blog

The Nomad In Me

Kevin is a global nomad and advocates tapping into the “The Nomadic Mindset” in leadership book, The Nomadic Mindset: Never Settle…for Too Long and talks. He is also a Professional Keynote Speaker, Executive Coach, Trainer and Author. Read on our interview #12 below -

Keshav: Hi Kevin, how would you introduce this concept or the idea of the nomadic mindset to a layman?

Kevin: It’s a great question, thanks very much for asking it, Keshav. So the nomadic mindset – it is a mindset which I will classify as the movement of the mind. In other words, if you think about nomads and the definition of nomad, the actual definition means to move from place to place to find new pastures. The word nomad came from Greek – nomas, meaning wandering or grazing.

What you are doing in this whole process, is the movement of the mind, to be able to move from one idea to another, to be flexible in ideas, to be able to adapt, to be able to evolve and to be very fluid, and understanding the bigger picture of the world and be able to narrow in and focus in very rapidly to an idea, a thought, a project or any possibility. The nomadic mindset is a very fluid, wide concept which is actually very strategic if you look at nomadic cultures. So in organizations today, when I did the research for my book, I interviewed about a hundred executives and asked them – What’s the mindset that you need more of in today’s organization, and what do you think they said?

Keshav: Adaptability to change?

Kevin: Absolutely, so the nomadic mindset. Adaptability to change is within the nomadic mindset, and it is fluid, it’s not narrow, it enjoys risk, it enjoys looking at different possibilities – this mind and this mindset. It’s not really about status quo. It’s the creativity, the innovation that is in this part of the brain or this mindset actually. So really what it is the nomadic mindset is the mindset which is fluid, and it is the movement of the mind to find out all possibilities and opportunities.

Keshav: How long have you been associated with this idea?

Kevin: Well it’s a very interesting question because I have a feeling that it’s been with me all my life! Hahaha. I think I was born with it but I didn’t know what it was, until March 30th 2017. So it’s a long story, but the first thing that started to happen for me was that I was very uncomfortable with my life, I was very uncomfortable with the work that I was doing, the areas and themes I was working with, because I am speaker, a coach and a trainer. I kept thinking I am not dealing with a really strong purpose that puts my feet into the ground and a theme that will keep me rooted to somewhere.

At one point I went back to Canada, because I live part time in Singapore. So I went back as I would normally do, it was December 28th of the year because the flights were cheaper that day, and I came out of the airport, and it was snowing like crazy. I looked and I went I don’t have to be here, I am a global nomad. Why am I here? All of a sudden it came to me, What is that? A global nomad.

This became my brand. It’s been happening all of my life it’s just that finally it clicked in, maybe slow learning or waking up at the right time.

Anyway, I was looking for a theme for my speaking, and I was working with my mentor, who is a great speaker - Fredrik Haren, and when I met with him the first time on March 30, 2017, he said “I am very curious about this global nomad. What do you mean by nomad?” So we went through a long discovery to find out deeper what did it mean so he tried to extract all sorts of things and I started to get more and more excited about the thought and the possibilities and what I could hear myself saying and what he was asking me about life and thoughts in general. He said, “Wow! This is really really fascinating” and I said, “Oh, Okay!” but he said “but if you’re gonna speak, you need to write a book and make sure you have the credibility and for that credibility, you need to find a really strong theme and then you need to go and research that theme” So he said, “You need to write a book. What would the book’s name be?”

I thought maybe for 10 seconds and I said, “The Nomadic Mindset” and I could see in his eyes, he just sort of stopped for a moment and he said “Wow! I have never heard this in all of my speaking career” and I went, “Oh!”. So then he said, “Now you have to research”, I said, “Okay, yeah, what does that mean?”

Because I have never really really researched before and he said, “Well you need to go and have interviews with about 100 executives and because it’s a leadership book and that it’s nomadic mindset you need to go to the other side and visit at least three nomadic cultures in the world. Now this was getting more complex so I thought well, maybe it’s not such a great idea! Anyway, I decided to go out to Mongolia, to Kenya and Southern Morocco in Sahara.

I have to tell you, it changed my life completely, doing this work, and I just returned from Namibia right now, spending a bit of time, not an awful lot, with the Himba and the SAN or Bushman. I can tell you that something has happened to my

...

Kevin is a global nomad and advocates tapping into the “The Nomadic Mindset” in leadership book, The Nomadic Mindset: Never Settle…for Too Long and talks. He is also a Professional Keynote Speaker, Executive Coach, Trainer and Author. Read on our interview #12 below -

Keshav: Hi Kevin, how would you introduce this concept or the idea of the nomadic mindset to a layman?

Kevin: It’s a great question, thanks very much for asking it, Keshav. So the nomadic mindset – it is a mindset which I will classify as the movement of the mind. In other words, if you think about nomads and the definition of nomad, the actual definition means to move from place to place to find new pastures. The word nomad came from Greek – nomas, meaning wandering or grazing.

What you are doing in this whole process, is the movement of the mind, to be able to move from one idea to another, to be flexible in ideas, to be able to adapt, to be able to evolve and to be very fluid, and understanding the bigger picture of the world and be able to narrow in and focus in very rapidly to an idea, a thought, a project or any possibility. The nomadic mindset is a very fluid, wide concept which is actually very strategic if you look at nomadic cultures. So in organizations today, when I did the research for my book, I interviewed about a hundred executives and asked them – What’s the mindset that you need more of in today’s organization, and what do you think they said?

Keshav: Adaptability to change?

Kevin: Absolutely, so the nomadic mindset. Adaptability to change is within the nomadic mindset, and it is fluid, it’s not narrow, it enjoys risk, it enjoys looking at different possibilities – this mind and this mindset. It’s not really about status quo. It’s the creativity, the innovation that is in this part of the brain or this mindset actually. So really what it is the nomadic mindset is the mindset which is fluid, and it is the movement of the mind to find out all possibilities and opportunities.

Keshav: How long have you been associated with this idea?

Kevin: Well it’s a very interesting question because I have a feeling that it’s been with me all my life! Hahaha. I think I was born with it but I didn’t know what it was, until March 30th 2017. So it’s a long story, but the first thing that started to happen for me was that I was very uncomfortable with my life, I was very uncomfortable with the work that I was doing, the areas and themes I was working with, because I am speaker, a coach and a trainer. I kept thinking I am not dealing with a really strong purpose that puts my feet into the ground and a theme that will keep me rooted to somewhere.

At one point I went back to Canada, because I live part time in Singapore. So I went back as I would normally do, it was December 28th of the year because the flights were cheaper that day, and I came out of the airport, and it was snowing like crazy. I looked and I went I don’t have to be here, I am a global nomad. Why am I here? All of a sudden it came to me, What is that? A global nomad.

This became my brand. It’s been happening all of my life it’s just that finally it clicked in, maybe slow learning or waking up at the right time.

Anyway, I was looking for a theme for my speaking, and I was working with my mentor, who is a great speaker - Fredrik Haren, and when I met with him the first time on March 30, 2017, he said “I am very curious about this global nomad. What do you mean by nomad?” So we went through a long discovery to find out deeper what did it mean so he tried to extract all sorts of things and I started to get more and more excited about the thought and the possibilities and what I could hear myself saying and what he was asking me about life and thoughts in general. He said, “Wow! This is really really fascinating” and I said, “Oh, Okay!” but he said “but if you’re gonna speak, you need to write a book and make sure you have the credibility and for that credibility, you need to find a really strong theme and then you need to go and research that theme” So he said, “You need to write a book. What would the book’s name be?”

I thought maybe for 10 seconds and I said, “The Nomadic Mindset” and I could see in his eyes, he just sort of stopped for a moment and he said “Wow! I have never heard this in all of my speaking career” and I went, “Oh!”. So then he said, “Now you have to research”, I said, “Okay, yeah, what does that mean?”

Because I have never really really researched before and he said, “Well you need to go and have interviews with about 100 executives and because it’s a leadership book and that it’s nomadic mindset you need to go to the other side and visit at least three nomadic cultures in the world. Now this was getting more complex so I thought well, maybe it’s not such a great idea! Anyway, I decided to go out to Mongolia, to Kenya and Southern Morocco in Sahara.

I have to tell you, it changed my life completely, doing this work, and I just returned from Namibia right now, spending a bit of time, not an awful lot, with the Himba and the SAN or Bushman. I can tell you that something has happened to my heart, something has happened to me emotionally – I feel something exploded inside. There are so many different emotions and thoughts happening right now. It’s a very difficult thing to tangibly say the one thing that this is about.

Basically, I would say the nomadic mindset is the freedom of the mind and which then becomes the freedom of the heart and it’s the complete freedom of us, individuals to be able to explore anywhere and adventure into any sort of location, not just physical location but ideas and thoughts.

To have a nomadic mindset, most people would say that means travelling. Yes it means travelling in your mind and it can mean travelling physically which is also cool, because then you become more expansive in your mind and think in a bigger way. So that’s how it came about. I mean it’s a long story, I am sorry, hahaha! But it could go longer, that was shorter than the usual.

Keshav: Do you think it’s particularly relevant in these times or at this moment in history, do you think people are not being nomadic enough in their mindset and that’s why you feel a need to spread this thought? Do you think it’s a particularly relevant theme at this time?

Kevin: It is the theme. Haha! I do think it’s a particularly relevant theme. It is THE theme. If you stand on a mountain and you look, hear and observe what is going on, all of the interconnected possibilities of the universe whether it’s humanity, animals, land, culture, climate, everything are asking you to have a very expansive mindset.

My premise for the book is that we have lost the plot, we have become too narrow in our thinking and that we must expand. What this is doing for us today, is saying to us that we must be broader thinkers of how we see all of existence today, and that what we have got ourselves into, is very old 20th century organizational, banking, finance and insurance models. They do not work for 21st century lifestyle and the individuals such as the Zs and the millennials that are in the workplace. It works fine for my generation but it is not going to work forever.

So what is being asked of us is to go back into this nomadism in our minds and to be able to find balance within that. When you look at indigenous cultures, they understand all of this, because that is their way of life. They understand all of these behaviors – of creativity, adaptability, change, truth, trust. All of these behaviours and attitudes they believe in, is because it is survival. If you do not have the facts and truth and trust of your politicians or your organization, you will not survive ultimately, and survival can be absolutely physical and mental survival but it can also be of societies and cultures.

It can be the organizational models which sometimes need to change. You are starting to see some organizations shift and change and adapting the ancient wisdom, but they don’t know its ancient wisdom to tell you the truth. So the consequence is that it all comes from the beginning of humanity.

We talk about thriving on an ongoing basis in our societies, which is wonderful but everything starts with survival. What we are doing in our thriving is still trying to survive, surviving, thriving, making money, to put a roof over our head, clothes, food in our mouths, all of these things, to be able to have the life that we wish, but that is about survival. When I look at the indigenous people of this world and for example the Himba of Namibia. They are pastoralists.  You look inside their huts, there’s maybe one or two things, and no much if anything on the floor.  This allows them enough room in their minds to wander. This period, now, I believe is a gift of gratitude. Stopping everything, can be very hard for most people, because they are on a speedy motor of acceleration for money, not humanity, money. It’s becoming a problem. It is a problem and we are seeing the results. The virus is one way for us to look behind and rethink. I believe that is part of what the nomadic mindset does.

Keshav: You referenced a lot the indigenous tribes, the people you spent time with while you were researching for your book, how did you select these three group of people – Kenyan, Mongolians and Moroccan?

Kevin: Well, I chose the Maasai first, because they are very famous tribe and they are pastoralists. I was focusing on pastoralists, not hunters and gatherers. Luckily what happened was, I had a coaching client in Nairobi and after a coaching session, I said to her “Do you have any connections with the Maasai? I am doing research for my book and I would like to be able to line something up.” She said “Oh, I can organize something for you, I have done a lot of work with the Maasai and I have great connections” So I said, “Wow! Okay!”

And then I was very curious about Mongolia, because Mongolian is a northern territory so they have a very different geographical divide and they are also pastoralists and also a fascinating culture, and they are Buddhist, whereas the Maasai are Christian today. Then I thought I need to have another culture and one culture I was fascinated by was one that lived in Sahara - the Berbers and other tribes. And again, same thing, I had a coaching client in Morocco and I told him this and he said “Oh Yeah! I can help you. I know an anthropologist friend and his specialty is Berbers”.  I was like ”Wow! That’s gold!” So everything came into place.

Keshav: So these nomadic cultures, they are vastly different from each other, not only in terms of culture, but in terms of their landscape, climate, language etc, but there was a common theme that attracted you to go and meet them. What has been your observation? At the end of the day, are there lifestyles very similar even though they may practice it differently, or you think even they have different flavors of nomadism among them?

Kevin: Thank you very much for that question. When I was in the Sahara, I was having what is called the tea ceremony, and I was interviewing the man of the house, because you don’t interview the female in their culture. So after the tea ceremony, I was instructed that I could now ask questions. Because the tea ceremony was all about laying the land, the safety of the land, developing rapport, it was about them building trust for me to be able to speak and this is something extremely interesting and important.

I did ask some questions, and then the master teamaker, asked me a question – “What makes us all similar?” He knew that I had been to Mongolia and to the Maasai. This in many ways is the same question that you are asking me. I had to think for a second because there are differences, but he asked me what is similar, not what’s different. I said, “it’s your humanity” and what I meant by that is that whether it was in Mongolia, or with the Maasai in Kenya, or the Sahara, the people had exhibited the same behaviors and values, it seemed.  Yes they had different languages, different religions, different geographies, different foods, different all those things but the basis of the way they communicate in many ways, the way they deal with communities, the way they deal with decision making, all of those were very much the same across the board.  I thought, “Wow! This is very cool”. What is this saying? Yes, there are differences, and the basis of similarity is the human part.

Keshav: What’s the contrast between you and I, living in large cities, vs. the tribal men living in Kenya or Mongolia? You gave examples that their houses don’t have ton of goods, very minimalistic, which allows them space to expand their mind. Were there other observations like that?

Kevin: Well, obviously, very obviously, the contrast is huge. I am sitting here looking out at apartment blocks and there is no such thing as an apartment block there.  If you were to visit a Maasai village, or a Himba village, you see them all in circles. The huts are arranged in circles, the cow pastures in the middle, and guarded, and then the space in between. It could be the design of new apartments, but the apartments are putting people into boxes, this is not putting people into boxes, this is allowing them freedom of movement, so this is a simple difference.

I think that the biggest thing that we can learn is that this still lives within us. These nomadic cultures, and these nomadic behaviors live within us, we just need to adapt to them, become aware of them and bring them to surface. As you started off by saying that we need to adapt, and change, those are the things they take for granted while we see it as a big issue. When I asked them “How do you deal with change?” they looked at me as like “are you stupid?” Honestly, change is happening all the time, so why are you even focusing on it? Just deal with it, just go with it. Because we are making it complex in our minds. This is what they call the intelligence of the nomad. Oh! That’s cool! But the intelligence of the nomad are these qualities they just naturally in their stride.

Keshav: I think that’s a big contrast.

Kevin: It’s a huge contrast. Because we have completely divorced ourselves from this. You see a lot of people searching today for some sort of whole within themselves, and to get away from the stress and the magnitudes of if I climb the ladder, that means that I’ll get more stress, more work and if I do something fantastic, I get more work put on my plate, and then it builds and builds and builds and builds. So, it’s a huge contrast, but it doesn’t mean to say that we can’t say “Stop” and that’s what this virus has said, “Stop”

Keshav: You mention a lot in your blogs, this tagline if I may “Think vastly, act narrowly”. What’s the thought behind that?

Kevin: I would say, beside ‘the movement of the mind’, ‘think vastly act narrowly’ is really one of the cores of my book and my thinking at this point in time. When I was in Mongolia, a young millennial student said to me, even though she never lived in the Gobi desert, or out in the Mongolian Steppes.  She was an urbanite. She said, “I am really longing for it”, and then she said to me “Nomads, they think vastly, act narrowly”.  She also said, “Mindset is your capital”. So I asked her what does that mean. It means that when nomads think, they have this expansiveness first of looking at all the possibilities, where there cows are going, where do they next need to feed, and in the simple notions of what they do every day, and then they make a decision and narrowly focus in. But they look at all the possibilities first. Most of us start in a very narrow position and barely get out of the narrow position in the day. Just step back, and look at from the wide angle, helicopter view, whatever you want to call it, but most of us when we come to the day, already narrow, not wide. And that’s the problem, because you may never see the big picture.

Keshav: That resonates a lot with things we do at our work or more generally, sometimes you are all consumed with one small problem for a long time only to realize at the end that it wasn’t even the relevant problem to solve.

Kevin: So, you see, you can start applying it. I actually used the physical term of thinking about it. When I do coaching, I ask people to stand up and expand their arms, and I ask “What does that feel like in your body? In your heart? In your breathing? Does it feel wide? And they say “Yeah!” and I say now slowly brings your arms in and how does that feel?  I ask, what’s your breathing like? It’s tighter. Everything is a bit tighter. So you need to be able to do both though. You need to have the fluidity like a bird to be able to go back and forth with your wings, instead of getting stuck in one place, and that is the adaptability, the fluidity of the  nomadic mindest.

Keshav: That’s a great analogy with a bird, it really drives home the message. So Kevin, I was reading your bio on your website, and I came to know that you have done so much different type of work before you got into this particular project. You had been involved in figure skating as an athlete, then you were a coach for other athletes, and then you were directing short movies, you are executive coach, mentor, and then you are working on this project now. Most people, if not all are largely stuck in the same line of work their whole lives or that’s how they define themselves. How did you manage to ramble into so many things? You said it was natural progression, but all these things are really different though, aren’t they?

Kevin: Woah! That’s a long story, you don’t have enough time, Keshav hahaha! If I connect the dots looking back, I realize that I am truly a nomad. I love to explore, I like to find new possibilities, I like to expand myself. I started off my life as a figure skater, and I was a figure skating champion in Canada, and at some point, I started to think, Oh, but there’s a bigger world out there, there’s exploration of the lands, travel and all sorts of thing.

When I stopped skating, I instantly left Canada and I moved to Australia to teach skating, which is not a skating country. Then I came back to Canada when my father died, and I went to university and I was studying to be a doctor. By the end of my bachelor’s degree I said to my mother, “I can’t do this. I cannot become a doctor. It’s too rigid for me. It’s too narrow. I cannot do it, I need to explore” She said, “Well I don’t know why are you doing it then?” “Well I thought you wanted me to do it, and dad wanted me to do it” “No, you made that up” and then I said, “Oh”

Then I was free to go wherever and do whatever. I went to New York to study dance, so I became a contemporary dancer and then I combined contemporary dance and skating into the creativity and arts aspect of skating. Following that, I became a choreographer for national world Olympic champions which led into large productions. Okay, you still need to keep growing, you need to expand, you need to find new things. So then I went into film making, because they are all linked. And then after that, I thought why can’t I go into the bigger world, because I want to touch more people in the bigger world. Executive coaching became that, then speaking, and then training.  I now felt I could take humanity to new places and take more journeys.

Keshav: So what’s your next project?

Kevin : Haha! This is my project for the rest of my life. Eventually create a foundation for supporting education for children in Kenya. I would love to be able to expand that globally in some shape or form but at the moment, I am really focused now on getting the nomadic mindset message out, that we live in a nomadic world, more so now than ever but a contemporary nomadic world, and that comes from your mindset.

Keshav: Do you want to say anything to whoever who may be reading watching or listening to this interview?

Kevin: Well, this is the message that I have been saying all along. Think vastly, act narrowly – to expand your mind, to explore, to be able to see multi dimensions, to be able to go within that nomad within your mind, and just wander, and take action, because nomads they learn by actions, by doing.

‘Think Vastly, Act Narrowly’ by Binderiya          

 

 

Kevin can be reached at –

Website: www.thenomadicmindset.com

Podcast: www.thenomadicmindset/podcasts

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kevin.cottam1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nomadicmindset/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Linkedin: bit.ly/2MS2n9G

Amazon: amzn.to/2xjMZeS

Youtube: bit.ly/2ZuMHuI

Please login to see more updates on our recent interviews

Comments

Jagdish

Really nice project done by both of you

Leave A Comment