A successful hedge fund manager friend was frantic when his trades went bad at the end of 2011. He went to see Andrew Wallas, aka The Modern Day Wizard, for a session and was amazed how quickly he recovered his financial position. Rather than pouring over data, P&L and strategy, Andrew had him standing on different coloured blankets, walking around the room and unravelling his relationship with his father. My friend explained that while all the management consultants and advisers he had seen over the years focused on core planning and turning negatives into positives, this guy was only interested in exploring why and how my friend was creating his crisis.
Andrew Wallas is an ex-City financier who had a spiritual epiphany in his late 20s and then trained as a psychotherapist – he now has 30 years experience in various types of body work (from energy fields to spiritual realignment), Gestalt (the essence of the whole), constellation work (family dynamics), breathing work and ancestral work, as well as psychotherapy, of course. He sees both individuals and companies, for whom he looks at the internal dynamics and the energy flow of business.
His approach may seem unorthodox, but he believes that the way to achieve true success in business is to connect and align the head and the heart. In his view, the mind is essentially a masculine energy, with insight, focus and resilience; whereas the heart is a feminine energy, with inner wisdom and creativity. He makes it his business to combine these two different aspects.
I may have road-tested virtually every conceivable beauty and fitness treatment, but I have never laid myself spiritually bare in the way that a session with Andrew demands. But as my same hedge fund friend said: “Get your mind straight and the rest will follow...”
I’m in a picturesque village outside Henley-on-Thames thinking of an excuse to use to turn around and hightail it back to town. It is with trepidation and curiosity that I ring the doorbell.
The door creeks open to reveal a 50-something man sporting a purple cashmere jumper, a Patek Philippe watch and cords. He shows me into a room flooded with light. It has vaulted ceilings, Buddha statues and a circle of kilim cushions – and is instantly relaxing.
We sit in the stillness for a moment then begin to chat about my life. Andrew asks me a variety of questions about where I am from, my relationship history, what I do for a living, my career highs and lows, and what I do to relax. His questions are provocative, requiring me to look at things from a different point of view. He suggests that, perhaps, I may have been responsible for the demise of certain relationships and we discuss what role I might have played in the destruction process. Not only does he listen to every word, he looks at me intently, too, picking up on every gesture and movement.
He tells me that I have an “overwhelmingly masculine energy”. Thrown, I ask him what he means. I find myself nervously flicking my hair. “Inauthentic masculine energy is a ‘doing’ energy,” he explains. “It is where we are running, pushing, striving. It is frenetic and exhausting. It is aggressive and all about control. Many independent career women – and business men, for that matter – are functioning on an inauthentic masculine energy.”
He asks me to put my hand on my heart and imagine breathing into it. He takes me on a guided visualisation, where we picture my breath expanding my heart and encouraging it to open. He then tells me that we are going to ask my heart a question – the only requirement is that I wait for any response to bubble up.
I sceptically think that it sounds like psychobabble, and yet, when prompted by Andrew to ask what I most want to explore in myself at this moment, I find that the answer comes easily and clearly. I want to find that feminine side of my business character I feel I have lost. I can see that the successful independent life I have worked so hard to create for myself is all about being ambitious and competitive. Andrew is right: it is relentless and exhausting. I want to crumple up on the floor and lie there.
Andrew tells me that while I have experienced business success there remains an inner emptiness and dissatisfaction, because the success “does not land”. I have an “inability to receive”, he tells me, and goes on to explain that therefore, although I can make things happen, I never feel satisfied.
“I have known many people who have amassed millions through successful business activities,” he says. “However, the individuals often never feel they have ‘enough’, nor are they able to celebrate success. This is because their drive has itself become an addiction.” He goes on to say that this driving force is based upon an irrational need and desire to be in control. “There is no element of freedom, and so this approach can never lead to satisfaction,” he says.
Andrew explains that there are in essence two separate areas when it comes to success. The first, achievement, is concerned with the outer world. It is about one’s career, purpose, ambition and meaning. The second aspect, fulfilment, is concerned with our inner world. It is about love, connection, wholeness – a sense of being at peace with ourselves. “Achievement without fulfilment is empty and becomes meaningless, while fulfilment without achievement is unsatisfying and a wasted opportunity.”
In addition, he points out that at various times in my life, when I have been on the verge of major success, it’s likely that something within me has undermined the outcome at the last minute. This, he reassures me, is the common inner saboteur at work.
“Often we don’t allow ourselves to have what we desire,” he says. “This is our inner saboteur. We chase but never obtain our desires because there is an unconscious belief – and fear – that if we get what we want, then life will either have no meaning or that it will somehow be boring.”
What course of action for the masculine self-saboteur who can’t celebrate success? Check back on Tuesday January 8 to read Part Two.