The Institute for Compassionate Leadership serves to empower socially conscious, self-aware and compassionate leaders by educating aspiring change-makers in meditation, community organizing, and 21st century leadership skills built for today's workplace environment. We aim to make our practices accessible to all, so that more compassionate leaders will rise up to meet worldwide challenges and strive to shape a better and brighter future for our planet.
“We don’t have a lot of time…But in the same way that Alex left this indelible mark on my life and Michelle’s life, and many of your lives, you will leave an indelible mark as well, as long as you decide that you’re going to spend your life giving something back.”
The Institute for Compassionate Leadership was founded after the passing of Alex Okrent, a pioneer in creating social change through his ability to love and be compassionate. As Mark Leibovich wrote in his heart-felt New York Times article,
“Alex signed on early to the Obama cause, taking a semester off from Wesleyan University to work on Obama’s Senate run in 2004. He was among the first to join Obama’s presidential campaign in its barest days in 2007 and also threw himself into the re-election effort in 2012. He worked various jobs, bounced from state to state and offered a convivial presence that bridged the cliques that form inevitably in campaigns…He was demanding, fun and irreverent. And he was never shy about telling people that he loved them.”
The Institute of Compassionate Leadership was born out of the idea that the world needs more leaders like Alex. The institute is founded by one of Alex’s friends from college, Lodro Rinzler, who upon Alex’s passing dropped everything to carry on his friend’s work on the campaign trail in 2012.
After returning from his campaign work in the state of Ohio, Lodro met with a wide variety of compassionate leaders. A dialogue began about how to support people in getting inspired not just by the next political candidate but focused on an issue they care about for the rest of their lives. Minutes after the January 13th speech by President Obama quoted above, the idea for this institute arose in Lodro’s mind and he set to work making it a reality.
The Institute began as a six-month leadership training program and we are proud that dozens of individuals have graduated from that program, transformed into more compassionate leaders who are doing the work they have longed to do. In order to make our curriculum as accessible as possible, the Executive Director and Board decided to bring the teachings online, and the revised version of this site was born.
Though you can listen to the talks individually, we recommend going in order and allowing yourself to build skills as you go. No need to rush through them. Take some time to let each one sink in. In the original program, participants would go through one of these each week.
Community support is invaluable when working toward inner change as well as social change. We recommend bringing together a small group of 4-8 friends that you will engage the series of talks with together. At the onset of diving into the collected talks, you can set norms for the group: rules that you all agree to, such as deeply listening to one another, confidentiality, shutting off your phones during meetings, and staying attuned to who is speaking too much or who might need encouragement and space to speak.
Once the norms are agreed upon, you can meet once a week at a consistent time and place (even if the place is an online forum like Skype).
How to start
Whether you are going through the program solo (totally okay!) or doing it with a group we recommend going through the talks in the following format:
Meditate together: 15 minutes
Check-in: 1-2 minutes per person
Listen to the talk: 20-30 minutes
Open up discussion: 15 minutes
For the meditation section - people may come to the training with their own meditation practice and they are welcome to do that during this time. If someone is new to meditation the talk offering instruction should be played first/repeated as needed so they learn a basic mindfulness practice.
For the check-in section - One person can facilitate, asking each person present to do one to two minutes on the topics “How are you feeling as you enter this class?” and “What is one instance in which you were able to apply last week’s talk to your everyday life?”
During the closing discussion it’s important to emphasize how the particular topic is relevant to your everyday life. These are not theoretical ideas being presented, but tools for more compassionate living.
For classes that have homework, it's helpful for everyone to have a peer accountability buddy, someone they text or email everyday to ask how the homework is going and confirm/encourage that they maintain a daily meditation practice.
In any group there is attrition, so if you lose one or two friends to the busyness of everyday life do not despair. If you have a steady group going through these teachings we would love to hear about it and our founder, Lodro Rinzler, is always happy to hop on a call with you halfway through the curriculum to answer any questions you may have free of charge.
Previous cohorts at the Institute for Compassionate Leadership worked one-on-one with executive coaches. This practice can help to create clarity and accountability. We recommend the coaches listed below, as they are most familiar with the ICL curriculum.
Michael Carroll www.awakeatwork.net firstname.lastname@example.org
Hylke Faber www.growthleadersnetwork.org email@example.com
Adreanna Limbach www.adreannalimbach.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Ellen Carton email@example.com
James Ruberg firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Zigarmi email@example.com