MindShift Integral

TRANSFORMATION – INSIGHT – LEADERSHIP


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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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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.