MindShift Integral


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Leading change: First in the subtle, then in the world.

If you want to lead change – personal, organizational or societal – you have to intimately know how change works. This includes experiential clarity in knowing how to overcome – and help overcome – resistance towards change. It also includes knowing the ever so subtle, almost unnoticeable shifts in your own inner experience when facing a challenge to change a personal reality in the face of a conscious or unconscious resistance. This is especially true if the change you want to induce is not just incremental change, i.e. getting better at something, but a real transformational shift, or even a paradigm shift, personal or otherwise.

This is what Bill O’Brien or Otto Scharmer talk about, when they tell us how much the `inner place of an intervener´ matters to the success of an intervention.

217868_454397854583456_2109798001_nLeading self comes before leading others. Let us illuminate that ‘blind spot of leadership’ and take a closer look at what happens in our own spaces first. How do you deal with your own personal change? How do you overcome your own resistances when they are well hidden from your own insight and logic? How much do you know your own inner quiet place where you examine your own assumptions, what you are unconsciously knowing (e.g. “I am not good enough”) and can you unlearn what you know? What you are ignoring (“I can’t bear feeling that”)?  Are you aware of what it is you are secretly protecting?  What encountered knowns and unknowns do you leave unexamined? With which consequences?

The answer to these questions lead to the areas, where leaders of change need to develop a kind of mastery that is similar to that of martial arts: In dealing with the inconspicuous, lightning fast impulses, and in handling most uncomfortable pushback, shadow impulses and resistance.

We tend to think that facing change and leading change are about the bold moves, that paradigm shifts are spectacular, that holding unknowns or paradoxes is something very noticeable and in your face. This is not the case –  the trick lies in the subtle, in the almost undetectable vibrational shifts and minute impulses that are going on in the background of your own mind, without you noticing them consciously.

There is this old Zen joke, that has been around, about the old fish that meets to young fish. While passing he friendly asks: hey guys, how is the water today? After he is gone, they turn to each other and ask: what water??

Here, the unconscious is exactly what the word says: what is least conscious because it is most usual, most familiar, most every day. This is why people don’t easily change even their most unwanted realities: “Every day” is what we call a reality that is constructed around homeostatic systems with adaptive ‘set points’ around money, happiness, confidence, relationships, success, etc. What are your assumptions around this that hold you, like invisible rubber bands, in your old reality? Noticed any patterns lately?vortex

What you might notice if you are being challenged to change even a minor set point or a status quo in these areas are things like; becoming tired, embarrassed, distracted, ill, angry, intellectual, nice, pleasing, aggressive. Now become quiet and listen in, feel in: what happened inside, in your ‘inner place’ just before the avoidance mechanism?

nimbusD'aspremont_webBecoming good at identifying and handling these impulses needs a different set of skills and capacities. It needs noticing where your attention goes in automatic and where it is stuck. It needs awareness of the mechanisms that you use to escape from the ‘inside of a feeling’ that you protect yourself or others from. It needs the willingness to feel something that is deeply uncomfortable, oftentimes painful. It needs the will power to stay and feel it through. These minute moves are silent, not loud; you need to catch frequencies, not words and mental concepts; you need to move at the speed of emotion, not slow changing matter. Draw faster than your shadow. And, just like in martial arts, the resistance and impulses can be used to our advantage: there is usually a treasure to be found at the bottom of each illusive impulse. Follow that resistance, use its tension and its origin for your own goal of becoming whole again and greater awareness, and come out shiny at the other end.

You learn to stay some more and make this new, unchartered unfamiliar territory your place. You start playing with new possibilities you didn’t know were possible before. The choice field widens, and welcome to prototyping. You can start leading and teaching the martial arts of change. New realities emerge from the subtle first, and the rewards are priceless.

Are you ready to play?

Photos: Cloud in a room. Artist: Berndnaut Smilde/Photo by Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk.

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An Update: Mapping out Transformative Processes – Stages (1), Adaptive Pushback, Fallacies & Escape Mechanisms (2) and Tools & Methods for Course Correction (3)

The following slides picture transformative processes in their stages, the adaptive pushback and escape mechanisms that usually get triggered on the process path, as well as a variety of tools, methods and conditions (internal and external ones) that can be used for course correction or are favourable to the process. The diagrams picture patterns that I have observed in my work as coach for personal adult development over the last 15 years. These recognizable patterns are indicative of the stages of the process, its depth, the amount of resistance and the type of assistance needed. They have proven useful as guiding indicators, both for personal work and professional coaching. They are valid for both individual and group processes, although they would slightly differ for the collective transformation.

I used the U-shape as a visual metaphor, as it lends itself neatly to common archetypes of transformative work. The invitation is, however, to use your imagination and picture this as more than a linear process. Transformative, non-linear processes don’t follow a neat path with steps from 1 – 8. Rather, much like a holographic image, all of the process goes on all of the time. Just feel into this: some of the escape mechanisms and fears aren’t even triggered unless there is a goal that leads out of comfort zone.

The approaches for creating favourable conditions and the methods and tools for course correction that are listed are examples of tools that I have personally worked with and that have also proven extremely helpful. The Transformation Intensive Courses are conceived with most of these tools, approaches and frameworks in mind – an eclectic mix of instruments, used with experience, subtlety and high precision to make this work as simple, deep, light, and exciting as possible.

Listen here to my conversation with Ken Wilber about these 3 Diagrams and my work so far.

mailing list entwurf 1 Pushback - Mindshift IntegralCourse Correction - Mindshift Integral

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Leading Change by Leading Self

10906142_766865953399258_3939350231287480436_nThe training we propose is somehow different. We invite participants to take a very close look at how they operate in a seemingly counterintuitive way that is actually post-logic, and thus extremely powerful. Should you be interested in taking this closer look at your most sabotaging behaviours, your more familiar limitations and your immunities to change on the one side and at your heart felt dreams, latent potentials and performances on the other side, we invite you to come and see. You will be working on your own self as the basic playground. You get to know the mechanisms that operate in the more hidden dimensions of your consciousness – the mechanisms that are really fast, automatic, hidden from introspection, not accessible by logic, negative in their impact and yet most often protected by an ‘immune system’ that is geared to preserve a homeostatic equilibrium – a status quo in your life. If you have been trying to change a certain level of your performance, your financial status, your relationships and have had limited success, you will have an inkling of what we are on about.


The next course will be held in Stockholm, September 31/ October 1st. In only two days, you will get an experiential clarity about how these mechanisms work, how they play out in your life and a good idea what to do about it. This works like an extra effective debug on your own inner is the only work operating system combined with a well-placed acupuncture treatment. This is the only kind of work that can potentiate all your other skills and competencies as a coach, trainer or professional. This is lean.

Leading change by Leading Self is a two day full immersion training for coaches and leaders, who are

  • familiar with the latest tools, models and approaches ranging from Agile methods to Holacracy, networked organizations, Integral Theory, Systems Thinking and Self Organizing teams.
  • still experience difficulties in getting expected results and leading change in highly complex environments.

Otto Scharmer, MIT, author of “Theory U: Leading from the future as it emerges” gives us a key insight: “The success of our actions as change-makers does not depend on what we do or how we do it, but on the inner place from which we operate”. This is like the Master in martial arts who knows that external actions will only be as good as the internal state, and that developing our inner world is just as important as developing our skills and toolbox.

The key to increasing our impact and becoming true Masters of our trade is to ‘upgrade’ our inner world to make it fit for the hyper-complex environments we work in. This is the “aikido move” of self leadership. This course will let you explore your inner world and perform some truly impactful “aikido moves”, which will greatly help you in your job and in other parts of your life.

 Leading Change by Leading Self: September 30 – October 1st, 2015  Stockholm, Sweden;  Venue: Crisp AB, Sveavägen 31 SE-111 34 STOCKHOLM.

Costs: Early Bird until August 30th, SEK 15.000. Afterwards SEK 17.000. excl. VAT; Prices include breakfast, lunch and coffee. Please ask for a personal introduction on skype. Write to anne@mindshift-integral.com.

Next full Transformation Intensive (9 days) will be in Germany, near Berlin/Stettin: October 31 – November 8, 2015. Please ask for details. http://www.schmagerow.com

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Reality is a process

Deconstructing transformative processes

I want to take a closer look at those change processes where simple, technical solutions don’t work.  Here, different approaches are needed. If the solution is not ready at hand or fails repeatedly the challenge is most often a complex adaptive one. Resistances and pushbacks are arising and make it difficult to get to the root causes of unwanted behaviour or undesired personal realities. This is where it gets interesting.

At the bottom of these phenomena are patterns with a combination of properties that are

  • difficult to detect (fast, automatic, hidden, with defraction),
  • difficult to understand (non-logic, pre- or non-conceptual origin, based on incorrect ‘meaning-coupling’), and
  • actively protected with what can be described as an immune reaction against the intended change: the wrong meaning-coupling or mapping error is considered of existential importance – hence resistances and pushback are getting more intense the closer the individual gets to the source of the unwanted behaviour (see graphic)

However, with the right understanding of these nature of these processes, a willingness to explore despite of discomfort and resistances and the adequate tools, transformation is not only possible, but can take days instead of lifetimes, hours instead of years.

deconstructing patterns of change


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Shortcut to Happiness. Really?

Shortcuts – I love them.  I am a somewhat impatient person. Mix that with a sense of entitlement and a knack for quick pattern recognition and you have a perfect recipe for catastrophe, aka avoiding things that are uncomfortable.

girlThe thing with shortcuts the way I had taken them, was that they didn’t get me faster to where I wanted to go, they made me avoid where I needed to go.

The point is: there are some processes serving our own development and growth that can’t be avoided or cut short, as much as we would like to. And quite often we have to deal with what life throws at us that makes living, loving and growing real hard, real painful and certainly not something we would choose consciously, given that choice.

The crux of the matter is that these difficulties and also the pain are intrinsic to the process of growing, meaning they belong inseparately to it in a way that without them there would be no process or, at least, it would be a different one. Shortcutting to a known solution would be avoiding it altogether. A shame that the thinking mind doesn’t always get that.

The work is this: We can work with the resistance, we can ease that pain and milk the whole damn process for what it’s worth. This is where the gold is. How on earth do we get there…? How to stay, not leave. Participate, not hide. How do we dig that gold and harvest insights and new perspectives from it.

This is where “legitimate” shortcuts come in. I love this concept. Now, legit’ shortcuts are ways that get you through thechange-illustrationnecessary steps in a way that you minimize the discomfort and you maximise insight and alignment. One of the transition points of this transformation is marked by you becoming so dis-identified with previously held positions or perspectives or lenses that now you can allow for completely different ideas, insights and solutions. A shortcut to happiness? Maybe yes, certainly a shortcut towards new choice fields and the power to act on that new choice.  You decide the rest.

There are tools and techniques you can learn that make you familiar with the basic understandings, skills and competencies you need for staying in the loop and to navigate the phenomena you meet in your own consciousness and mind. Then you learn how to feel for what wants to emerge from that space of source and clarity, how to consciously use your widened choice field and create and consolidate new realities.

For me this has proven invaluable. It saved me from me, in a way.

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Beyond The Map And The Territory:


Relational dynamics, processes of collective transformation, „we-space“ – a comparison of integral maps and the territories that go with them.

By Anne Caspari and Mushin Schilling[1]

 “AQAL is a map of samsara, a map of the prison, but if you’re going to make a prison break, you need a good map.” 

Despite the many efforts in the last few years around the much vaunted ‘we-space’, only meager work and reflection has been done in Integral Theory circles on the dynamics of relationships and communities. Much of what does exist concerns integrating social and sociological hypotheses into an overall framework or refining theoretical and meta-theoretical knowledge creation. When it comes to actual phenomenological research into a relatively new phenomenon, though, the field is still wide open.  

vortexSo when we start to connect meta-theory with the practical application of group-dynamic processes and their emergent characteristics to gaining new insight – for “insighting” – and to finding new processes and products – for “prototyping”  things get really exiting.  … Read the full article here: –Map-territory-article

  [1] Translated by Mushin from the article in the Integrale Perspektiven issue june 2014:

f8472f56cb Beziehungsdynamiken, kollektive Trasformations
prozesse, “we-space”, – ein Vergleich integraler Landkarten und der dazugehörigen Territorien. Integrale-Perspektiven-Juni2014 (2)



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Integral Without Borders

Community of Practice ConCall

Working with Resistance in International Development –  A Concall with Ken Wilber, Anne Caspari and Integral Without Borders

Our third Integral Without Borders Community Call was on December 7th 2013. As you may know, our intention with these IWB sangha calls is to co-create the kind of ‘integral community’ we want, one that is deep and wise in its content, supportive in its interpersonal connections, and world-centric (even kosmo-centric!) in it’s moral embrace. Each call will focus on an aspect of integral practice in development with certain practitioners leading on these topics and with participants contributing examples from their integral projects.

The topic of this call was diving deeper into  “Working with Resistance in International Development.”  The call was facilitated by Gail Hochachka of Integral Without Borders. Ken Wilber and Anne Caspari discussed the deeper and finer issues  of Theory U and transformative processes, that Anne had mapped out in her earlier work (Diagrams – working with resistance). We discussed the different phenomena of restistance and adaptive pushback that are usually surfacing as recognizable patterns in these processes and their relationship to stages of development, states of consciousness and the shadow. Then we went also to explore the difference between individual and group processes,  a research on collective insighting with Bonnitta Roy and the Alderlore Insight Center, that Anne is also involved in.  Since all of the participants, including Ken was really interested in this research at this ‘fresh edge of discovery’, we will keep you posted on the outcomes of that.

Listen to the recording of the call here (a donation to IWB would be appreciated)


U diagram 1


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