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Stephen P Presley, PhD

Today, Steve's focus is on creating self-paced courses showing professionals and leaders how to meditate and use mindfulness practices to strengthen critical mind skills needed to adapt, flow, and  succeed in today's volatile and complex world. Steve also teaches Leadership and Mindfulness at Chapman University in Orange, California. 

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  • Ph.D. and MA in Human and Organization Systems (Fielding University)

  • MA in Organizational Leadership (Chapman University)

  • BS in Aero/Astro Engineering (University of Washington)

  • Various certifications  


16 years as an aerospace engineer and director in engineering; 15 years in organizational effectiveness (OE) including 10 years as Director of the OE Department. Steve also co-authored “Making Space: Strategic Leadership for a Complex World” with Dr. Wanda Austin, retired CEO of The Aerospace Corporation.


Steve is a serious student of meditation and mindfulness and has been practicing for 15 years. His root teacher is Dan Brown, Ph.D., of  Other important teachers and influences include Keith Dowman, Alan Wallace, Rodney Smith, Reggie Ray, Joseph Goldstein, Rupert Spira, Shinzen Young, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche.   

  • How wisdom and compassion/love balancing each other, keeping each other healthy and effective.

  • The power of Both/And over Either/Or (most of the time) 

  • How both the short-term and long-term together is more powerful than either separately.

  • The power of seeing a bigger picture to better understanding local behavior 

  • Learning from each other

  • The power of meeting people where they are and going from there

  • Curiosity and knowing

  • Mindfulness over reactivity/mindlessness

  • That we know that we know more than we can say

  • Emotions. They matter in human relationships. Don’t ignore them. 

  • Learning from mistakes

  • The imperfect 

  • Context because it matters. IT frames all of our choices. 

  • Leadership because it matters

  • Iteration that refines

  • How not knowing at times is ok

  • That cause and effect are always at work 

  • The journey as much as ends and outcomes

  • Leaders who are honest, open, courageous enough to admit some aspect of themselves that doesn’t align with who they think they are or who they want to be. 

  • Doing good in the world, for myself and others 

  • I value expanding my own consciousness, learning.

  • Others approaches to learning and pace, even if different from mine.  

  • That people may not be ready to name and address something. They get to choose when.

  • That I’m not perfect. Nobody is. I respect that we all make mistakes deserve an opportunity to correct those mistakes. 

  • The variety of ways that leadership can emerge and succeed. No one way is the answer. Any one way is at best a partial answer. All we can ever know is partial. 

  • I respect the hard work of leadership. I respect the hard work of so-called followers.  No “followers,” no leadership. Following may be a temporary state that does not mean one can’t also lead at times. Followers can and do generate leadership outcomes.

  • The way complexity can overwhelm us. I respect the limited capability of the mind to take in information and process it. 

  • I respect the fallibility of the decisions we make. 

  • I respect the potency of complex adaptive systems to generate outcomes that nobody saw coming. 

  • The human condition

  • The interdependencies that exist among us (tangible and intangible) and their power.  

  • The workings of cause and effect as much in the mind realm as in the physical realm.

  • The capacity of people to rise in to situations that they would not think they could, or others thought they could, but they, nonetheless, do. An unknown capacity that lies dormant, yet potentially powerful, activated by some mix of conditions and causes that allows it to rise. 

  • I respect that things are rarely what they seem at first blush or on the surface. Mind isn’t what it seems. Self isn’t what it seems. You can’t judge a book by its cover.  

  • We know more than we can say. Sometimes what we know doesn’t come to the forefront. With the right conditions, with a seed planted in our mind by someone, something they said that took great courage on their part, that we recognize as true that begins t shift us in some way. This is a beautiful aspect of influence. Sometimes influence isn’t somebody saying something that influence on the spot. Sometimes it is someone planting seeds in our minds that we aren’t ready to hear at that time, or they hear and know it’s right, but they just can’t act on at that time due to some resistance in them from somewhere. Something is blocking it. Like me catching/seeing myself behave in a way with Karen that I know is not good, but I know what I need to do but just can’t do it then in the moment. I need to wait for some amount of time to settle down and get to space when I can do what I know is needed. Waiting for some vulnerability me to calm down, not feel so raw, and come back later and do what I knew I should have done when it first occurred. 9:40 It just some time to come around to doing it. 

  • I respect that humans are very complicated and a mixture of light and dark. Both exist in each of us. We can partition the two. We can and do hold both. We can all behave in dark ways that don’t match up to our stated values. We are capable of holding paradox.  

  • I respect the subtlety of the wisdom that comes from deep intuition informing us to do something versus actions and ideas that come from a more ego-centered place, the small mind. Learning to distinguish those two is no easy thing, but so useful and powerful.

  • I respect the power of an open uncluttered mind to generate useful wise options and solutions. 

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