R. J. Koret – April 9th, 2019
I had a chance to catch up with Loes Fokker, Founder and CEO of Legacy Mentors, a mentorship firm serving family offices, after two decades of clinical psychology and coaching C-level executives. She agreed to share the emotions surrounding her upcoming birthday and discuss its potential significance for her Family Office clientele.
Hello there, Loes. I understand you will soon be turning 40! Many people consider this round number to be a scary milestone. Why are you embracing it publicly?
I know some consider this number to be a terrifying sign of aging, but when I look in the mirror, I feel I am still fresh and sexy. Perhaps a bit naively!
No, you look timeless! Have you changed your essential character in the last 20 years?
It still amazes me to hear myself say “20 years ago, when I started to work as a psychologist…” How can that person of two decades ago be the same as the one I feel inside me today? But I know there is something in common with my two 20-year-apart selves, and it is rooted in my emotionally-attuned nature.
Seriously, with the appearance of my first white hairs, I decided to embrace this milestone of middle age gracefully and purposefully. I want to use it to acknowledge a turning point in my own life’s journey with the formation of Legacy Mentors. It’s a conscious decision to take my personal journey and apply these lessons to help support others with hope and courage to live the lives they’ve always dreamed about. The other mentors and I are helping affluent families to cultivate meaning and value in their lives, and not just in terms of their wealth, which is something that brings me great fulfillment.
That’s an ambitious and optimistic goal. What makes you think you can succeed?
In psychological theories of the development of self, of ego, whether from Freud, or Jung or all their successors and detractors, there’s one thing in common. When we trace the growth of consciousness over a human’s lifetime, with all its natural transformations of perspective on themes like success, love, change and impact, emotions serve a profound function.
I have always imagined that it is possible to bring the inner wisdoms I have drawn from in life into my professional activities. But I have also learned that our imaginations can work for or against us depending on our levels of consciousness.
The same with emotions! The challenge is to harness those observations and to use them in intelligent ways to achieve positives outcomes in life, business, and family.
How do you translate this personal milestone into guiding positive change for other people?
Every business transaction is grounded in a human one. And every human behavior is grounded in layers of more or less conscious emotions. We can decide to ignore those motivating feelings, shuffle them away, and pretend they don’t exist. But they will influence us, positively or negatively, whether we like it or not. We just won’t see what is guiding our decisions.
Or, on the other hand, we can be curious, learn to decipher the messages within, filter and strategise according to what we discover in ourselves, then choose to live a more conscious and predictable business and life, under our conscious steering.
For example, I am turning 40 and I choose to consciously overwrite any potential negative emotions about my age with a positive, constructive and joyful approach to it. I am embracing the change, celebrating this personal milestone and using it professionally to help clients and colleagues master their own emotions to improve their personal and professional outcomes. I am taking what I’ve learned throughout my life, and helping others look within and learn how to live the lives they have always dreamed of living.
Do you think that in business people really think this way? Aren’t they more driven by the bottom line and short-term, tangible issues?
How many times have I heard people say about a colleague something that relates to their emotional capabilities? A CEO was thinking about his successor and he told me: “He has all the credentials and skills, the vision and strategic insights. If only he could learn to open to emotions and replace his judgements with more sensitivity for others….” I hear this over and over again, especially from people who have learned these lessons and succeeded as a result
Emotions are our most influential teachers and inspirations. It’s when we truly hear our deepest emotions in their truest expression, after all our judgements and illusions of a formerly perceived reality have fallen away. It’s precisely then that we grow and so does our impact in the world.
What about Family Offices, what are the differences there?
Well, I have worked mainly with high performing executive teams. In intimate settings, management teams are able to share their deepest fears, deep-seated anger, and paralyzing blockages. But it is also then that they reveal their passions and present their visionary dreams of an ideal world or, at least, an improved organization or work environment. The same is true within a family dynamic, or even within an individual.
The more they get in touch and knowledgeable they become of the emotional and aspirational depths of themselves, their families, and their businesses, the more they are able to envision, and then create, new relations and really new worlds shared with those around them.
The returns are not only in financial prosperity, but measurable in the deeper sense of that word: deep happiness, meaningful contribution and sustained contentment.
What’s the source of your belief that you can translate your experiences, learnings, and emotions into a structured programme?
It must be my father’s endless optimism and love for life. He said that in every experience, no matter how painful, there is beauty and wisdom to be found. His stubborn trust and positivism is the greatest and most long-lasting gift he could have granted me.
I have seen results, over the last 20 years, in enabling transformational work to achieve greater practical success. The benefits have clearly led to more positivity in translating problems into solutions. Change is a constant in life. It can bring pain and discomfort at first, but we need to learn to go with the flow in trust and personal clarity. We need to know that the unknown, the uncertain, is also filled with chances for growth. We can take delight in each new journey! Each moment of our precious lives comes one by one.
What is your personal goal in the next 20 years?
For me, it’s all about bringing more meaning into people’s lives, teaching how awareness and mastery of our deep emotional signals can really add profound value to our personal and professional experiences. If I can use my knowledge of the inner journey to help others fulfill their potentials, and achieve the impacts they desire, then I will be fulfilling my own life’s dream. I envision a new global culture in which people approach leadership from a place of deep inspiration and connection to others. It may take another 20 years to attain all my goals to the very ambitious scale of my dreams, but that’s a lot of time!
R.J. Koret is an author, editor, and entrepreneur with a passion for exotic travel, disruptive startups, and Freudian slips.