I was born in Kiev, Ukraine - May 4, 1970. Since childhood, I was drawn to the sky and was in rapture from aircrafts. I still have school notebooks, with drawings of different models of aircrafts, mainly those which I invented myself. Since those early years I dreamed of being an aircraft designer. And in the fifth class, I decided that I will learn the profession in Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology (MIPT). The time came for admission to university, and my father, who was in charge of the department at the Institute of Cybernetics in Kiev, told me that to manage flight of a plane is much more interesting than to build it. So in the end, I transferred from Physics Department of Kiev University (since I didn’t enter MIPT from the first time) to Faculty of Management and Applied Mathematics at MIPT under much more competition for one place than at admission. I was surprised to find that I’m easily handling the program of course, and even passing tests in advance, provided that I follow discipline and not neglecting studies till session time. Stories about the light in the reader rooms at night at MIPT, in my case were a myth. Over time, at the final years studying, I was very interested in the area of project management. Having participated at the first program for future managers of the Ukrainian projects in the U.S. in 1995, organized by the Economic Development Institute of the World Bank, I am working in this field in Kiev: corporate culture of project management, project portfolio management, process optimization and improvement, etc. My full professional profile is available at LinkedIn.
Until my student time few people in my life extremely inspired me to believe in myself and they brought my hidden strengths to the fore. Nadiya Dmitrіvna - a teacher of Ukrainian language and literature in Kiev high school #32: Ukrainian language was not easy for me and many classmates knew it better than I did. But she put me A - for the effort. It just inspired me, and I tried even harder.
Svetlana Borisovna Kishko - an English teacher at the same school - I went to her group on hearing that on her lessons people were sweating from work, while we had a deliberate atmosphere. Thanks to her, I know English. Our acquaintance began with the incident that she broke up my vocabulary with handwritten words, threw it out the window and told me to rewrite all the next day - it seems like I behaved wrong on a lesson :) I remember our conversation during a break, when I spoke that I need not to be limited by frames - I would always go beyond them. Sometimes she also puts me higher marks, I blushed and felt obliged to work - and tried, and succeeded. Her poetry evenings where we read English poetry, staged plays, sang songs - still vividly appear before the eyes and recalled the warmth in my heart.
I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never —”
“You lie,” he cried,
And ran on.
When I was a student at Physics Department at Kiev University, lecturer in Physics Mr. Korsak gave me great confidence in my abilities. He just said, "Lebedev could solve everything!". And when I was facing challenges in the homework - I search through a lot of literature, looking for new approaches and ... was solving. As a result, frequently, it turned out that from all the group only I had solved the problem.
Since childhood, my parents taught me sports. I did figure skating, swimming, until my mother took me to the ski section. It was in the fifth class (1982). Since then, skiing became a main sports in my life. In eighth grade, I had 3 seconds extra at a distance of 10 km to the standard of the Master of Sports in the championship of Ukraine in Sumy. How to overcome fatigue, giving yourself for 100% I knew already then.
In 1991, there were two important events in my life: at August 7, my wife Irina gave birth to daughter Anastasia (in 2005 she received the spiritual name Alakananda. A year later, in 2006, wife also received spiritual name - Atandra), and in December I came to a lecture on the philosophy of Sri Chinmoy, being a second year student at Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology. I was very surprised to read at the poster "Joy and Happiness" at the student cafeteria in Dolgoprudny that "the world famous Sri Chinmoy Marathon team sponsors more than 500 events around the world, from the fun starts for children till multi day races." Knowing about physical intensity and explosive dynamism of sports, I have not been previously seen this combination of dynamism with spiritual practice and meditation, which in my view could be held only in calm conditions, with no distractions. I really liked the approach of the Master to our life: in order to reach spiritual heights, it’s not required to give up work, family and go to an isolated place. You just need to bring a new dimension to your daily life and this is the practice of concentration and meditation on the spiritual heart and communion with your inner world.
With wife and daughter at Hawaii, 2012
Since then, for 22 years I have practiced meditation under the guidance of Sri Chinmoy. I'll never forget the first meeting with him in New York in 1995, where I went to participate in the Project Management program. Being his student for 4 years, this was the first meeting on the physical plane. And most of all I was struck by his eyes: I was expecting to see and I saw the glowing and the heights of the real Yogi. But also, I saw mastery over the matter, absolute practicality in the outside world. Such a combination I have not seen previously! I also remember that my mind said, 'Look, the great Master is before you, admire him! But in the heart it was very calm feeling - he is your true friend, and you know him for many, many years ...
This approach, focusing on the spiritual heart and the manifesting the power of peace, balance, self-confidence and determination to achieve the goal, began gradually to yield tangible results in my life. In 1994, I ran my first marathon (42.195 km) in Moscow in 2:46:04. The fact that I ran a marathon on my own and with good time caused a great surprise to the Olympic champion skier Lyubov Zabolotskaya, which was my ski trainer at that time. When she learned that I turned to vegetarian diet, it battled her completely.
I need to mention that the moment I began to dream of a marathon, was participation of my father in Moscow International Peace Marathon in 1990. He came home tired and exhausted, but glowing with happiness. It was his first marathon in 3:08, which he ran in 49 years. In 2002, after I completed a 13 hour race in Moscow and 47 miles in New York, my father and I ran together the Berlin Marathon. At 37 km, passing me, he waved me and said, "Come on!". But I could not. At 61 years he finished marathon in 2:53:31. My time was then 2:59. And in 2005, he inspired me incredibly, having run the marathon in Warsaw in 3:03! Once, at the limit of exhaustion at the 3100 mile race, I thought that I would no longer run long distances. But seeing the example of my father, I understand that the finish line is still far ... Here you could read more about my father running bio.
If after my first marathon in the 94, somebody would say that in two years I'll run 47 miles - I would have laughed. However, in 1996, the first time I ran 47 miles in New York in 6 hours, 44 minutes. Since then I have run this distance eight times and even won the race in 2002 with a time of 6:18. And if at that time somebody would say that in 2 years I'll get to the start of the longest footrace in the world of 3100 miles, I would say - it's impossible! But in 2004, I became the first man from the post Soviet countries, who crossed the finish line of this race. Below - my words at the finish:
"I will run 3100 miles again and again and again, because there is so much love and inner dimension ... I do not know how to describe it all. Incredible to feel it. And I'm so grateful to God that He has given me the opportunity to make a small contribution to the progress of mankind, to the establishment of peace and love in the world "
Sri Chinmoy hands me the trophy next
day after my first finish in 3100 mile race in 2004
In all these cases, when new unexplored horizons were beckoning me and challenged stereotypes of life, I was seeking the inner impulse and the warmth of the heart, which has become my indicator for the right direction. If I had listened to the arguments and cooling dawns of my mind, I would have never found out what we can do ...