By Robin van den Maagdenberg. Photography by Steef Fleur
I have always moved between two extremities. On the one hand that of the intellect and ambition, on the other I wanted to let my heart speak, to take things as they come and be sure that the direction I was going felt right for me. The ambitious, rational side prevailed for quite some time. Emotions were a thin thread that ran through everything, but things have changed and that thread became more important to me. A few years ago I went traveling on my own. The quietude enabled me to think for myself for the first time. I started to question all the ideas I had regarding a meaningful life. It became clear that the ‘extremities’ are not mutually exclusive, that it’s not a matter of choosing one or the other—and that my rational side had recieved quite enough attention. I created space for another part of myself.
I have become a participant in my own life again, no longer a spectator.
The journey inwards also led me to Your Lab’s Leadership Program. A year in which many subconscious patterns became apparent. Ironically, my ambitious side was also stimulated in the process. I was very eager to be done with every subconscious issue, once and for all. That was very insightful regarding my perfectionism, always wanting to do things better, differently. In fact I was always postponing the moment I could feel content. Now I’m able to live with the fact that my efforts might have minimal effects. I have more appreciation for the process itself, it’s not merely the end results that count.
Due to that I have become a participant in my own life again, no longer a spectator.
As a Law student, I was attracted to Criminal Law. The question why someone commits a criminal offence fascinated me. What makes someone commit an awful crime? What is hidden behind a person’s façade? Oftentimes a long history led up to it. I’ve never wanted to become a psychologist, but I’ve always taken a great interest in psychology, especially where it plays an important part, but tends to be overlooked.
This year, I found out that everything the outside world shows me is a reflection of my inner world. So if I am aware of my own dynamics, all relationships and interactions change accordingly. Our interactions are linked, my own reactions are never really separate from others’, but the change begins with me. For me, leadership is: actions motivated by inner necessity, not as a reaction to the external world. This requires mindfulness and openness of a leader.
Sometimes I wonder: should we always be making new things? Or can we view existing things afresh?
I work at ABN Amro’s Innovation Centre. Here also, I see clearly that people’s behaviour, and the underlying desires, strongly influence how we shape the world together. Technological Innovation is about change, innovation. But sometimes I wonder: should we always be making new things? Or can we view existing things afresh? The world changes rapidly, but people’s needs are rather constant. We all have the desire to be seen and heard, and many of our actions are a result of that. That doesn’t change. Before we can think about innovating the external world, we must try to understand our own nature. Technology will only be of any help to us if we know what our desires are, where they come from and whether they serve us. Are we creating something that’s an asset to society or to our lives? Or are we just always on a quest for novelty, without any awareness of where we came from, how that determines where we’re going and where we are now? On such a journey you might never reach any destination.
Our new Year programme starts in May 2019. Further information can be found here.