MindShift

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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Integral Leadership: Feeling into the Moment

How does it fit together: intuition, integrity, leadership, (construct) awareness, subtle states? Here is the attempt of an architecture. Presentation at the Integral Theory Conference, San Francisco,  July 18 -21, 2013 

integral leadership caspari

Academic Paper download here: Reams & Caspari_ITC2013

Powerpoint: ITC California 2013 Reams Caspari


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Transformative Processes and Adaptive Pushback. Mapping out Stages, Patterns, Mechanisms, Immunities to Change and How to Respond

shiftWhy are we resisting Transformation?

In the global change arena we see more and more the need for leaders to know about what happens in transformative processes inside out in order to play a different game. It is ironic that our best whole systems thinkers are becoming ever more frustrated at the lack of visible change in response to knowledge and evidence about growing threats to sustainability. The problem is more often than not that the intrinsic mechanisms of transformation are still not widely understood nor mastered. Transformative processes that are supposed to respond to adaptive challenges require a fundamental shift in perspective and meaning. In order to be able to design, catalyze, foster or lead such shifts, leaders need to recognize stages, depth and width of the process, need to identify patterns of systemic pushback, know what to do with immunities to change and how to handle the usual resistances and escape mechanisms.

The following Powerpoint shows maps of

  • stages and stations on a archetypical transformative process
  • pushback and escape mechanisms tipically occurring in relative accordance with the stage of the process
  • generative interior and exterior condition that can foster a successful process
  • a selection of toolboxes, techniques and methods that are helpful in order to bring participants back on track

What are your thoughts? Download the presentation here:

looking into transformative processes and adaptive pushback

Paper Presentation during the Conference on ‘Transformation in a Changing Climate’, University of Oslo, June 2013.


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Publication – Integral Leadership

Jonathan Reams, Anne Caspari (2012) : “Integral Leadership – Generating Space for Emergence through Quality of Presence”, Journal of Wirtschaftspsychologie 3/12

Abstract:

This article outlines a view of integral leadership as integrity with a quality of presence that opens spaces for what wants to emerge. A focus is on describing Heifetz’s notion of adaptive leadership as creating a holding environment for work to be done. This is framed in terms of how integrity, subtle energies and intuition combine with late stage ego development capacities to create a quality of presence that enable requisite spaces to be opened up and held. This view is contextualized in relation to existing discourse in the field and the authors’ experience in leadership development work. In addition to laying a foundation for the view of leadership used, the concept of integral is examined in relation to integrity. This forms the basis for quality of presence, while intuition is shown to be an essential function in the author’s conception of integral leadership. Intuition is explored in relation to stages of cognitive/ego development, which are also explored in terms of their function and contribution to integral leadership. Future lines of inquiry arising from this conception are presented.

Key words: construct aware, integral, integrity, intuition, leadership

Zeitschrift Wirtschaftspsychologie-3-2012