1/18 – Gaining Maturity on the Path (Notes from the Russian Fields)

Lev Gordon

Lev Gordon

Photo Lev Gordon Russian

Last two months I was going through an interesting period, which was over yesterday… On November 12 I turned 42 (an age often referred to as “middle age crisis”) and so it seems that a month before and a month after were some sort of cutting ties with the past and searching for new clarity, crystallizing new vision of the future and my role in it.

I would not say that it was easy as life was testing me in various ways. Occasionally the intensity of processes was exceptional, old relations and reference points were disappearing, while the new ones were not yet in sight—and all throughout this period it felt rough. Still, thanks to inner practice all this did not turn into a devastating experience but rather was like watching an interesting movie…

(“That’s a clear benefit from inner contemplative practices and mindful work with circumstances”—these thoughts went through my mind as I was writing the above.)

…while constructive attitude and trust in life’s wisdom unquestionably provided support in transforming complex situations and tricky relations into the steps of inner growth and gaining more freedom, power and maturity. I feel profound gratitude towards everyone who has been part of this rich period of my life!

So, what have I discovered within myself and “out in the world”?

What were my conclusions?

What is my vision of the future?


  • I will focus 100% on sincere, authentic living for as long as I breathe: this includes promoting personal and public good, making no compromises with conscience, holding inner integrity as far more important than any external benefits or results;
  • purposeful transition to an integral, intuitive, direct knowing of the world; going beyond rational thinking; trusting my soul and my heart with choosing my path while also using the power of deep-seated intelligence;
  • I will learn to build direct, transparent, fearless relations with every person in my life, relations that are built out of respect towards that person’s interests and her higher Self as well as out of awareness of natural possibilities and limitations of particular circumstances; I choose to no longer use any form of indirect violence or manipulation of another person towards my personal benefit;
  • my #1 priority becomes development of the state of Knowledge within myself as well as supporting those who are interested in unlocking their full potential;
  • my limited time and energy I will also invest in supporting what naturally moves along the path of individual and collective evolution; in doing so I will cooperate and join company with people who possess comparable values and worldview, while remaining open to a constructive dialogue and mutual understanding with all people who enter my life;


  • after immersing for years in intensive business and non-for-profit activities, after learning firsthand the real state of affairs and processes on the levels of individuals, communities, organizations, cities, regions and country, I define the situation in all key areas and on all levels as quite complex, full of inertia, inner controversies and barriers that prevent natural harmony and prosperity; all this is not a fault of some particular people, but a natural consequence of a complex invisible net of prior conditions and circumstances, of a mysterious flow of intertwined personal and collective fates that our thinking mind is unable to grasp or fully comprehend;
  • level of conscious awareness and mindfulness (clear cognition of one’s situation in its entirety, understanding the context, seeing trends and evolutionary processes, perceiving interrelations between the taken decisions and their consequences) in the society is extremely low;
  • even people in key positions in private and public sectors generally lack ability to think independently, apply effective decision-making and critical thinking skills, see the whole picture and make decisions that support their personal evolution, promote common good and benefit wellbeing of our ecosystem;
  • the level of energy (a critical factor for real progress) in the society is very low, most people in business, government and society focus their energy on narrow personal goals, survival and enduring unfavorable external conditions;
  • there is no mainstream culture of vertical development, few people recognize the power and necessity of inner transformation as a condition for external breakthroughs, most people meet new challenges with outdated tools and mindset, thus raising failure, stress, insecurity, aggression and depression in the society
  • society severely lacks culture and ability to cooperate, to integrally develop, to trust and enter open dialogue, which is vital for finding new effective ways of thinking, communicating and acting in the 21st century;
  • all of these issues combined make impossible real evolutionary processes that could lead to a higher quality of living and create integral wellbeing of a society.

Most likely, I just realized what everyone around knew all along… well, I am naïve and slow in making conclusions.

I always felt like an optimist, a person with a positive outlook, yet now I simultaneously feel as a pessimist and as an optimist. How is it possible?

Here is the answer: in the short run I saw plentitude of barriers, difficulties and complexities in all areas of life, low levels of mindfulness and awareness among people, inability to cooperate and effectively communicate, achieve real progress; yet I see a high probability of evolution of consciousness and social activities in the 10-20 years time horizon.

As a result, my strategy in the social arena will be to use my limited energy and time to support natural flow of evolution, or, in other words:

  • be in sync with real stage and speed of social evolution, manage processes in the long-run, spread energy for a “marathon distance” of the coming 42 years, for short-term breakthroughs in separate fields do not provide for systemic transformation while taking way too much energy (an image of “pulling a sprout from a frozen soil”)
  • develop in the society the key values, knowledge and competencies, which lay ground for long-term individual and collective evolution—with focus on future generations and inner personal development as foundation for social progress;
  • develop images and examples of higher evolutionary stages;
  • participate in creation and activities of communities of practice, bring together likeminded individuals using my strengths and abilities;
  • allocate time for authentic communication with people on higher level of self-awareness and advanced stages of consciousness evolution, who see communication as a mean for learning, mutual elevation and jointly producing systemic positive changes in selves and the world.

* * *

Now, back to our cities:

All of the above in my perception fully relates to cities, to how they operate and how society lives today, describes their current hopes and obstacles.

Today cities experience a tremendous lack of resources necessary for development, there are few if any leaders able to produce systemic positive change and there are few if any civic communities able to serve as strategic players on a city scale.

There is little understanding of what needs to be done and how.

Yet, time moves on and somebody has to prepare for the future.

Who are these people? No one but us.

As one famous joke goes: “There are no other Soviet writers we could find for you!”

In this situation, developing a new vision for the cities along with the toolbox of practices for its implementation is indispensable.

And we will work on this task—moving with the flow, finding a natural rhythm, enjoying it and producing quality results.

Living cities, a vital, vibrant environment is the most important of what a society and a man could create. Life plays on our side and the transformation of cities, of urban life is as unstoppable as the movement of stars and galaxies. But the speed is much much lower.

Attempts to actively impose change and push for transformations without ripe internal and external preconditions will only lead to depleted energy, frustration and setbacks.

So, isn’t it much wiser to set your ego aside and focus on steady evolutionary activity—moving in sync with your natural abilities and allies, respecting your real life situation, finding gratitude and joy in what is, letting go of stress and tensions, fears and expectations, combining immanent and transcendent, material and spiritual, Sky and Earth… Step by step making the future appear in the now. Keeping our view as vast as the sky, but our actions finer than flour.

About the Author

Lev Gordon is a lifelong student of human condition, communications and leadership.

He graduated with honors from St. Petersburg University of Telecommunications, received Master in European Business from Ecole Nationale Superieure des Telecommunications de Bretagne, Executive MBA in Strategy and Leadership from Columbia Business School, attended executive education programs at Harvard Business School, London Business School and other leading institutions around the world.

After working for 12 years in telecommunications and financial sector on various projects with 35 countries, Lev returned to Russia where he served as president of a private university and later co-founded Association for city development and Forum of Living Cities applying principles of integral development. He is an expert with Russian Parliament, National Agency for Strategic Initiatives and Civic Chamber of Russian Federation.

Lev knows life as a big dream and learns to be in sync with its flow.

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  1. Jeffrey Slayton on January 22, 2016 at 9:53 am

    Concise. Profound. Filled with Potential Energy. Existentially acute. Beautiful. Inspiring.
    Thank you for this visionary summary.

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