you will have allies and strong suits show up that maybe surprise you. Then, you'll know, for next time, oh, I want to ask that person.

Teri Schmidt [00:35:07]:

Right? Yeah.

Nina Simons [00:35:10]:

So that would be a start. And also be bold. Be bold and trust your instincts and your intuitions. Because part of my idea about full spectrum leadership, it's not only about embracing all of our human qualities from masculine to feminine. It also means embracing our body knowing and our instincts and our intuition because those are also things that our culture has told us are not to be valued, but in fact, they're tremendous sources of information if only we can honor them.

Teri Schmidt [00:35:48]:

I know you talk a lot about some of your experiences with that in the book that are just mind blowing and impactful. So we have the new leaders. They're going to make sure that they're focused on understanding themselves, understanding all aspects of themselves and what they uniquely bring, what gives them energy. Then they're going to be focused on the team and asking those questions to help others do the same, it sounds.

Nina Simons [00:36:16]:

Like, and to just be really respectful. I think we're living through a time where everyone is needing much more than I've ever seen before, to be seen and acknowledged and heard. And those things sound simple, but they're not. And they're especially not given our racialized culture and our class caste based culture. And so I think treating everyone around you with mutuality and respect is a tremendously important vibe to create in the room and to let your team know that they really belong there and that you value them. Again, it's not that complicated. It's just different than what we've been trained to do.

Teri Schmidt [00:37:07]:


Nina Simons [00:37:07]:

And we have to get our egos out of the way and trust that we can hold our own authority without. Asserting our perspectives and know that we have final say as leaders or managers or whatever role we have, while at the same time really respecting everyone's input.

Teri Schmidt [00:37:28]:

Yeah, and I think that's such an important message, especially for a new leader. I think sometimes I know when I was making that transition, maybe feeling a little insecure and needing to show that I knew what I was talking about or I deserve the role and how you can fall into that trap. But you can show so much more authority by helping others feel seen and helping others feel like they belong.

Nina Simons [00:37:54]:

It's so true. And it's also true that principle about diversity rules the healthiest system is the one with the most diversity is not only about race and ethnicity and class, but it's also about introverts and extroverts. And we all have different thinking talents and different ways of perceiving an issue or a problem. And so the full range of human diversity is an amazing thing if we can learn to treat it as a virtue and not a challenge.

Teri Schmidt [00:38:32]:

So true. Well, this has been a very energizing conversation for me. But before we go, I have a couple more questions for you. First. As I mentioned, our listeners are in leadership because they want to see more compassion and justice in their workplace and they want to lead in a way that helps to make that happen. And I know Bioners has a learning opportunity coming up on sacred activism, and so I'd love for you to share a little bit about that because when we were talking about that before we hit record, I just found it fascinating.

Nina Simons [00:39:07]:

Sure. Well, Bioners has just launched an online learning platform, and if anyone goes to Ncsbook, you can download a free introduction to my book. But you can also sign up for the newsletter, which will let you know all about our offerings with Bioners Learning. And I have a dear colleague and friend who I've been teaching with for six or seven years, and she's actually a Buddhist practitioner and Dharma teacher who spent seven years in a monastery. And when she came out, she said, you know, I learned a lot, and the practice of Zen Buddhism is too masculine for me. And so she wrote a book called Relational Mindfulness, which is a reframe of mindfulness practice and it's absolutely beautiful. And she and I have taught leadership trainings at places like Eslin and other places. And when given the opportunity to teach something online, which we're going to do the four Sunday mornings in August, we decided that sacred activism was what we were most excited about teaching. And sacred activism, to me, that's true. Typically, right? And typically, as you're describing the leaders who are listening to this podcast, they're speaking from a place of caring. They're not just wanting to assert their authority for power's sake. So that's activism. And what sacred activism? I mean, we'll be unpacking all this in our course and helping everyone who joins us for it to identify their own relationships to the sacred and to activism, because we don't know all the answers. We're just living into it, just like everyone else. But I've been thinking about it a lot, and I realized that every major career move that I've made in my life, every major decision, has been guided by what I would call sacred activism, by listening really deeply for the kind of guidance that says, yes, this is yours to do, or no, this is not yours. But what about this? How do we learn to listen really deeply for the guidance that comes from something outside ourselves, something bigger than ourselves, that still lives within us?

Teri Schmidt [00:41:47]:

And imagine the power that will come out of that learning opportunity. Because I know, like you said, our society has separated maybe the sacred and the activism, but yet when you can bring those together, as evidenced by your life, you are able to sustain, you don't burn out, and you're able to make that impact and really be you in the world.

Nina Simons [00:42:14]:

That's right. Or I prefer to say have influence and make impact. I mean, I think we have a lot of relanguaging to do.

Teri Schmidt [00:42:23]:

Yes, we do.

Nina Simons [00:42:26]:

I used to think, well, I'm not an activist because I don't go out and demonstrate and get arrested. That was my mental model. And really over the years, I've realized, oh, my gosh, everything is a form of activism. The only thing that's not activism is being a bystander. And I don't think any of us would want to choose to be a bystander at this time.

Teri Schmidt [00:42:50]:

Right? Yeah, we can't.

Nina Simons [00:42:53]:

Well, we could. We could, but what a deadening way to live, right?

Teri Schmidt [00:42:59]:

Exactly. Well, you mentioned a couple of places that people can go to download a chapter of your the introduction to your book, as well as learn about what Bioneers is up to and and the learning opportunities we referenced. Is there anywhere else that we can be sure to link in the show notes if people want to contact you or learn more about bioneers?

Nina Simons [00:43:20]:

Sure. Well, is really easy and we have a wonderful newsletter and great podcast series. And I also have my own website which is, and on that site I list any events that I'm doing, but also I list all the podcasts I've done so that if you're curious to hear more in different contexts, that would be the place to go.

Teri Schmidt [00:43:47]:

Excellent. Well, like I said, we'll make sure that gets linked so it's easy to find. But again, thank you for taking the time to be with us today, Nina. It has been a joy to talk with you, and I've learned so much just in our short conversation today. So thank you.

Nina Simons [00:44:03]:

It's really a pleasure, Terry. And honestly, it's my purpose, so I'm really grateful for the time with you and your listeners. Thanks.


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