My NativeAdVantage: (Click to watch My Native Trailer)
Leif Skogberg is a sustainability expert, holistic health guide, heart-based leadership consultant, and eco-social entrepreneur. For over 15 years he has been serving leaders and change-makers to move beyond fear and limitation into alignment for greater joy and purpose in life and work. He is creator and co-founder of the Appreculture Design Institute, and creator of the Into Greatness Now 30-Day Challenge, as well as the author of the e-book, Into Greatness Now: 5 Principles To Ignite Your Genius for personal and professional mastery. Leif works with individuals and groups to achieve greater health and vitality among individuals and in relationships. In 2015, he created Appreculture Design: Whole Systems for Personal & Planetary Resilience, an integrated ethical design framework for creating a holistic and sustainable world - from the inside and out - encompassing ecological, social, economic, and individual aspects of regenerative living and design. He is a dedicated father of two children, ages 6 and 11, and a committed husband of 11 years. He is also a long time master gardener, yogi, natural builder, Permaculture designer, teacher, and consultant, and an experienced and certified facilitator of The Way of Council.
What do I do best?
As mentioned in my trailer video, I believe what I do best is to listen deeply with my whole being and then help communicate back what is out of coherence in order to bring things back into harmony - which I call communicate coherence.
This has been an essential practice for me over the years in both my work with individual coaching clients and consulting for integrative property, organization, companies, and community sustainability designs. Deep listening begins with the recognition that our body has many ways of receiving information and intelligence, such as with the sensitive electromagnetic resonance of the heart. Such as the power of the mind to access information and knowledge beyond sight and sound. Such as the vibration that moves through our solid bones, and the instincts and feelings that move like water through our stomach and gut. In fact we have more than one brain (some say 3, I experience 4) and they all have tremendous power and ability. What wants to be heard? What wants to be witnessed? What wants to emerge from this person or place in service to the greater good of all.
The second aspect of my answer, and the other side of listening, is communicating. Sometimes this step is unnecessary as things or people are just wanting to be heard, but usually this is the next practical step towards growth and integration. I see my role as being a communicator of coherence and harmony. That means responding to the listening with the intention of restoring flow, health, and wholeness. Responding to the listening to create greater integrity within the individual, organization, or property. With the power of presence and a still witnessing consciousness, all sorts of insight and wisdom comes through to help the individual or group restore integrity, health, and vitality. Communicating coherence is about working toward the emergence of potential, possibility, and the next practical steps toward a more aligned system, structure, and design.
What makes me the best version of myself?
What makes me the best version of myself is working with others to create a better world. I believe that my work is a reflection of the whole and the whole is a reflection of me. Whatever work I am doing, no matter how large or how small, I see as a part of my responsibility to bring about greater health and wholeness in the world. That begins with myself (which is the hardest for me) and spirals out into my relationships with my wife, kids, family, friends, coworkers, clients, community and more.
Every aspect of my work has an impact on the whole and therefore is tremendously important to me. I am a micro of the macro and every drop of effort, change, transformation, and healing progress helps the world to become a better (or worse) place. This has really been useful in my marriage and in various communities I have lived in and companies I have worked with over the years. Seeing the work that we do with others, the human relationship aspects of our lives, as an essential part of the work to heal, grow, awaken, renew, and restore the Earth and all of humanity.
What are my aspirations?
My personal ambitions are to continue to live a simple and sustainable lifestyle, as much as possible. To live close to nature, family, friends, community, and with good wholesome hard work to keep me healthy and vital while being in serve to the planet and people.
My professional goals are to expand my online teachings and business to be able to reach millions of people all over the world. To continue to inspire and train people about holistic living and design and to empower people with the skills to be the change they wish to see. I love being of service to others and the earth and I see business and economics as a key way to make a huge change in our world today.
Most of my life I have been focused on developing my skills and abilities in working with healing people and the land, but my work over the last few years has shifted more towards being an entrepreneur and online business leader. It has been extremely challenging to work less with the land, people, and plants in personally and to move more toward online and distance work. However, I see it as a necessary step towards fulfilling my potential and reaching a large global audience without having to travel non-stop, so I am moving forward through and pushing through my limiting beliefs, patterns, and stories.
(Rainwater Harvesting Swales and Edible and Medicinal Food Forest Garden)
My Biggest Success?
I have worked on some amazing projects, with some incredible people, and done some some important and beautiful things in my life, yet my biggest accomplishment has definitely been being able to stay married for 11 years and raise two kids (ages 6 and 11) in the process. With divorce rates over 50% now in the USA, and people often divorcing due to the stress and challenge of raising children in a disconnected and broken materialistic consumer culture, I see it as a huge success that my wife and I have been able to make it through so many challenging times as lovers, partners, parents, and friends. It has not been easy and we have nearly separated on several occasions.
It has taken a serious spiritual commitment to make it work. It has required letting go of ego stories, negative mind patterns, and self sabotaging beliefs. It has required vulnerability, courage, and so much strength to continue to show up to do the inner work. Intimate relationships, such as marriage, bring up so much of our deepest darkest shadows of ourselves and in this way they are one of the greatest challenges anyone can ever face, and one of the greatest teachers. Way more difficult than starting or running a successful business or writing a book, or speaking in front of an audience of 500 people. My marriage has required me to constantly choose love over pride and self-pity. It has required me to consistently see myself and my behavior in the reflection of my beloved. And, to continuously expand my heart, my ability to be present, and enhance my emotional maturity, intelligence, and mastery.
I am super grateful for all the spiritual teachings, compassionate communication practices, and mentors that have supported my wife and myself to survive and even flourish. Especially while living in a society that has lost the village and that encourages individuality, flying solo, and personal freedoms over family integrity. I do not judge those who have separated or divorced because I know first hand how hard it can be to stay together, and of course, I cannot be certain it will never happen to me. All I know is that I have to choose love and commitment to myself, life, marriage, and the Earth everyday. It is a conscious free will choice every single day. And, I am super appreciative for how blessed I am to have been able to have guidance from many elders and teachers in conscious communication, heartfelt listening, the Way of Council and more.
My Most Challenging Moment?
There are two distinct moments that come to mind.
The first is when I was 16 years old, and I was in a lot of physical and emotional pain due to a challenging childhood and numerous extreme sports injuries. The whole experience is a bit of a story, which I share briefly in my first book, Into Greatness Now: 5 Principles to Ignite Your Genius, but what I will share here is the nutshell. I was in so much pain and suffering that I separated from my body. I didn't even recognize myself anymore and I experienced a cognitive dissonance where the “I” did not recognize “myself”. And, I thought to myself, “which one was real?” After this moment, I spiraled downward and hit rock bottom and found myself with a choice of two paths. Suicide or spiritual awakening? One was a path of more self destructive behavior and creating more pain in my body and the world. And one was a path of light. The classic light at the end of the tunnel scenario, of which I was unfamiliar with at the time.
Fortunately, I chose the light. Instantly, in the moment of that choice, I took 100% responsibility for my life and no longer blamed my dad, or god, or anyone else for my suffering. I realized that if I blamed anyone I was giving them power over my life. I wanted my power back. if I was going to have a better life and brighter future that I was going to need to create it for myself by seeking knowledge and wisdom and by making better decisions. In this moment, I forgave myself, my dad, god and all others who had hurt me. I chose love and committed myself to seeking the light and the truth in all ways. From this moment forward my life has been about personal and planetary healing and how to create a better world for myself and for humanity.
The second most challenging situation relates to the last question about my greatest success and accomplishment. There was a moment several years ago when my wife was going to leave me. It had come after several months of us questioning everything, so it was not a huge surprise, but it was a tremendous shock and disappointment. At first, I was furious and unsure of how to respond, but after a few hours of processing, venting, getting space, settling and listening deeply within, I realized a deep truth. I saw myself ping pong back and forth between extremes. Thinking about a future without my wife and children together as one made me so sad I would cry and get angry. Then think back into the past of memories, like holidays and family adventures, and how we would never have it like that again. Then I would get more sad and cry. However, as I ping ponged, I realized that when I was in the present moment, it was all okay. In the present moment, I simply wanted what was best for my wife and children and I knew that I would be just fine. I saw that I only got sad and angry when I was not in the present moment. If I could maintain presence, I knew I could love my wife no matter what, together or not. I knew that all I really wanted was for her to be happy. And, that if staying married meant she would not be happy than I did not want that either.
After really grounding into this new awareness and clarity brought to me by presence, I went back to my wife and told her the following: “I love you no matter what you decide. If you need to leave and that is what is going to make you happy, then I fully support you to do that and I still completely love you. I will be sad and disappointed that we are not going to continue to work on ourselves together, but I will understand and I will move on. And, if you decide you want to stay together, I will be very grateful and I will continue to deepen my love for you and our family. I am committed to doing what we need to do to make this work.”
After this conversation, something palpably changed in my wife. She didn’t say much at the time, but she was visibly awestruck! The response I could see on her face was, “really? You will support and love me, no matter what I do.” She was experiencing my unconditional love and later she told me it completely cracked her wide open and helped her realize what a tremendous gift our love and our relationship was in life. A few days later we had a profoundly healing council style conversation and she decided she did not want to leave me.
Soon thereafter, we decided we would continue to work things out and to commit to our love and our relationship even deeper. This time with two feet in. The love and connection has grown so much since that experience and it profoundly changed my perspective on how to be present in a relationship and how to unconditionally love someone. As the saying goes “if you love someone, you have to let them go. If they love you too, they will come back to you.”
(Leif with internationally renowned 'Water Gandhi of Indian', Rajendra Singh at The Ojai Foundation)
There are many, but the most pertinent for me is to “be the change we wish to see in the world.” A quote often associated or credited to Mahatmas Gandhi.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
I have many people whom I have studied and see as role models in different areas of my life. Given my work in big picture inner and out sustainability there are usually people I find who represent certain aspects of who I am and what I do.
To highlight those people that have significantly influenced me, I would have to say, Eckhart Tolle’s spiritual teachings. When I was in my late teens, I would listen to his audiobooks every night on cassette tape while I slept. For several years I programmed my subconscious mind with his teachings and the frequencies of his voice. Primarily the books The Power of Now and A New Earth. A few years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Eckhart in person and privately speaking with him for about 20 minutes. Spending time with Jane Goodall was hugely inspiring and encouraging for me and my friends to continue our activism and leadership work. Tony Robbins has been a huge influence for me over the last 5 years, as I have immersed myself more in the life coaching and professional development work and world.
There are several mentors and role models for me in sustainability and whole systems design like David Holmgren, Darren Doherty, Joanna Macy, Toby Hemenway, Penny Livingston, Andy Lipkis, Vandana Shiva, Art Ludwig, Fritjof Copra, Elisabet Sahtouris, Brock Dolman, Starhawk, and Ianto Evans. All of whom I have had the privilege of listening to and spending time studying with in person. I have also enjoyed learning ancient methods of whole systems design from many indigenous elders, wisdom keepers, medicine mentors, and shamans, such as Chumash Native Americans, Central & South American healers, specific Buddhist Teachers, and African shamanistic practitioners.
I also have several friends and role models from my time and work at The Ojai Foundation with The Way of Council, including youth Rites of Passage, nature vision fasting, Wheel of Life Teachings, team building, sacred land stewardship, natural building, and intimate couples council work. Specifically, I look up to and have learned a lot from my elders Gigi Coyle, Jack Zimmerman, Leon Berg, Joe Provisor, Lola Rae Long, Doug Adrianson, Marlow Hotchkiss, Laura Whitney, Patrick Talbot, and Irasha Talifero.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
I enjoy traveling anywhere and everywhere I have the opportunity to go. For me, every place on Earth has a unique beauty and magic that I experiencing. I especially love the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California where I grew up and spent most of my childhood playing in forests, rivers, lakes, winter time snow, and alpine meadows in the summertime full of bees and wildflowers. I enjoy the climate, beach, and gardens of Santa Barbara, where I lived for 10 years and studied Environmental Horticulture Science. I also love New Zealand and New Mexico too.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
Honestly, I love hand carved staffs and sticks from nature. I know it might seem kinda weird, but I can find 100 uses for a simple piece of wood, from digging, hiking assistance, self-defense, and as a talking stick to uses such as planting seeds, cob earth building, and stick passing exercise games, like peace sticks.
I also love my gardening tools, like my Felco pruning shears and my Corona shark-tooth saw.
My Current Passions?
I love making complex health and sustainability topics simple for people of all ages to understand and be able to do something about in their life. I do my best to find underlying patterns and principles of health and coherence in nature, humans, organizations, and business systems and distill those into my teachings.
My Appreculture Design system is based on this passion to simplify things for people. To make healthy and sustainable living easy and practical. I love sharing the themes of how inner and outer sustainability are related, connected, and similar in their overall objective, goals, and strategies. The same energies and elements are at play in all systems. Everything is a part of nature and so everything shares the same basic characteristics, whether it is an out of balance ecosystem or an organization sidetracked by social drama and interpersonal conflicts. The same is true for individuals and their own inner balance of energies, alignment, and coherence.
I am also passionate about practical and on-the-ground transformative practices for people, groups, and communities. I only use and teach things that I have tried and that work. I love finding things that get real results, and that anyone can do, and then sharing them with others to inspire greater change, personal growth, and awakening.
(Leif and crew installing a Watson's Wick Direct Deposit Composting System for Residential Flush Toilets)