We are experiencing a global crisis of leadership, a crisis of conscience, and a crisis of consciousness. In a little over 18 months, the globetrotting pandemic ripped apart a façade of progress and development to reveal the paper-mache brokenness of our current planetary systems. It also underscored our innate interconnectedness and interdependence with all sentient beings on this planet. However, this seems to have gone unnoticed by those in power. They are once again busy trying to use the crisis to push through policies and programs that people would find unacceptable during normal times.
In the wake of Covid, we have reached a state of impasse – a gridlock where our old stories, narratives, metaphors, norms, patterns, structures, and ways of being and doing no longer serve us. We are waking up to find we live in a profoundly damaged world of imbalance on a wounded planet. Polarisation, fracture, and fragmentation are manifesting in all their destructive dimensions within and between nation-states. The ostensibly boundary-less, connected globe is now erecting boundaries within national borders – between its own citizens – driving neighbours against neighbours, turning citizens into vigilantes. Growing injustice and inequality coupled with social, racial, communal, and religious rifts are tearing apart the very fabric of society.
The richest 1% owns 82% of the world’s wealth. Billionaires became 54% richer during the pandemic crisis. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, saw his fortune soar to $192.4 billion from $113 billion, while the other 99% (aka the rest of us) were locked down in our homes, lucky to receive an income at all. In fact, Global billionaire total wealth has increased more over the past 17 months of the pandemic than it did over the entire 15 years prior to the pandemic. Between 2006 and 2020, global billionaire wealth increased from $2.65 trillion to $8 trillion, a gain of $5.35 trillion. There is something VERY wrong with this picture.
“It’s a small club and you ain’t in it.”
– George Carlin
In the Hands of the Few
While the peasantry licks their wounds and rattles the dwindling remnants of childhood piggy banks, there are those within the Covid economy polishing the noses of private jets. Redistribution of wealth is alive and well within the pandemic, but not in a good way. Just like the socialism of old, the loose change of the working class has been siphoned into the pockets of global bureaucracies, big business, politicians, and union heavyweights. Billionaires have reaped a massive windfall at a time when millions have lost their lives and livelihoods. The pandemic has supercharged existing global inequalities, with the wealthy profiteering from boarding up main street economies around the world. The cult of consumerism, accumulation, and excess are devastating the planet. Fundamentalism and authoritarianism are on the rise across the globe and everyday freedoms are fast becoming a dream of the past – all for the sake of power, profit, and privilege.
At the same time, millions of people are trapped in their homes and, therefore, forced to use the digital world as their primary source of contact – both for basic services and social interaction. Whether it comes in the form of advertising revenue or the purchase of real goods, companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, and others have massively increased their fortunes during the pandemic. They have quickly converted their (quite literally) captive audience into billions of dollars. Is it any wonder that this pathologically unequal world is falling to pieces? The enforcement of deregulated capitalism with its associated free-market ideologies has crashed the world’s systems – economically and ecologically. This is no accident; it is the deliberate work of global technocrats who operate with the express purpose of ‘reshaping’ the world to their monetary advantage.
“What we have been living for three decades is frontier capitalism, with the frontier constantly shifting location from crisis to crisis, moving on as soon as the law catches up. ”
At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq’s civil war, a new law was unveiled that would allow Shell and BP to claim the country’s vast oil reserves… Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly outsourced the running of the “War on Terror” to Halliburton and Blackwater… After a tsunami wiped out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches were auctioned off to tourist resorts…. New Orleans’s residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discovered that their public housing, hospitals, and schools would never be reopened. These events are examples of The Shock Doctrine: using the public’s disorientation following massive collective trauma – wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters – to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy. Sometimes, when the first two shocks don’t succeed in wiping out resistance, a third shock is employed: the electrode in a prison cell or the taser gun on the streets.
A combination of austerity, privatisation, and deregulation has destroyed the basic infrastructure in most countries. Corporations, freed of all regulations and responsibilities, are recklessly destroying communities, the environment, and scouring the planet for the most exploitable labour and that last drop of oil with ever more invasive and extractive technology. The world is literally going to hell in a handbasket. What used to be the fanciful musings of childhood cartoons is now a reality. It’s easy to imagine that the world is being run by a handful of megalomaniacs and plutocrats. The underlying narratives pumped out through the mainstream media (that they own) have created the fertile conditions and space for the rise of such totalitarianism. You may wonder what happened to the story of development, wellbeing, and progress for all. Here’s the thing: the truth is that the world fell prey to the dangers of a single storyline.
“The recent spate of disasters has translated into such spectacular profits that many people around the world have come to the same conclusion: the rich and powerful must be deliberately causing the catastrophes so that they can exploit them.”
A New Narrative
And now, ordinary people have had enough. We, humanity, are no longer buying the official narrative. From students to farmers to housewives to indigenous tribal members. The people are out in the streets demanding their right to a just, meaningful, and dignified life. They are harbingers of the voices of people who have been marginalised and delegitimised for centuries. Slowly a new storyline is emerging that is vastly different from the old one. The new grassroots narrative sprouts from the fringes and the margins. The old, outdated hierarchy and privilege of power is dying. Those benefitting from it will use every arsenal at their disposal to maintain the status quo, but their war is already lost.
The current narrative is collapsing in the face of global crises. And when narratives collapse, revolutions happen. New shoots of hope arise and new stories are created – a New Earth is emerging. It is in our hands to reimagine our new story. Let’s imagine a narrative that recognises and respects the innumerable ways of being, seeing, sensing, and knowing for humanity and all species. One that resonates with the astoundingly diverse and stunningly beautiful web of life.
“Fear can be an effective short-term motivator; in a crisis situation, it can elicit extraordinary efforts for a short time. But as an ongoing policy, it’s a disaster. Why create an arbitrary 10 percent turnover? If everyone is doing well, everyone should stay.”
It's All Connected
The bearers of this new narrative are the rebels, renegades, radicals, and revolutionaries – the visionaries with the inspiration sparks of a future taking shape in the present. They are the ones the status quo is most afraid of. No wonder the privileged are doing all in their power to quell, suppress, and oppress the rising tides of discontent and truth. Those in power are deeply afraid. They have too much to lose after centuries of accumulation and grabbing. They will not let go with grace. Make no mistake, every chilling action is being taken to keep the truth from bursting through the carefully erected, centuries-old veneers of deception, duplicity, and deceit. Do not fall into low-vibrational fear because we will get through this! Do not be bullied or terrified into risking your health or freedom for the sake of false promises of a return to normal. Life exists outside of the paradigm we have been living in. Rest assured, humanity has been through tough times before and we always will prevail. In fact, we wouldn’t be anywhere else right now!
So often we endeavour to solve our myriad challenges in isolated ways, with the very same level of thinking that created the problems in the first place. We now need to activate a new way of thinking that embraces today’s complexity with systemic solutions. The reality is that life is interconnected, relational, and ever-changing. The more we understand the dynamics within life, the more we can learn to flow with life. At the heart of this shift in consciousness from separateness/mechanistic worldview to interconnectedness/regeneration is the embodied recognition of reality as it really is. There is a deep stillness/spaciousness, or ‘field’, pervading all life including our organisations and business ecosystems.
“Interconnection permeates the entire universe. We are all one.”
— Amy Leigh Mercree
Addressing the 4 Imbalances
An embodied attentiveness to this underlying ‘field’ of interconnectedness was an inherent part of all wisdom tradition practices for millennia. For 95% of our human history, we lived with a deep sense of this interconnectedness. We viewed life as a sacred experience. However, over the last handful of centuries, more and more focus has been applied to the reductive and rational-analytic way of attending to reality which tries to cut up this fluid connective reality into neat and tidy bits-and-bytes, so we can manage and control it. This has led to a skewed utilitarian view of life. Life is to be exploited for human betterment. We over-prioritised form-matter-doing (yang) and deprioritised formless-energy-being (yin). As without, so within. To balance the world, we must first balance ourselves. The journey to reconnection allows four imbalances within us to reconnect and find flow. These 4 areas are:
During the journey of separation we increasingly focused on the ‘outer’ world and impoverished the inner. We deprioritised our feeling, intuitive inner-being and prioritised the tangible outer-doing. This creates an imbalance inside ourselves and also in the way we perceive reality. Reality then became a collection of separate objects and subjects, names and categories. The source ‘field’ that connects all of life was ridiculed as a flight-of-fancy. Separation of matter and spirit led to the castration of nature. The journey of reconnection allows us to integrate this inner-outer dynamic of life once again.
No matter what kind of physical body you happen to be in, we each have masculine and feminine energies, characteristics, emotions and behaviours within us. These energies are always pulsing within us but it’s easy to forget to embrace and acknowledge both. When one energy becomes dominant, life feels off balance. Symptoms might include burnout, creative longing, and anger. Today’s society favours the masculine, competitive, assertive, controlling, doing aspects of our psyche and impoverishes the feminine, metamorphic, empathic, listening, receptive, intuitive aspects. If you’re feeling undervalued and stressed or unsupported and scattered then your masculine and feminine energies may be off-balanced. However, understanding these energies makes connecting to your inner wisdom easier. When your energies are in harmony you feel a greater sense of peace and compassion.
Left-Right Brain Hemisphere Balance
Neuroscientist Iain McGilchrist has extensively explored left-brain hemisphere dominance. The left-hemisphere of the brain focuses on the parts of a problem by decontextualising, narrowing down, and abstracting the problem in a closed system. This helps us to analyse by finding neat solutions and metrics to the problem at hand. However, only a solution in the context of an isolated closed system, not in a living, emergent, complex system like a business environment with ecosystem challenges. By the same theory, the right-hemisphere of the brain focuses on the whole of the problem by broadening perspective, forming connections, and viewing the problem within an open system; we seek context, think creatively (out of the box) and develop a greater understanding. It is both the knowledge of the parts (left-hemisphere) and wisdom of the whole (right-hemisphere) that we need to solve today’s problems. Learning to integrate both left-hemisphere (analysing) and right-hemisphere (expansive) attention and also engage in practices that encourage simultaneous integration of both hemispheres at the same time (like playing a musical instrument, active-seeing, dancing, or being in-flow during a creative yet analytical endeavour) is an important aspect of living life to our full potential.
The mini Ice-Age around the 16th century in Europe alongside the Scientific Revolution, the Witch Hunts, and the increasing rationalistic portrayal of nature as a resource to be plundered for human betterment, drove a hard stake of separateness into the Western mind. Over the centuries that followed, we became increasingly separate from nature, and with it, deep psychic atrophy set in. Biologist Edward O. Wilson explored how our need to relate to nature is an integral part of human development. He called this ‘biophilia’ (which comes from the Greek bios ‘life’ and philia ‘love’ – ‘the love for life’) which he saw as an innate tendency towards nature-connection. This relationship with the natural world is foundational to our physiological and psychological wellbeing and development. A sense of separateness from nature creates physiological and psychological problems (increasing fear, competitiveness, anxiety, stress, greed, etc.). These are the very root problems of the systemic challenges we as leaders and society face today.
“Most important, I learned that happiness and fulfillment do not come from pleasure but from meaning, from the pursuit of a noble purpose.”
7 Keys for Creating Impact in a Volatile World
Learning how life works, your role in it, and the practices that will increase your ability to create more of the outcomes you want are the foundation keys for Conscious Leadership. The more conscious we can become, as the leaders and change agents in our organisations, the more able we are to bring it through into our meeting conventions, decision-making protocols and everyday processes of human relating. It’s this that creates the nutritious soil from which our living organisations can truly thrive in the transformational times ahead. This is about thrival – to attract and retain high-quality talent, to innovate, adapt and evolve in increasingly volatile times. And this is simply good business sense, especially amid a societal shift that seeks a deeper sense of meaning, purpose, engagement, and creativity in the workplace.
1st Key – Life is a Movie
There are four required components we need to see a movie. A source of white light that contains every frequency of colour. A film strip that filters out all frequencies, except for the one that represents the images desired. A focusing mechanism and a screen to reflect it back to us. A movie projection is a fairly accurate metaphor to explain how we create our physical world. The source “light” is the infinite energy of the universe, the film strip is you and me, the focusing mechanism is where we place our attention and the projection screen is our 3D holographic physical world.
2nd Key – Three Fields of Energy
Through us, the Source Field of energy is divided into three key fields: Activity, Relationship, and Context. The fields interrelate with each other determining the outcomes and impact we create.
3rd Key – Follow the Wisdom of the Heart
The rational mind, while important to creating our outcomes, can only go so far. Its information is limited to only what we know and ignores the realm of the imaginative and intuitive. The Wisdom of the Heart is a path to developing the skill of combining the rational to the intuitive. It allows us to accept life as it is and opens us to a wealth of options. It also opens us to compassion and connection with our deeper selves and that of others enhancing our relationships.
4th Key – Live with an Improv Mindset
Life is complex and unpredictable. No matter how you plan, some event will turn up that was totally unforeseen. An Improv Mindset helps you take advantage of the surprise opportunities and challenges of life. It helps you flow naturally with whatever shows up. The art of living life with an Improv mindset is a skill required to live with innovation and flexibility.
5th Key – Storytelling and Ritual
Key to working with the energy of the Context field is the ability to weave a new pattern that will serve to carry you and your organisation in the direction you want to go. Storytelling is as old as mankind and through the stories we tell we create meaning of our world. Through the art of storytelling we direct the flow of energy into the new pattern and secure it into place with the rituals we create.
6th Key – Integrating and Balancing Opposites
Not only is life increasingly more complex it is also more ambiguous. There are no longer simple clear choices, no clear-cut solutions, no black or white answers. Paradox and opposing points of view are the norm. Learning to go from either/or to both/and allows us to integrate the best of opposites while minimising the negative aspects of either. Rather than fight against, we learn to include and integrate.
7th Key – Conscious Leadership
Whether we a leading our personal life or an organisation of thousands, Consious Leadership moves beyond planning, organising and controlling. We are leading consciously when we apply the other 6 keys to be of service to ourselves, others, and our world. We set the energy of the Source Field by being clear and explicit about who we are, our meaningful purpose, what we believe and the impact we are making. We focus on development, ourselves, and the people we work with. We build communities to increase a sense of belonging. This puts us in alignment with Life itself and allows us to experience the joy of creating extraordinary impact.
“When we take responsibility for how we move through life, no matter our circumstances, we become like lions; with one roar we allow our personal power to be fully expressed.”
— Leena Pate
Your Power is Much Greater Than You Can Imagine
In 2021 and beyond, we are actively tearing down all of the old, so that we can build the new. How can we construct a new Earth that is in fullest alignment with the wisdom of nature and our hearts? A world that is based upon mutual respect, love, and compassion – a world in which all of Life, including Mother Earth, is honoured and treasured? We must refamiliarise ourselves with the structure of our DNA, of the stars and planets, of our energy systems, of Life itself. We must surrender our understanding of what reality is. This involves far more than simply the structures of things. It includes how we use our voice and words. When we open up to our senses that operate far beyond the 5 basic ones, we see the miracle in every day. We easily accept that paradox is an essential part of the natural laws of the universe. Then we can work together, in community and collaboration, rather than competition. We are ALL here to be the builders and co-creators of the New Earth. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
“Dare to love yourself as if you were a rainbow with gold at both ends.”