An Appreciation of George Kinder, April 2, 2018

My brother, George Kinder, is a map-maker—he has been working on maps to the transformations that we need as individuals and as a world for decades.  I am celebrating his birthday by republishing this analysis of how his life work is contributing to changing the world for the better.

George has been recognized in national publications as one of the 35 most influential people in financial services, one of the top Icons & Innovators in financial planning, and the first of 15 transformational advisors whose vision most changed the industry.  He has revolutionized financial advising over the last thirty years, training over 3000 professionals in 30 countries in the field of Life Planning.

George is a spiritual teacher as well, and although his maps have been designed with financial Life Planners in mind, they have broad applicability. Hundreds of financial planners are now helping clients from all walks of life explore their deep heart’s core, their Golden Room.  The clients are living in, from and for the dreams or callings that they find there.  (A 2016 New York Times article described how people are following the Life Planning map to a meaningful retirement.)  Often these Life Plans contribute directly or indirectly to a healthier family, community or world.

George’s maps can be applied equally well to all facets of our lives and across the spectrum of our developmental lines or multiple intelligences, not just the financial realm.  All his maps lead us through the Golden Room of inner transformation to the transformed culture he calls the Golden Civilization.  Below I will look at the contribution that four of his books make to that movement.

George’s first book was The Seven Stages of Money Maturity: Understanding the Spirit and Value of Money in Your Life.  It traces a path from the innocent beliefs and messages that form our world perspective in childhood through the struggle to break free of the suffering they can cause us later in life.  What was useful at an early developmental stage can be stunting at a later one.

For instance, adages like “A penny saved is a penny earned,” or “A fool and his money are soon parted,” contain wisdom, but with the authority of the parental voice behind them they can keep mature adults from taking the reasonable risks needed to fulfill their callings.

Mindfulness helps us become aware of old beliefs and feel the limitations, anxiety, depression or damage they are causing.  It also helps us become aware of the dreams we long to live that the old messages are making impossible.

George identifies the pivotal moment of the 7 Stages as the Understanding stage.  There we gain the freedom to live with integrity.  We let the old messages go and let the complex feelings they create be.  We find that we can take the step through that mountain pass that has always defeated us before and reach the other side.  We cross over into a Promised Land that flows with vigor and creative energy and that leads in the highest of the 7 Stages to a generous-hearted drive to serve our community and be a blessing to those around us.

George is talking about our relationship with money, or our financial “multiple intelligence,” but the map works for developmental growth along any line.  It frees us from the internal obstacles that hold us back.  It delivers us a life lived from our heart’s core, contributing our natural, enthusiastic gifts to the world around us in ways that transform it for the better.

George’s book Transforming Suffering into Wisdom: Mindfulness and The Art of Inner Listening offers a magnified view of the map through the crucial territory of the Understanding stage, teaching in detail a way to free ourselves to live with integrity.  One reviewer describes it as “applying meditation to our most mundane moments and habitual behaviors, while on each page appealing to our highest aspirations to lead more joyous and meaningful lives.”

George’s most recent book, Life Planning for You: How to Design and Deliver the Life of Your Dreams, maps a profoundly powerful path of practical life transformation.  It is called EVOKE, standing for its five phases of Exploration, Vision, Obstacles, Knowledge and Execution.

EVOKE contains sophisticated tools for exploring the heart’s core and translating the calling, purpose or dream that we find there into a fully articulated vision.  It provides equally powerful methods for identifying and overcoming the obstacles that could get in the way and gaining the knowledge needed to bring the Life Plan to fruition.

You could call it the map of a shortcut, speeding a journey that could take a lifetime, but in most cases it feels more like a map of hidden passages to dream destinations people never imagined possible.  In either case, as a shortcut or as a map to fulfill impossible dreams, it describes the kind of map we most need today—we need an EVOKE Life Plan for human civilization.

George’s first two books are essential to Life Planning.  The close-up map in Transforming Suffering into Wisdom is as important in the EVOKE process as in the 7 Stages Understanding stage.  Mindfulness and inner listening help us be aware of our deepest thoughts and feelings, the dreams and callings in our heart’s core.  Mindfulness brings to light inner obstacles that are either blocking the core from view or blocking the Life Plan from execution.

The 7 Stages enhance the EVOKE process by helping identify conditioned beliefs or messages that could be stifling a person’s freedom and integrity in fulfilling their Life Plan.  The 7 Stages show the way to work through the dead-ends of those early conditionings into the highest level of maturity.

George believes that if every person were to tap their deep well of creative and entrepreneurial energy through Life Planning the world would be transformed in ways that would solve today’s most threatening problems.  He also knows that the systems that make up the structure of our civilization urgently need reform.  Raising a 10% minority to a new consciousness is crucial, but so is the continued work on issues that is already being done—much of it by people who already are at the higher, nondual or integral level.  Life Planning can help more people find their place in that all important work.

George’s forthcoming book on A Golden Civilization brings the wisdom of his other three maps to bear on the journey toward an ideal society.  He addresses issues of entrepreneurial spirit, democracy, the media, economics (financial advice, products and markets) and leadership.

He says, “In the face of these many challenges and indeed because of them it is time to change direction. It is time to people the earth with brilliant hearts even more than brilliant minds, so that all actions…will be made with kindness, compassion and consideration for all.”

George writes, “If you want a golden civilization, you must start with what is golden inside of you.”

A Golden Civilization will contain maps showing how mindfulness in the present moment can bring not only a new consciousness—the rise of brilliant hearts to match our brilliant minds—but also the release of tremendous entrepreneurial energy that can provide the momentum we need to make a rapid transition.

To put George’s work into the full context of the movement through the Golden Room to a new Golden Civilization you can read the series of posts on this site starting here.

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