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"Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself.
It is precisely that simple and also that difficult.”

– Warren Bennis

The Argonauts’ Proposal: Trust Circles Leading to a New Destination

27 May 2020

Part 4 of An Open Invitation to a Conversation on Transformational Leadership

Read part 1: Missing Conversations: Why Trust Erodes and Meaning Disappears

Read part 2: Call of the Wild: Disrupting the Status Quo for a New Mindset

Read part 3: The Argosophy: The Foundation for a New Conversation Among Leaders

Written by Stefan Beiten

Stefan Beiten is initiator of The Argonauts.
He is a lawyer, international entrepreneur and investor, with more than 20 years of experience, Stefan is an expert in the development of successful teams and growth-promoting cultures, both with in-house and foreign companies.
Connect with him on Linkedin


In this final part, I come full circle to detail the significance of The Argonauts as a leader-driven force for transformation in the world, starting with changing oneself. I describe the conversation-driven method of the organization and the tools it brings to strengthen its members and build lasting bonds among them. I discuss this leadership network as the realization of a transformation mindset that many great thinkers have described as essential to bringing humanity to a higher level of consciousness, just in time. I ask:

  • Can egocentric, transactional values be alchemized into ecocentric, holistic ones?
  • How does the methodology of Trust Circles help accomplish the Argonauts mission?
  • What are impact investments in the current context and how can they be realized?
  • Has the current crisis, and the pause it engendered, brought us to a new renaissance?

The Foundation of a Trust Circle


he Argonauts community has developed an ecosystem, tools, and processes to bring cultivation of courageous leadership into practice, in a sustainable and scalable way. Committed and diverse peers — from around the globe and across all fields of endeavor — find a safe place of trust and respect, common values, and principles. At its core, members are nurtured by authentic, non-judgmental, human conversations in their Trust Circles, online and offline. Virtual encounters are complemented by physical meetings in places of beauty and wonder around the world. Additionally, the community provides its members with a robust toolset of assessments and exercises, thought-provoking content, and hands-on practices for disruptive yet constructive change in their lives and businesses.

The results of these efforts are new experiences and relationships which transcend the learning limits of leadership training models. Trust Circle dialogues are professionally facilitated with curated content by The Argonauts community’s experts and coaches. They go way beyond the social scripts of transactional exchanges, fostering the development of transformative thinking and building muscles for uncovering authentic versions of ourselves. In an age where reflection is rare and information overload is the norm, Trust Circle conversations cut through the noise and reach harmonies of who we are at our human core. Leaders achieve lucidity,” as German-Swiss psychologist and Argonauts thought leader Dr. Dirk de Sousa calls this state of consciousness, one which every human can learn.

Harvard Graduate School of Education psychologists Dr. Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey explain, in How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work, that most individuals and organizations are immune to deep and lasting change. The only way to overcome an organization’s immunity to change, they argue, begins within leaders. It requires opening emotionally to others and learning to express a new language of adaptive change which transforms the leader first and then spreads outward, not downward, to the organization.

The underlying methodology of The Argonauts’ Trust Circles works in such a way that transformational experiences are created, building trust, becoming sustainable — conversation by conversation, Circle by Circle, eventually encompassing the whole. It harmonizes the emotional with the rational, the problem-solving consciousness with the creative unconscious state of mind, the Apollonian with the Dionysian. With this harmonization, leaders are empowered to move from a competition paradigm as the main driving factor to a paradigm of trust-based cooperation and the pursuit of aliveness, leading from within.

Rediscovery and Retrieval of our “Missing Conversations”

The Argonauts help us rediscover and retrieve the “missing conversations” within ourselves, sharing those discoveries and experiences with trusted others. Our members’ guided journeys with their trusted peers from one Trust Circle session to the next prepares them to share their deepest concerns and challenges and form long-lasting relationships, understanding the power that comes from communicating with vulnerability and listening with the heart.

This is what we Argonauts mean by “courageous leaders”: it takes a strong heart to confront one’s demons and dragons. Once our members accept this challenge and cross the chasm, they become better equipped to lead with authority and authenticity, acting with transparency and integrity. They exert lasting and constructive impact on their organizations and the wider world, leading by example. These strengthened leaders become role models and inspirations to peers and the next generation of leaders, within and beyond their own organizations.

The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.

Tony Robbins

Argonauts come to understand that, as Tony Robbins said, “The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.” That resilience and self-esteem is directly correlated with your success in and through conversations with others and in personal soul-searching, assimilating your own story, your own Meaning, your own self-developed WHY. “I become through my relation to the Thou,” as Martin Buber put it. “As I become I, I say Thou. All real living is meeting.”

Having a different conversation

Through Trust Circle conversations, living meetings of sharp, clear minds, your own mindfulness and individual identity grows stronger, and with it the quality of your leadership. And your life. Lao Tzu gave us this eternal wisdom: “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” We Argonauts say, humbly: “It all starts by having a different conversation.”

This new conversation disrupts the old way of thinking in a concrete and constructive manner. It changes attitudes, leading to different behaviour and positive outcomes on the WHAT level, while creating a new WHY paradigm. We now have a chance to finally evolve, away from the old mechanistic model of Descartes  – “I think, therefore I am” – to a new view of the world, centered on mutual responsibility in human and natural relations: “We think and feel in harmony, therefore we are” view of the world. With that disruptive paradigm in mind, we can bring a harmonic life back to our families, organizations, and societies, inspiring them and ourselves to be, and feel, together, fully alive.

We think and feel in harmony, therefore we are”

All spiritual cultures knew that the key to self-awareness, the WHY of human aliveness, can only be found in a state beyond the blinders of the ego, beyond our narcissism. The Greeks called this state “ékstasis” and built their spiritual worldview around this core, the “flow state” described by Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler in Stealing Fire. It is within such a state, as Rumi believed, that “love awakens and the ego dies, the dark despot.”

Refinding old wisdom

With the shutdown of the Delphi sanctuary at the end of the 4th century by decree of Roman emperor Theodosius, this ancient old wisdom slowly vanished. Humanity was left with scraps and fragments to feed the scarcity from which human society suffered. We have never fully recovered. In many ways, we have regressed. But when we start to consciously confront this tyrant, we become nurtured by the abundance of life, the ecstatic experience of living fully, in growing harmony with nature. Only periodically throughout history, and in isolated cultures, did a renaissance erupt, triggering a flourishing of thought and feelings, however fleeting.

In traditional cultures, where that sacred core of ecstatic vitality was preserved, it was the responsibility of the Shaman to hold a trusted, safe space. This traditional priest and therapist was the master of ceremonies who allowed the conversational journey of initiates, one with the other and through that, to the deeper levels of life and then out again. To impact positively the tribe, the culture, the planet. The time for a new renaissance is long overdue.

Parker J. Palmer, in A Hidden Wholeness, writes of the “circles of trust” he experienced as a Quaker. He calls them a rare form of community … that supports rather than supplants the individual quest for integrity.” As our modern civilization finds itself humbled, and tumbled, by the impact of a microscopic virus, we should take courage and heart that, all over a slowed if not stilled world, from diverse traditions, humanity is awakening to a new dialogue – more correctly a multilogue – in the Argonaut’s Circles of Trust we together explore and discover a new significance of fulfillment, and renewed sources of joy, in our lives.

The way forward

With an impact investment of human capital, we transform from a fear and scarcity based, ego-centric, mechanistic, transactional thinking to an ecocentric, holistic conception of ourselves and our planet, founded on trust and abundance. This investment is based on the recognition that our problem is with distribution, not resources. This investment in human capital uncovers the WHY that lets us live with gratitude in the present, the here and now, rather than wait for the possibility of something better in a distant future or promised redemption in the afterlife.

As we begin to emerge again from physical and spiritual lockdown — amid threats of restrictions on our liberties of expression, assembly and movement — we realize that this investment and shared experience could form the basis for a resurgent freedom of thought, a disruptive renaissance of WHY rooted in a renewed consciousness. This imperative transcends nations, ideologies, and religions. The need is to “Make Meaning Strong Again” and thus become, individually and collectively, fully alive.

We Argonauts are resurrecting a never-ending story, bringing to renewed life an ancient prototype set in motion long before each of us was conceived. It is being resumed in a series of conversations, a multilogue, a collective narrative to be re-initiated, each time in a different permutation, by Circles of Trust. These encounters foster — by virtue of our sense of mutual vulnerability — the potential for mental disruption, spiritual healing, and social reconstruction that integrate our lives and the planet we inhabit.

If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I?”

Rabbi Hillel

That is the investment we make, with lasting impact, in ourselves, our societies, our world. The great Jewish sage, Rabbi Hillel, asks: “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I?” Our investment seeks to bridge the generations, supply the missing conversations in our lives, as individuals and as citizens, members of diverse faiths, ideologies, and nations, fellow mortals, inhabitants all of the fragile Earth.

We Argonauts ask, in a spirit of being fully alive, WHO are we serving? Do we as leaders have the courage to affirm the renaissance of a life of abundance, harmony, and diversity amid profound uncertainty and disruption? This is an invitation to engage in a discussion, long overdue, about WHY we are on this planet and HOW we can cultivate a better future, cooperatively and courageously. It all starts with a wake-up call — resounding through the ages, especially in times like these — with another question, awaiting your response, another missing conversation awaiting completion: if not now, WHEN?

Berlin, May 2020

Stefan Beiten

You are invited to the Argonauts conversation. If you have something to say, we would like to hear it, either in short-form or long-form, in writing or in your voice or video. Write to us at feedback@The-Argonauts.com and tell us what’s in your heart and on your mind.

Interested in joining a different conversation? Learn more about The Argonauts and Membership by   contacting us here. 

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