Category Archives: MKP men in the world community

Putting the Heart Back Into Business

Just under two years ago, I had a life transforming moment.

I was sitting in the South Bank in London, with friend and fellow warrior Nicolas when he asked me whether I was ready to write a book about the alternative approaches I had developed to running my business, Thornton’s Budgens, a supermarket in North London.

And indeed, I was – the title rolled off my tongue: “How To Put The Heart Back Into Business”.

As it happened I was just heading off to India on a sabbatical. I spent the first week in Goa, in the monsoon, the only guest in my hotel, with chronic diarrhea – the universe was telling me I needed to be alone and reflect. And in that alone time, I became clear that this was my life purpose.

From that emerged my mission – “I create a heartful world by encouraging people to open their hearts, starting with my own.”

Over the eight years of Thornton’s Budgens, we have created what we call “The Community Supermarket That Really Cares”. Which means we put people and our planet first, trusting profit will follow – with people being anyone who works in our company and those in our community.

In that role we have done seemingly crazy things, like setting up a farm on the roof of one of our stores, as well as more sensible things like reducing our energy consumption by more than 50% and showing the global supermarket industry that putting doors on their chiller cabinets does not in fact cost you sales while substantially reducing your carbon footprint.

With our people, I realised that what we needed to do was to create a “safe container” at work. So that, just like in an iGroup, everyone would feel safe to share, without fear of judgment or rebuke. What I also saw was that the key to a thriving company is truth; and that to speak your truth, you need to feel safe.

A recent Radio 4 programme on Secrets, looked at the opposite of truth, offering evidence that holding secrets is psychologically damaging and can impact on your ability to work. Conversely, sharing something with someone creates a shared bond.

This is of course not surprising news to you Warriors, but it is to the business world. Can you imagine if you were as free to be you at work as you are at your iGroup?

To help create this safe environment we developed the Heart Programme that encourages team members to open their hearts, by creating a safe environment for them to fully show up.

It is based on the work of environmental activist Joanna Macy and involves four steps – gratitude, feeling the pain, seeing with new eyes and action. We start with a meditation and sharing that would not look out of place in an MKP Circle.

Through the heart programme’s sharing circles and the use of a talking stick, which ensures everyone gets to speak without interruption, people feel valued, get to contribute their ideas and have an input into the direction of the company.

And it works – since we implemented this we have got straight 100% scores in our “mystery shopper” scores (we used to get very inconsistent scores) and our sales have increased by 6%.

We are in the process of setting up a Council that will become the policy making body for the company, which will see 5 or 6 team members sit along side the three existing board members.

Inspired by Darshita Gillies, we intend to have at least one Millennial on it. These are people born between 1990 and 2000, who have a very different outlook on work and what they want from it – a “civic-minded generation with a strong sense of community both local and global”.

We are even considering having representatives from other stakeholder groups – customers, the community and someone representing the environment.

And we are in the process of redefining roles so that everyone does only what they love to do.

I am so excited by the prospect that soon I will only be responsible for our vision and purpose, innovation and the conscience of the company! It is what I love to do and it gives me space for another chapter: the development of Heart in Business Limited.

I formed this with 6 others all from MKP, Celebration Of Being, Nobleman, or Embercombe connections – including Nicolas of course! We started last year with a mission: “Heart in Business Limited will enable companies to put people and our planet first, trusting that profit will follow.”

In this way, I can get closer to my life purpose by sharing my experiences with others.

So why, I hear some of you ask, does this matter? Well, if you look at the latest Gallup Poll on workplace satisfaction, it shows that globally 87% of people are emotionally disconnected from their work.

And since we spend half of our non-sleeping time at work, this may explain the amount of turmoil there is in the world right now.

As businesses employ such a large percentage of the workforce globally, we can do something about this. In fact, I would argue that it is our duty to do something about it.

The good news is that most studies examining the profitability of companies who look beyond maximising shareholder value and consider their wider stakeholder base, have shown that doing this delivers better financial results.

So what is the dream of Heart in Business Limited?

“The dream of Heart in Business Limited is that companies put people and our planet first, trusting profit will follow. The dream is of companies where we have a purpose, companies where we make a broader contribution to society and see the world beyond the next set of quarterly profits. Companies where we consider all our stakeholders – our employees, our community, our planet and of course, our shareholders.

Companies where we care about the impact on people, whether those people work in our company, are customers, or live in the community in which we operate.

Companies where everyone is doing the job they want to do rather the one they are good at, where there is passion, authenticity and love; where we are all making a difference, where we are all heard and understood, where we all hear and understand our colleagues.

Companies where there is heartfelt leadership, where we co-create plans and where wealth flows. Companies where people can be themselves, without fear of judgement or punishment.

Companies that care about our planet, who consider future generations; companies that take into account what we are leaving behind for our children and grandchildren.

This is our dream of how companies will thrive in the future, indeed some companies already are.

In fact at Heart in Business Limited, we believe it is the only way forward.”

I am encouraged not to be alone on this journey, sharing the vision with other great movements such as Conscious Capitalism, the Blueprint for Better Business, B.Corporations and The B-Team.

I believe that now is the time for change – and that more and more businesses are ready for that change.

So I end with a request, knowing of course that the answer might not be yes! I need to get this message to business leaders – so if you are involved in organising business speaking events, or know contacts who are, or if you lead a business which you would like to be more heartful, then please get in touch!

To find out more, look up or contact

Andrew Thornton

The Hero’s Journey Continues

As editor of this magazine for over two years, a key focus of what I brought to its development was looking at the relationship between the adventure of our lives as men and the mirror we share with the adventure stories we read, saw and heard as children and continue to be drawn to as adults. Stories including Braveheart, The Matrix and the Lord of the Rings all hold a powerful place in activating my imagination and creative spirit. As my understanding of the mirror these stories hold up to me grows, I realise my life is in no small way an adventure, and (boldly) the hero at its centre is me. At the centre of your hero’s journey is you. The power of the timeless story structure of the “hero’s journey” is not just entertainment but a vital and crucial component in unlocking the mystery of who we are and discovering what the hell it is we are doing here.

In 2000 I met with Michael B and began a journey into myth, story and the unfolding truth of my life. This journey continues to this day. When I went through my NWTA in the cold December of 1999 at Sopley, an initiatory fire was lit inside me that roared and raged for the first five years of my time inside this community. Over the last eight years it has mellowed into a flame that burns bright and constant and a little less fierce.

Until my time came in Sopley, I’d felt like a child locked in an adult’s body. What I’d been looking for was a rite of passage that would unlock my potential and my route into adulthood. The men I spoke to on that weekend all nodded in recognition of this simple fact: we had all been waiting for this. We had not had it when we needed it most, as teenagers raging against the machine of life with no solid boundaries to hold us. My boundary was found within the walls of the prison I eventually ended up in.

I was magnetically drawn to MB and his work on teenage rites of passage. In the first few years we worked as a small team forming what became the Quest. Men from this community sponsored me to go to America with M to develop the work further with our U.S.brothers. The first Quest weekend was put on at Hazelwood House in Dorset in 2005. When I came home to my then girlfriend and told her the story of that weekend, I wept with relief at having found a path I knew was mine. At that point I was fired up and impatient and wanted to move things forward, fast – too much time had been wasted already. MB had been doing this work for ten years by that time and I was awed by his commitment and time served. It’s now thirteen years since I began my own journey in creating a rite of passage for young men and to a great extent I’m just getting into my groove.

During that first weekend at Hazelwood I identified what I believed would work, for me, based on my own life experience. This was about time out in nature, working with a powerful story and encouraging the participants to write about their own life experiences. I moved on from the Quest and developed a programme over the next five years into what became the charity, Write to Freedom (W2F). We work on Dartmoor mainly with young offenders and serving prisoners released on temporary licence.

I’d been looking for a powerful mythic story that would work on the weekends for many years. Stories had come and gone with limited success. Earlier this year I woke up in the middle of the night being “attacked” by a story that wouldn’t leave me alone. I gave up trying to get back to sleep and wrote it down. Magically it has now become a central part of the W2F weekends. I’m now focusing on publishing it so it can reach as wide an audience as possible. The story I’d been looking for had been inside me the whole time. It came to the surface of my consciousness when I was ready to tell it and make it a part of the work.

The journey through the development of the Quest (which went on to become abandofbrothers – see for more details) to the creation of W2F has for me been an ongoing initiation; a series of painful, challenging and often joyful and energised adventures. My own growth into my sovereignty, learning and developing my leadership, has been fully informed and influenced by my work within the Mankind Project.

I stepped onto the Primary Integration Training (PIT) leader track eight years ago, worked intensely on it for three and stepped back till earlier this year. I took that step back to test the mettle my leadership in the crucible fire of my work in the wider world. I was recently Hot Seated for full PIT leader. As a result of a simple shortfall in actual PITs led, I got a “not yet”. A decision I respected. I’m ready when I’m ready. What I’ve learnt over the thirteen years since joining this extraordinary community is patience. Everything unfolds in its own time not mine. I just need to keep showing up – which I do.

I can see many years of work ahead to bring W2F to where I believe it belongs in our community and in the world. I may be a lot older before this comes real, but I’m on my journey and in my groove. I’m offering young men what I didn’t have as a teenager: a place for them to come and be with safe authentic, initiated men; to be fiercely and lovingly held, challenged and supported. What we create is a place where young men can learn and grow without having to wait as long as so many of us did. If there are men in the community who want to get involved, support or pledge, contact me.

Caspar W

Mission: By opening my heart and speaking my truth I create an abundant world of healing freedom and love.

MKP Men provide clean water and toilets in Ghana

As many of you know I have built an African Home Lodge in a very poor community on the coast of Ghana. And I’m passionate about introducing people to African life, culture and community in a way that deeply benefits the very poor local population.

Over the years, when I’ve been faced by a deep need locally that I was not able to sort out by myself, I’ve turned to my MKP community to ask men here if they are able to help out. You men have very kindly helped out a number of times, particularly in my long-standing efforts to protect breeding leatherbacks and other turtles that come up on to the beaches to lay their eggs.

Recently the chiefs and elders in the community asked if I could help them by opening a number of clean water points in the villages and by building toilets.

The Mkp funded toilet

 The lack of clean water and absence of toilets mean that children in particular suffer from illness, and often death, from diseases associated with poor sanitation. Several water points already existed, but had been closed by the water company because the community had fallen behind in its payments for the water. £400 was needed to open 6 water points which would supply clean, safe water for many, many families.

I put this problem to our MKP community and within 4 days a number of very generous men had pledged £800. I took the money over on my most recent visit. We are establishing a Water Committee who will regularly check the running of all the water points to ensure that each water point controller operates the water point properly. Once this is in place we will pay off all the current bills and open the points.

With the extra £400 Dzita-Abledomi village asked us to build their first ever toilet. With the help of volunteers we built the compost toilet you can see in the picture.

This toilet will be used by a number of families. It has two chambers. One is used, then closed off to compost while the other chamber is operating. After 6 months the compost is available to be used on crops as manure. The family members no longer need to go into the bush to go to the toilet and have the benefit of good manure for their farms. (Suitably inscribed, in case you can’t make it out, “Donated by MKP UK”! Ed.)

Prayers and libation in the blessing ceremony to open the toilet

A development like this needs a ceremony!

The community have asked me to convey their deep gratitude to the men from MKP who funded this toilet. I am deeply honoured to feel our effect so far into this poor community.

Hugh N





The children who will benefit from this work