11/27 – Freedom to Learn: The New Meaning of American Dream

Alla Ratner

Alla Ratner

Alla Ratner
Alla Ratner


This article describes the benefits of spiritually empowered practice in business and beyond. Our company provides guidance to entrepreneurial leaders who come from Russia in the hopes of finding their business niche in the United States. We help these emerging Russian-American leaders to incorporate spiritual concepts in their development plans.

We share our journeys of searching for freedom and happiness with clients. Our clients learn by drawing from the experiences of how members of our company immigrated to the United States and how we searched for our American Dream. Participating in various spiritual discussions and exercises, international leaders experience a shift in perception, which subsequently allows them to reinvent their business purpose and build a meaningful enterprise.

Our clients are also taught to share their experience by guiding their subordinate executives and managers. Now on spiritual footing, a snowballing effect occurs as we attempt to contribute to the collective creation of goodness. This experience revitalizes the spirit of freedom, opportunity and happiness. This is where the joy of an American Dream is found. It is by sharing our collective experiences that we renew the Dream, upon which America was created.

Experiential Background

Growing up in the former USSR during the 1980s, I was watching the US President, Ronald Reagan, from the small screen of our old black and white TV in a tiny apartment in Leningrad. I was filled with the adolescent dreams about the country where liberty for everyone is a divine right and constitutional landmark, and I believed that my search for freedom, truth and happiness would be realized if I immigrated to the United States.

In 2008, I was watching the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, from the wide screen of HDTV in the comfort of my own house in Staten Island, New York. Greenspan shrugged his shoulders commenting that his team of two hundred PhD’s felt powerless in their attempt to figure out the real estate crisis. By then, I had immigrated to the United States, went through school and built my own business. I had implemented my initial idea of an American Dream and I had arrived.

I was neither free nor happy, so, my journey began all over again, but on a different footing. I was still dreaming about the land of freedom and opportunity as I had a quarter century ago. Yet, I realized that the American Dream is a path to freedom, not its end. I realized that the past 25 years were but a prelude to my search for truth and happiness. Real lessons were yet to be learned.

Among the first lessons I learned was that the American Dream is a soul’s longing for wholeness and the financial crisis mirrors the bankruptcy of our collective soul. The American Dream cannot be purchased as a fancy TV set, pretty house or a prestigious academic title can. It can only be learned through genuine character building. The pursuits of self-centered goals are never free. The ultimate cost is the painfully unconscious darkness of soul, a disease of shadow consciousness. It corrupts our ability to see people beyond protocol or hear a human heartbeat beyond intellectual pride.

The American Dream is not meant to deliver me my freedom on a silver platter. I have to claim it through conscious practice. I can exercise my freedom to learn. I can learn to act as a power of example. And as a guide for others, I was responsible to practice that “freedom to learn”, which was granted to me with American citizenship. As a guide for others I have to continuously grow in awareness. Without practice, my freedom is an illusion and my advice is empty talk.

When spiritual development is prioritized, the meaning of material rewards change. Giving becomes more fulfilling than taking. The sense of happiness and freedom is achieved through servicing others. That longing for truth is satisfied in the continuous learning to walk this earth with reverence, humility and gratitude.

As I was growing in understanding and effectiveness, I also felt a need to share my experience with other similarly positioned leaders. To this end, my company has developed an introductory course for entrepreneurial executives interested in authentic practices. The course offers some basic orientation tips to help business leaders collaborate in groups and manage their relationships better.

Ways of communicating and transmitting spiritual principles may vary, while the principles stay the same.  As Mark McCaslin pointed out, there is not much essential novelty on this path since it was documented throughout history, across nations and cultures (McCaslin, 2013). I am offering yet another way to verbalize these basic approaches for learning leadership and teamwork competencies. I trust that in sharing our experiences we will collectively grow and cooperate as communities, where the American dream of wholeness is once again cherished through nurturing collective soul and spirit.

Our program consists of five consecutive steps helping trainees to get acquainted with spiritual ideas. Simple contemplative and reflective exercises are introduced throughout the program. Leaders share their experiences with guides and other participants of the training as they begin to feel comfortable in discussing their spirituality. This is an experiential learning and emphasis is placed on the shifting of perception. Our program is individually tailored to help students progress at a reasonably comfortable pace, allowing everyone a chance to settle within their new experience. Guides are prepared to either slow down or accelerate the training to ensure that students acquire an ultimate benefit. The following sections of the article introduce the steps of our program.

Intelligent Audience

We predominantly work with rationally inclined leaders, ex-USSR citizens, who tend to process new ideas strictly intellectually. The majority of our clients never exercised their “spiritual muscles”. If we are to awaken their souls, we need to go through the way of intellectual logic.

The practice of “Intelligent Audience” can be described as highly patient and sharply aware listening, where rare guiding comments – presented as considerations – help people remove blocks of excessive intellectualization. Many clients come to us with perceived knowledge of all the answers. We guide their monologs towards the dead end of “know it all” where trainees learn to lay aside everything they think they know.

After all, clients have all the answers within themselves.  Perhaps these are not the answers, but rather open-ended questions. Yet, if we cannot clearly identify our questions, how can we begin the quest for answers?  After engaging in “Intelligent Audience” sessions, our clients-students begin to realize that they had no experience of asking the correct question. The bedrock of their belief system begins to crack from within.

We probably learn more through this process than a client does, because we get to practice listening skills and we can’t cheat or fall asleep, because we can be asked for a comment at any moment. On a serious side, however, sometimes clients just need to vent and test their own logic before they can select a course of action.

Clients feel that our only goal is to help them reveal their own potential. As a result, they become more honest with themselves and more open for a dialog. Defenses fall away when people hear themselves speak in the presence of someone who supportively understands.

Once the process of “intelligent audience” is complete, many clients begin to see that they have to start over.  Now they may be ready and willing to recognize themselves as students who don’t have all the answers. Then we can move to the next phase of training, called “Twenty Four Hour Rule”.

Twenty Four Hour Rule

“Twenty Four Hour Rule” is a practice of impulse delay.  It is a decision to make no decision on any issue within at least 24 hours. Unless there is a clear emergency, that threatens someone’s health or well-being, the 24 hour rule is an excellent contemplative tool.  For leaders, who incorporate meditation in their personal and professional life, asking for guidance in meditative sitting is remarkably helpful. For others, a creative activity, listening to music, taking a walk or even a shower, helps to reboot a mental system, and make a decision to make no decision for 24 hours.

An opportunity to reflect is useful to anyone. The expression: “let me sleep on it” confirms a vital need for contemplating. For those interested to learn a meditative technique, we introduce basic exercises. If, repeated consistently, over time, the “24 Hour Rule” brings an array of benefits. Some leadership coaches report that prolonged practice of delaying impulses reduces a number of situations, previously perceived as emergencies, to a point where hardly any situation is viewed as an emergency. This is especially true if a leader is grounded in meditative practice.

A 24 hour rule helps to activate a calm and aware readiness to do the best one can possibly do under circumstances, being nonattached to outcomes. In contrary, the impulsive action is a form of addiction to escaping responsibility based on fear to be hurt. Most compulsive actions can be traced to fear of losing something one has or not gaining something one wants. Even mature leaders are human and fear is a human condition where no one is completely immune from falling into its traps at times. Therefore, practicing a 24 hour rule helps to bring all issues into a clear awareness, enacting mature willingness to follow some greater meaning and purpose. As Bill Torbert brilliantly expressed in his book “Managing Corporate Dream”: “Each developmental transformation from one managerial style to the next can be understood as detachment from an additional set of elements in the social world. Detachment brings the set of elements into view and makes it, for the first time, manageable. Without detachment there is no such process as management. (p. 18)

After we learn to remove ourselves from a problematic scene, and delay decision making for at least 24 hours, we may be ready for the next phase of the program, the Economy of Movement. Once we learn to clarify our questions, lay aside thoughts and take time away from a problem scene, we begin gaining independence from controlling the outcomes (which in fact control us). This means that we can begin training our inner vision. We can model our motion ahead of time. We rest our mind. We enter the world of “potentiality”. The next phase of the training provides tools for integrating stillness and movement in what we describe as “Economy of Movement”.

The Economy of Movement: From Scarcity to Abundance

Economy of scarcity is finite, fixed and stagnant. Economy of abundance is flexible and infinite. By learning the “Economy of Movement” as a concept and as a practice, we learn the perception of dynamics and flow where nothing is fixed and all is moving moment-to-moment. The desire to fixate on anything changeless makes us cling to the past, which is gone. The acceptance of infinite dynamics catapults us into the future because we constantly let go. Future becomes our present and we connect with our own potential. We remain ready to stay and ready to go. The “Economy of Movement” is an interim step, a bridge from scarcity to abundance. It facilitates the shift from limitation to infinity by helping us cease making needless effort or clinging to outcomes. We focus on the work process not its results. We let go off control. We learn to be Okay with an open end and an open mind. This perception represents a foundation of creativity in general. It is not so easy to develop this perception in a business filled with timelines, quality control, competitive pricing, payroll tax and insurance rates. The “Economy of Movement” helps leaders to grow in realization that the economy can subordinate to and even encourage creativity.    

In business schools we were learning to manage resources in the world of scarcity. We were not taught how to search for ways of creating new resources. We were not taught that unedited reality fuels our life with pure inspiration. Business school curriculums do not even remotely introduce the idea that the Infinity of options exists in potentiality. Mainstream management theories do not recognize the realm of abundance as an alternative economic view in place of the deficiency realm.

I became fascinated with the work of Abraham Maslow in business school during the 1990s. Puzzled with the stage of self-actualization, I realized that consciousness had to be free from fears of survival, security and any kind of deficiency needs in order to create.  I remember how my parents waited in lines in the Soviet Union to get basic food supplies in the 1970s and 1980s. I remember exhausted faces of regular citizens standing in long lines to buy toilet paper. Even such an item of primary hygiene was a subject of scarcity.  In place of bathroom tissue, people used pages from a daily national paper called “The Truth”, which reported that the USSR was the best country in the world. “Taking a dump on The Truth” was how many people felt about the meaning of honesty while cleaning themselves with a rough newspaper fiber.  It was difficult for an average person to perceive a potential of life while flushing “The roughness of Truth” down the toilet. Many people in the former USSR could not grow beyond survival needs. This situation represents yet another example of a collective shadow consciousness. The idea of a socialist-communist revolution may have been altruistic, but in the absence of spiritual foundation it turned into a collective collapse into the shadow.

The consciousness of fear, indifference, revenge, despair and helplessness does not differentiate between ethnic backgrounds, color or creed. Bankruptcy of soul can infect any person, nation, culture or territory focused on the consciousness of scarcity long enough. Therefore, focus on the economy of abundance is so important. The collective despair of all times and nations know spiritually empowered leaders who challenge the realm of deficiency by consciously living in the domain of abundance. I met such a power of example when I was leaving the Soviet Union in 1989.  My father was terminally ill, but adequate health care would be available to him outside Russia if we could leave quickly. I could not apply for permission to leave Russia without invitations from Israel, and my repeated attempts to receive these invitations through international mail did not get clearance from the government postage control. In search for a solution, I was introduced to a leader of the Russian chapter of the society of cultural relationships with Israel, which was outlawed at the time. This person lived with his wife and eight children in the communal apartment with several other families, but the light in his eyes could not be compared to the exhausted faces of other Soviet citizens, struggling in long lines over purchase of toilet paper. I don’t remember his name, but this man arranged for a delivery of Israeli invitations for my family two weeks after I visited him in Moscow. Although my father passed in Austria, I carry the memory of freedom this person shared with me. He was denied to leave USSR on the grounds of being a “political risk”. Yet, he was not a prisoner. He was a free man. He lived in the leadership of abundance and he shared hope with his fellow citizens like me.

The Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is an important tool for our leadership trainees. It helps them understand the meaning of growing through the stages of consciousness. Although we all studied Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, his later notions about post self-actualization experiences remain outside of business schools curriculums, creating the foundation for transpersonal psychology. During the “Economy of Movement” sessions, we begin discussing the realm of potentiality. When we see that our spirits rest in perpetual motion, we recognize that there are an infinite number of options potentially existing apart from space and time. We begin to understand the concept of “resting in motion”, which is a bedrock principle in all creative endeavors including creation of new companies, new business opportunities and new jobs.

The idea to encourage a shift from the economy of deficiency to the economy of abundance by introducing a step we called the “economy of movement”, came from my background in music. My mother was a piano professor in Leningrad Conservatory of Music and she created a technique described as the “economy of movement”.  She taught this technique to her piano students encouraging them to get free of technique. The point of “Economy of Movement” is in keeping fingers well stretched and relaxed, i.e. ready at any point of time. Thus, the greatest possible amplitude of keys is available under the performers’ fingertips and minimal movement is needed to reach any combination of notes.  More energy is available for a virtuosos’ stream of music, since less is consumed in moving hands here or there.

I like to translate this analogy into leadership competencies.  By keeping our attitudes relaxed and stretched, we can achieve greater amplitude of movement and stay more flexible.  We learn techniques to get free of technique. Practice helps us expend less energy on technique and focus more on quality.  “Economy of Movement” in leadership is a tool toward effortlessness.  Once economy is mastered, it allows creativity to lead the way.  Creativity taps into the perpetual wonder of life which is beyond any technique.  By practicing the “economy of movement”, leaders have more performing options open at any point of time. Therefore, the “Economy of Movement” serves well in bridging a perceptual shift from the economy of deficiency to the economy of abundance.

As leaders move through the process of training, they engage unlearning and relearning. We learn to reflect with sharp awareness, which empowers one to witness one’s own actions consciously, without attachment, and an ability to start anew at any moment. This process cultivates a growing sense of being comfortable with oneself, others and the world, which further leads to a deep feeling of gratitude and acceptance. At this point of training our students are ready for the next section of our program, “Education for Educators”.

Education for Educators: We Teach What We Learn

Thus far, we have been learning how to become more aware, more sensitive, more in-touch with our own potential.  We engage in a variety of spiritual practices helping us get acquainted with our own souls. If, at the beginning, a rationally inclined entrepreneurial trainee experiences difficulty in identifying with the term “spiritual practice”, we use a substitute language such as “creative” or “inspirational” practice.

Now we stand at the turning point. We are no longer just students, we are also teachers. At the beginning of this program, practicing the “Intelligent Audience”, it was suggested that we lay aside everything we thought we knew. If we were thorough with our practice, we left that “all knowing” hat behind. We began from a clean slate. We experienced that shift in perception stepping ashore from the domain of needs to the realm of freedom. We may be ready to learn how to transmit our newly found experiences to others, out of fullness and not out of deficiency.  We are not focused on what we need from others in return for our investment of time, money or any other resource, even though in business we do get return as a matter of fact. We are ready to share our freedom because we are getting free. In this newly balanced mind, we enjoy the “knowing” that we will get what we need. We don’t need to waste energy on worrying whether our needs will or will not be met. We can lead others towards this new strength. As a practitioner and as an accountant, who translates everything into a “credit-debit” scenario, I can testify that the payoff is worth the effort of becoming a “free spirited leader”. The step “Education for Educators” suggests that we are what we teach, and that we never stop learning if we desire to keep our newly found freedom of spirit.

All teachers, mentors and guides were students at some point. If, as students, we are not privy to anything but formalism, as teachers and mentors, we will transmit indifference to others. If, as coaches, we get infected with narcissism and stop seeing ourselves as learners, we “lose spiritual and moral license” to be nurturing advisors. Education can be a tool for inspiration or a weapon of cultivating cynicism. It may nurture or block genuine curiosity in a student. If awakened, this innate curiosity paves the path of walking through life with a sense of wonder. I’d like to offer a quote from my correspondence with Mark McCaslin, who stands among pioneers in the field of soul-centered education, and who continues to inspire my work:

When I work with people I just keep listening for that magic moment when they drop their guard and give a glimpse at the true purpose. Right behind that, in plain sight, stands their potential. While they may be seeking the magic seed from you, deep down they already have the magic. I just give them permission to release it. Stop practicing and it will go underground in a hurry. But with daily practice it can create wonders (McCaslin, 2013).

Although we may not officially hold a teaching position, we simultaneously teach what we learn as we move through the day. Unless we learn how to preserve that sense of wonder in ourselves, we cannot take responsibility for molding the minds of others. Thus, as teachers, coaches and consultants, we are responsible to commit to a process that can be identified as “Education for Educators”.

When I come in contact with blind educators, I try to be compassionate, remembering that everyone can only pass on what they were taught. I ask myself a question: What can I learn from this experience? I can learn to better spot and apply in my work the practical difference between intelligent compassion and intellectual pride, patient wisdom and shortsighted disciplinary enforcement. I can learn to become a “Leader –Potentiator”, using McCaslin’s terminology. Leader-potentiators are educators who care with wisdom and open minds. Caring without prudence leads to enabling, while intellect is dangerous without a spiritual foundation. When humility leads cognition, then a rational mind becomes a useful aid for intellectual sensitivity – a great tool for an educator, leader and leadership coach.

The idea of “Education for Educators” inspired the shift in my company’s business mission by offering spiritually-empowered leadership coaching alongside other support services. The business didn’t really change the merit or direction of service; it simply redirected the primary purpose from heightened revenues to heightened awareness. A common misperception of applying spirituality in business suggests that it is directed towards making business more profitable. This is not so. Profitability arrives as a by-product of changed leadership perception and not vice versa.  “Education for Educators” is neither a traditional psychoanalysis nor self-help empowerment course. It is an integral part of change achieved through spiritual practices.

Teaching by Example

We empower others when our actions speak louder than our words. I would not succeed in helping other people adjust in a new country, unless I found my own niche first. I was able to maintain my seat as a mentor to other people, only because I continuously learned all these years from every person who ever sought my help. In addition, my seat in leadership guidance had to be constantly reinventing itself. I continued to experience personal and professional transformations. My dreams were coming true in my life before I could help others find their true niche. In his brilliant book, “Managing the Corporate Dream”, Bill Torbert remarks on the importance of personal transformations for a group leader:

…only those managers who awaken to the point where they can make dream come true in their own lives become fully capable of exercising action inquiry. Therefore, only such managers can lead larger groups, organizations or nations through the developmental transformation that make corporate dream come true (Torbert, p. xxi)

Clients often ask me: “What is this “action inquiry”?  I see it as another way to relate a harmonious unity between thoughts and deeds. With practice, we become intimately aware of this unity and apply the harmony in our decision making process.  Torbert’s “action inquiry” is an excellent practice in learning to witness the flow of intention-thought-action without impulsive reaction. External conditions may even stay the same, but the preparedness for circumstances, rises significantly with practice.  Brilliant in its simplicity, Torbert’s description of “action inquiry” is as follows:

Every inquiry we make is an action …all information –  is simultaneously an action, influencing where our attention goes and what we give authority…And all action is simultaneously information communicating some meaning,… recognizing this, action inquiry shapes itself so as simultaneously

(1)   To learn about the developing situations

(2)   To accomplish whatever task appears to have priority, and

(3)   To invite collaborative transformations (rather than resisting change altogether or imposing it unilaterally) (Torbert, p. xxi)

Daily pressures, demanding customers or impatient subordinates may trigger that drive for a “quick fix” in a leader. Unconscious reactions or unwise shortcuts may follow, producing undesirable consequences. If I am looking for a shortcut in order to get rid of some annoying problem or person, this will always backfire. Torbert simply states that: “Quick Fix” provides “Fast fade” in reality (Torbert, 1987).  McCaslin’s philosophy is in agreement with Torbert’s as follows: “… there is no such thing as instant success, quick fixes, or short cuts…if you want something great then be great.” (McCaslin, 2013). Action inquiry as well as Potentiating Arts practice ensures co-creative flow of motives, intentions and events.

This process engages a gradual psycho-spiritual development. Initially, it may be emotionally painful to critically reflect on situations. Ongoing practice, however, becomes increasingly enjoyable because it delivers a deep qualitative change. This process is not designed to merely cope with problems. Potentiating Arts, Action Inquiry and similar spiritual programs offer a permanent solution. If I learn to clearly identify my part in problematic situations and relationships, my need to fix or fight anything or anyone diminishes. As I learn to own my problems, I can also learn to let them go. Then, I will transmit my freedom to others. No one has to change in order for me to feel better. Circumstances don’t have to change in order for a leader to feel strong and share this inner strength with subordinate employees.

Spiritual Architecture

It can be said that the company already potentially exists in its creator’s mind. It has some shape in the world of potentiality long before the entrepreneurial efforts manifest in physical reality. Mark McCaslin’s study of potentiating arts further supports the importance of such an understanding because it helps the emerging leaders claim their co-creative roles at the earliest possible stage of enterprise conception.

Bill Torbert describes the stages of development and the interplay of spiritual, structural and financial needs of the emerging company.  Torbert stresses upon the importance of spiritual capital; next in priority is structural resource; and financial, while important, might not even be necessary in some cases. Torbert notes that many people entertain the idea of going into one’s own business, naïvely assuming that finances are the only key for success.  The importance of spiritual vision is often underplayed since in people’s minds spirituality does not readily connect with the harsh realities of the business world.

Creativity of an entrepreneurial leader-architect may be motivated by a vision of how people can be helped, how human pain can be eased, how freedom can be enhanced or quality of life improved. These values exist in a potential domain or spiritual realm, independent of personal preferences and limitations of personalities, who turn their ideas into business ventures. Entrepreneurs, carrying such spiritual concepts, become change agents, channels for transformation and vehicles for the betterment of life.

Merging Thought and Action: “Action Inquiry”

Lack of spiritual depth in entrepreneurial vision prohibits more fruitful and joyful development of business, and makes it riskier. This is where mental maps become a useful component. If we assume that the company exists in potentiality, we can try to draw its “thought form”. Similar to how architects draft a picture of a building, which they must envision first, entrepreneurial leaders can draft a mental map of a company. Everything manifests out of thought forms. Inspirations drive mental pictures from inner to outer worlds. A true craft of entrepreneurial leadership is to align spiritual faculties with a manifested world, just as, an architect and construction worker align their work process in order to make sure that buildings manifest both an artistic value and safe shelter for future residents.

Integration of soul and business uncovers the realm of potentiality with its limitless number of pre-selected actions. This idea is introduced within the “Economy of Movement” section of our course. Spiritual Architecture offers an intelligent journey into the infinite potential of our souls. We don’t have to act blindly any longer. By navigating the pre-packaged options and selecting our course of action, we merge thought and deed. We draft a mental template of our enterprise. To this end, I’d like to offer another quote from my communications with Mark McCaslin. This quote helps me to challenge the hesitance in a rationally-minded leader who seeks to understand the relevance of spirituality in business: “…I can help you locate your top line and by doing so elevate your bottom line”.

Leaders – Potentiators are never driven by the bottom line. It is the economy of scarcity that expects to elevate the top by looking down. Therefore it stays limited. Spiritual architects are firmly grounded through structural roots of the enterprise, but their vision is attracted by the abundance of freedom and beauty. They are not concerned with fixing every drop of the ocean. They hope to purify the water by reaching the horizon where the ocean meets the freedom of the sky.

Spiritual Intelligence in Business Leadership

We helped numerous business executives go through the entrepreneurial process and build a company from scratch by intuitively following the steps described in this article.  The effectiveness of our work increased as our ability to verbalize these steps developed. The application of spiritual intelligence in business helped us and our clients become more aware of priorities in creating a new enterprise. To this end, we often refer to the business consulting experiences and spiritually guided MBA teachings of Bill Torbert, described in his numerous books and publications.

Torbert outlines a structure for an enterprise as a priority, second to a spiritual vision of an emerging company. Structural components support endurance during the time of formation. Investment is the last factor because money can only buy, money does not create. It is certainly better to be with money than without money. But having money and having no solid idea is less hopeful than having little money with a solid idea and a creative strength, necessary to loyally pursue what one believes, despite stereotypical prejudice towards changes (Torbert, 1987, 2004). It takes a set of spiritual qualities for an entrepreneurial leader to sustain within the pressures of change. It takes endurance; it takes strength and faith to keep doing something that society ridicules because it may be something novel with which people have no prior experience. Training of spiritual intelligence helps emerging entrepreneurial leaders face challenges of the unknown. After all, intellect is our gift if we recognize its limitations and employ its strength.

As entrepreneurial consultants, we help Russian business executives and professionals learn about the efforts, risks and benefits, involved in exploring a new business territory. Our clients have to navigate within a different culture. They need to learn a new language and adjust to an unfamiliar environment. Newcomers tend to underestimate what novices they are to the full-spectrum of the American lifestyle. Their intelligence needs development; otherwise they would not be called “newcomers”.

From the developmental perspective, our clients literally mature through the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Their “newborn” business entity needs to survive through the infancy, secure its market niche, break even, affiliate with other businesses, self-actualize and potentially prosper in a new country.  Mark McCaslin refers to this process as a flow of inspiration, innovation and implementation (McCaslin, 2013). New companies must identify and build their own “quality of the American dream”, paying dues and enjoying the rewards it entails.

Paradoxically, the very notion of the “American Dream” attracts foreign entrepreneurs, as well as becomes their greatest impediment. More specifically, some seem not as ready for freedom as they like to claim.  Many of our clients are unwilling to learn anything beyond that which they already know.  These emerging entrepreneurs are, unconsciously, longing for something more. However, consciously they interpret this longing as “more money”. Under the slogans of “American Freedom” and “International Enterprise” they demand “more control”.  How can we, as entrepreneurial coaches, help these people learn? These are major issues we deal with in our daily business.  The majority learns through their own experiences, trial and error, and only a few most intuitively perceptive leaders are willing to utilize experiences of those who already made stereotypical errors. As professional guides, we assess the potential of our leadership clients and set the best possible technique that can help these leaders. We utilize our spiritual intelligence as guides. We meet our students where there are at, building on their strengths, letting them make their share of mistakes and guiding their trial and error process with reason, intuition and “ruthless compassion” when necessary.

In his “Managing the Corporate Dream”, Bill Torbert notes that many successful entrepreneurial leaders, when looking back at the sacrifice that had to be experienced before the enterprise began to bloom, are not sure if they would be able or willing to repeat that experience. I can sign my name under this statement.


Many citizens and companies from other countries view American society as an example of cultural unity.  Regardless of the recent economic crisis, America still attracts foreign leaders seeking that original spirit, upon which this country was built. This foundation cannot be destroyed by an economic deficit, stock market crash or even a national debt. It is always easy to think that our local problems are overwhelming. It may not be as habitual to trust that our potential goodness and strength of collective spirit is greater than economic downfalls.

Contemporary Russia still holds a great promise as a business partner for the United States. Most leaders recognize that neither weapons nor silent hatred ever achieved anything. Russia becomes more integrated professionally, ecologically and psychologically into the global village. What can help the United States and Russia grow as allies? It is us: people who interact, who create companies, community groups, or joint ventures. Individual people learn from one another and grow together regardless of the political winds. We cannot and we don’t have to depend on distribution of old resources. Political debates over re-distribution of what is already created never achieved anything anyway. As this article describes, history holds firm evidence of that.

Spiritually empowered leadership provides the solution to world economic problems, wars, collective sufferings, pain and hopelessness. We can create new economic wealth by recovering the wealth of our collective soul. In sharing our experiences, we learn to invest our hearts in renewal of the American Dream and its significance for humans who strive to be free, happy and joyful. We learn to invest our hopes in the economy of abundance and we create new resources. For the entrepreneurial leadership community this manifests in creation of new companies, new collective business opportunities and new jobs for individuals.

In this renewed sight, we powerfully emanate faith as leaders and guides. Collectively, we keep growing and sharing our experiences. By putting gratitude into action, we continue to practice the shift from deficiency to abundance. We pass forward our deep sense of knowing that everything is fundamentally Okay, which translates into hope for those still searching. We do not apologize for relying on our faith in goodness to those who attempt to ridicule our hopes. We disengage our thoughts and actions from anything less than peaceful and our shared effort will help those who still struggle. If we continue to practice and build upon our strength, we will create and increase a community of leaders, who will be capable of making unprecedented difference in the world.


McCaslin, M (2013). Personal Email Communication. May – July , 2013

McCaslin, M., & Flora, J. (2013). Living, Learning, and Leading within the Integral Space: Energizing Integral Leadership through Experiential Learning. Integral Leadership Review, March 2013. Retrieved from

Rooke, D., & Torbert, W. R. (2005). Seven Transformations of Leadership. Harvard Business Review, April 2005. Retrieved from

Torbert, B. (2004). Action Inquiry, the Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership (First ed.). San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Torbert, W. R. (1987). Managing the Corporate Dream. Homewood, Illinois: Dow Jones-Irwin.

Wilber, K. (2000b). A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality. Boston, Massachusetts: Shambhala Publications, Inc.

About the Author

Alla Ratner was inspired to study consciousness and transpersonal psychology as a compliment to her twenty-year business leadership career in the United States. Her current scientific inquiry into the wealth of spiritual wisdom is creatively integrated into her own entrepreneurial experience as an American small business owner.

Prior to migrating in 1989, Alla completed her third year at the St. Petersburg National Conservatory of Music with a specialization in Harp. Upon arrival in the United States, she worked with such organizations as the Columbia University Health Promotion Project and the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society in New York City. Alla Ratner earned an accounting degree Summa Cum Laude from the Long Island University of Business and Public Administration, while concurrently establishing and operating her own company. Her business involved helping Russian scientists, academics and entrepreneurs to continue their professional careers in the United States.

In 2009, Alla formed a Russian-American research group which studied macro economy of emerging markets from psycho-spiritual perspectives. In 2012, she co-authored a book, From Shadow Economy to Shadow Society. The book discussed the “hidden games” of collective consciousness which make corruption so dangerously invincible to governmental control in all countries.

Alla Ratner’s current professional activities revolve around a desire to guide others on how to emerge from the shadow by using her skills as a psychologically and spiritually trained business entrepreneur. She currently operates a coaching company, Leadership Research Center, established to guide Russian-American small businesses in the development of full-spectrum leadership.


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