Micheline Nader was raised amid tragedy. Born in Lebanon, she lost her father at a young age. After the loss she moved to Paris, where she embarked on a successful international career as a healthcare administrator and businessperson. Her work took her to Canada and the United States together with her husband, NPS Pharma CEO Francois Nader. But all the while, she was haunted by those early traumas, and sought a way to move past them.
Nader says it was the idea of a dolphin that showed her the way. She was getting ready to move from Canada to the U.S. to follow her husband, who had just been hired by a big pharmaceutical company. But the move meant abandoning roots of her own, and she was nervous about what the future held. “I was reflecting on that, and for some reason, I could just see the image of a dolphin.” She laughed off the vision, but the same afternoon she went out to lunch with a friend, who had brought her a surprise gift: a small blue crystal dolphin that she set down on her plate. “Ever since that time I remembered the dolphins. I started swimming with the dolphins, and becoming more and more interested in them.” She sees the mammal as a metaphor for conscious awareness and playfulness.
The dolphin also plays a role in her new book. Nader has distilled years of workshops, reading, and Jungian psychology into a self-improvement regime she calls the Dolphin’s Dance. Her book by that name, subtitled “Discover Your True Self through a Powerful Five-Step Journey into Conscious Awareness,” leads readers through a method of discovering and then reversing patterns of negative thought and behavior.
Nader will discuss the book at a meeting of the Human Resources Management Association of Princeton dinner on Monday, December 14, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Princeton Hyatt Regency. $50. For more information, visit www.hrma-nj.shrm.org.
Nader’s globetrotting career has included healthcare leadership positions in France, Canada, and the United States. She studied nursing and earned a master’s in public health at New York State University (American University of Beirut campus) and a doctoral degree in healthcare management from the prestigious Paris-Dauphine University of France. She began her career as a hospital administrator in Beirut, where she was an executive at a 420-bed university hospital and later was an advisor to the French government and helped establish a 600-bed hospital in Congo. In Quebec she was vice president of operations of the Carex Group, managing long-term care facilities and establishing the Chateau Westmount, a private nursing home. She continued in the healthcare business in the U.S., acquiring a chain of five nursing homes and advising businesses on managing long-term care facilities.
All throughout her career, Nader says she was interested in dealing with the losses she experienced early in her life. “I wanted to make sense of what was going on,” she said. She realized that small setbacks were triggering memories of her much greater losses in the past. “Why am I so scared, or why is that emotion triggered to the point where I am having stomach pain when I get a report that’s in the red? What’s that about? That led me to more deep diving and trying to make sense of it.” Nader says she became a “personal transformation junkie.”
Her attempts to make sense of it all resulted in recognizing and eliminating negative behavior and thought patterns, which result in self-defeating behavior. Her book outlines a five-step “D.A.N.C.E.” method for doing this, which she will discuss at the December 14 meeting.
However, she says, it’s not enough to simply improve oneself. She emphasizes the importance, especially as a business leader, of engaging others and setting a good example. “It’s important to become a consciously aware leader,” Nader says. “I was reflecting on the San Bernadino incident. What could we all do about it? How can we live in a loving world when people are crazy all around us with their erroneous belief systems, because that’s what radicalization is — erroneous beliefs.”
Nader quotes the sixth Century Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”