Darwin’s professional accomplishments and educational credentials stand on their own. However, it is his attention to heart which sets him truly apart from other business leaders of our time.
Much like The Noble Enterprise, the business model he created, Darwin’s background and philosophy are anything but linear. He refuses to be defined solely by traditional business accoutrements and titles—such as corner offices and Ivy League degrees.
“It was a case of split personality,” the expert on how to create sustainable success in business warmly concedes whenever confronted with questions such as, “How did a classically-trained business economist ever come to the conclusion that heart was integral to achieving success in business?”
Darwin explains it this way: “I knew finance and the business world, and I knew how to do the formulas—but I increasingly saw that something was missing. I began seeing that all those financial models and strategic planning systems I was building were not enough by themselves to generate superior performance. It was going to take the full engagement of all of people’s energies, including heart to achieve real and lasting business success.”
When problem solving in a corporate environment, whether as an executive employee or as an outside corporate consultant who was brought in to help management improve performance, Dar admits that his heart side would always come out. Rather than merely analyzing and recommending (the traditional consulting role), “I found myself connecting and relating—not lecturing as a corporate person,” he explains. “I found myself bringing out wisdom that was inside the people, but wasn’t seeing the light of day.”
An epiphany early on
Hailing from a long line of businessmen—his grandfather, in particular, was at the top of the world of finance—Dar saw his father, another banker, “come more alive” during the family’s summer vacations in Maine than in his job in New York City. And it was this gift of the natural world and the connection that he feels with it that resonates with Dar. An early experience made a long-lasting impact on him. At the young age of 10, camping out in the open one night atop a very cold mountain, and fearful of confronting whatever might be “out there”, Darwin finally peered out of his sleeping bag expecting to see nothing but darkness. “Instead the sky was ablaze with stars,” he recalls. “It took my breath away, and I had this sense of everything being as it should be, and of being part of something far greater than myself.”
It was one of those rare, life-affirming moments that rewires the mind and awakens the heart. Ever since that fateful hiking trip during childhood, Dar has been on a mission to act from that place of unity and total interconnection — to follow the heart and to help individuals and businesses in tapping that inner source of wisdom and power so that they can achieve far more than the norm – in their individual roles in their companies.
As a student who always scored at the very top in mathematics during college prep, he strongly considered a career as an M.I.T. engineer. Clearly, Darwin was headed down a quantitative path. But ever desiring to explore qualitative options, as well, Darwin’s heart pulled him to Yale University because of that school’s Glee Club—which he later led on a World Tour. (He continues to sing in the Yale Alumni Chorus.)
Singing in a group was another experience of Heart, in part because of the opportunity to sing great music, but also to experience the power of the group, which created exhilarating experiences of “Oneness” which he could draw on to help groups collaborate “as one”.
Although Darwin loved philosophy with its exploration of cosmic questions, he majored in economics to prepare himself for the business world.
An energizing adventure
Darwin’s creation of The Noble Enterprise Model for business has been evolutionary, the result of a career-long quest to determine what – when all is said and done – makes some companies the vibrant, successes they are. He saw that something was missing from the traditional business model, which calls primarily on the human energies of Head and Hands, but too often leaves out the Heart.
Darwin became involved early in the Spirit at Work movement, which reawakened his passion, after it had been kindled in college, but was dampened as he went the traditional business route at first.
Darwin collaborated with Gordon Davidson (who subsequently co-founded The Center for Visionary Leadership), giving talks on the Energies of Successful Corporations. It was during this period that Darwin began seeing the corporation, not so much in the traditional way of material transactions, but in terms of the flow of human energy – the full range of human energies. For example, he explains, “Each company has its own ‘energy field’ – and it is this energy field that determines how people in the organization think and act. Sick companies, yes, have distressed financial statements, but their energy fields have grown sick and blocked usually long before this shows up in failing financial performance. What I was seeing in business is that not all human energies were welcome in many companies, and much of the energy that was supposedly welcome, was being stifled through fearful and controlling managers and management systems. The message to people not to bring to work and express much of their energy (other than “get it done” energy) was very clear.”
In fact, Darwin has a little story that he likes to tell:
As Director of Corporate Planning for Hubbell during the 1980’s, Darwin attended an industry conference of electrical manufacturers and electrical distributors in San Francisco. While he was there he was invited to be a guest on a Berkeley radio call-in talk show to discuss the topic, “Bringing Your Whole Self to Work.”
The chairman of Hubbell somehow got word that his Director of Corporate Planning was involved in some kind of “energy” enterprise. He let it be known that it was OK for Darwin to be involved in some outside business as long as it didn’t interfere with his job at Hubbell.
The chairman had assumed that Darwin’s outside “energy” enterprise involved “oil and gas” – sources of physical energy—when in fact he was addressing the topic of human energy.
“I vowed then that I would not put this human energy dimension aside,” recalls Darwin. So in 1985, he taught a graduate course in management, assigning his students to write a paper on the role of heart in leadership. “All of this was speaking to myself,” admits Darwin, who shares that he “reads science materials” that address topics such as energy flow and quantum physics—which provide him with flashes of truth about human life in the business world.
Darwin also began designing spiritual retreats and leadership exploration groups as well as writing about the importance of incorporating spirit and heart into business – not just for human health and growth, but also to enable businesses to succeed far beyond those companies that invite only part of the Human Being to work.
An idea takes flight
All of this led to Darwin’s creation of The Noble Enterprise, a business model for sustainable success that has years of research, practical experience and success stories behind it – with a growing list of ways clients can access and use this model.
Today Darwin divides his time between his home in Maine — where he does his writing and rejuvenation — and, quite literally, the rest of the world delivering lectures, seminars and meeting with clients. But it is during those times spent at his home in Maine, in the midst of nature, where Darwin can flex his creativity, nourish his spirit — and simply let his heart sing.