While the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution is being rammed down the throat of humanity, our organisations have collectively produced numerous outcomes that no one really wanted – burnout and loneliness, inequality and hunger, relationship and ecological collapse. By some estimates, more than 7 trillion dollars is wasted annually across the globe, due to employee disengagement.
Rapid digitisation, new ways of working, disruptive innovations, system-shocks and upheaval like COVID, the rise of robotics, block-chain, AI, fragile supply-chains, volatile market-prices, an aging society, social-shifts, Gen next, the search for purpose and meaning through work, life-time learning, career mobility, corporate responsibility, diversity and inclusion, along with agile ways of working, are just some of the issues facing all businesses regardless of size or sector. Unceasing transformation is the new normal and it demands a new way of leading that is fundamentally different from what we are used to.
It is clear the old mindset of leadership and organisational development is no longer serving us. The old mechanistic, top down, silo’ed approach compartmentalises activities in an effort to make things easier to control. Organisations are treated like machines, with people classified as ‘human resources’ alongside other inputs like capital and energy. In this way of thinking, value and success have been measured narrowly on growth and profit which can lead to poor decision making when it comes to externalities like the environment and fairness. This mindset has contributed to the stress we face today in the workplace and wider economy where there are still too many inflexible, unsustainable and ultimately fragile people, organisations and communities.
“In order to grow, we need to know ourselves. To understand what triggers certain behaviour, we need to identify the root cause.”
The Root Cause of our Collective Crises
In spite of what you may read in your daily newsfeed, the truth is that the biggest problems we face as a society today cannot be solved through technology alone, because they are not a product of technology. The root cause of our crises is our ever-growing anti-life approach. Working for the common good and aiming to follow the principle guideline that ‘life creates conditions conducive to life’ is not some kind of saintly or spiritual altruism, it is in everyone’s enlightened self-interest. Changing the mindset of individuals and the culture within businesses must include creating learning opportunities for everyone involved – from the lowest to the highest-paid employee.
Business can and must be a force for good in the world and change starts in the hearts and minds of each individual. Creating a regenerative intention and culture within an organisation ripples outwards and transforms entire industries, communities, and regions. The future of our planet requires we adopt the logic of life – a timeless ethos – which takes its inspiration from nature. By recognising that our organisations are complex, relational systems (rather than machines) we can begin to create conditions for our ecosystems to flourish, adapt and evolve. Organisations must balance the needs of stakeholders rather than species, with the ultimate goal being resilient, conscious living systems. Nature is regenerative. Our organisations and systems must learn from the natural world because this is our home. We are nature.
“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.”
Balancing Inner and Outer Dimensions
To be regenerative we must work the way life works, creating conditions that allow life (and all stakeholders) to thrive. To become a conscious regenerative leader means to Lead by Nature through balancing inner and outer dimensions.
For the Phoenix Leader
The ‘inner’ is connecting to our true nature within; tapping into our essence so we can lead with authenticity, coherence and purposefulness. The ‘outer’ is about leading in harmony with nature, creating generative spaces where trust, responsiveness and developmental learning thrive. This inner-outer coherence allows us to create regenerative potential in others.
For the Phoenix Organisation
The ‘inner’ is the culture, values, meeting conventions and decision-making protocols that pervade the organisation’s way of being. Creating a more agile, peer-peer, diverse and inclusive ways of working unlocks potential. The ‘outer’ is the strategy, customer value propositions, supply-chain, and wider stakeholder relationships that drive how the organisation shows up in the world. Reaching beyond ‘sustainability’ into ‘regenerative business’ we help stakeholders (including society and the environment) flourish through the products, services, experiences, and communities the organisation facilitates.
“Small shifts in your thinking, and small changes in your energy, can lead to massive alterations of your end result.”
The Paradigm Shift
A shift in leadership consciousness comes with a shift in our worldview: the way we perceive our sense of place and purpose in this world individually as a leader, and organisationally as a living system immersed within the living systems of society and wider ecology of life. It takes courage and grit to embrace such a shift in the midst of turbulent and challenging times, while seeking to keep the wheels on the road. The good news is that this shift is nothing more, nor nothing less than learning to open up to our deeper humanity. When we choose to open up to how life really is, beyond the constraints, constrictions, habituations and acculturations we have picked up along the way – shift happens. The challenge for us in becoming conscious, regenerative leaders is in embracing this shift within ourselves, while courageously nurturing space for the shift to occur within our teams and stakeholder communities.
We all know business-as-usual leadership and organisational development is inadequate for dealing with the challenges of the day. And we know that a shift in mindset requires a transformative journey for leaders and employees. The good news is, this transformative journey has an evolutionary imperative that seeks harmony with life while tapping into the essence of our humanity. In this way, we are Leading by Nature. The Logic of Life (rather than the logic of the machine) creates conditions that allow our employees to flourish, to bring their whole selves to work, to become self-responsible adults, while also contributing to organisational missions and value propositions that enhance life.
“The “aha” moment is a validating experience for your efforts and at the same time changes your paradigm of the world in favour of a more accurate one. Campbell simply says “it wipes out the ego.”
Leading by Nature taps into nature’s wisdom by shifting from a mechanistic mindset into a regenerative mindset that enables individuals, teams, organisations and stakeholders to flow, adapt and evolve in these volatile times. As a culture, we no longer feel a deep empathic connection with life and the ecological systems that sustains all life on this planet. Instead we primarily focus on outer forms of technological innovation and material progress, while deprioritising inner wellbeing and consciousness. Regenerative practice starts and continues with personal development and self-mastery. It is not a tool but a practice of conscious participation and cocreation. By living in right relationship and practicing the art of transformation, we are realigning with life itself.
Working regeneratively is working in an evolutionary way. In a problem-solving and solution-scaling-oriented culture, it is revolutionary to invite a more humble approach. There is an inherent Logic of Life that we can learn to listen to. It is this intelligence and wisdom we now need to help our organisations thrive in the volatile times ahead. Paste on agile ways of working to a disconnected culture and the time and money will be wasted. We need culture and structure to be aligned. We need the ‘yin’ to infuse the ‘yang’, so we can start to attune to Nature’s Rhythms. In this way we will find the flow of the living organisation while people become more human, more alive, more whole, and more in harmony with Life. When Being infuses our Doing, we have Conscious Doing. Outter actions align with inner purpose. Purpose then, is not espoused or forced, but lived from the inside-out. It comes alive through us and we become regenerative.
“If you tend to a flower, it will bloom, no matter how many weeds surround it.”
7 Regenerative Principles for Leading by Nature
Through learning from living systems we can help our organisations to become more regenerative. These 7 principles are informed by science (from a range of scientific disciplines such as biomimicry, facilitation ecology, evolutionary biology, complexity theory, living systems theory, regenerative design, complex adaptive systems thinking, ecological psychology, quantum physics, and more). They are also inspired by indigenous wisdom and other ancient wisdom traditions.
1. Life is life-affirming.
This is the over-arching principle. Life creates conditions conducive to life. Conscious, regenerative leaders seek only life-affirming activities and outcomes. They remain vigilant and watchful for anything that could be toxic, life-denying, or degenerative.
2. Life is ever-changing and responsive.
Change is an inevitable aspect of life that we can embrace for the opportunity and leverage it offers us in learning, adaptation, resilience and evolution. Life learns and adapts through emergent, developmental and evolutionary dynamics. When we tune in to life we can discern these dynamics and apply them to our living-organisations.
3. Life is relational and collaborative.
Everything in life consists of inter-relating, interconnected systems nested within each other. Understanding these interconnections frees our perception from seeing and thinking in boxes or silos and instead into systems. Life is relationships; systems nested within systems. From the cells in our body to our neighbourhood, society and economy – relationships abound. Sensing the relational nature of our organisations helps us notice any blockages in flow and nodal points for leveraging emergent change.
4. Life is synergistic and diverse.
Life thrives on diversity – there wouldn’t be life without diversity! Monocultures of sameness or group-think undermine creativity, innovation, adaptability and resilience. Likewise, tensions of difference act as crucibles for learning and development.
5. Life is cyclic and seasonal.
Life unfolds through ebbs and flows of cycles and seasons. We are all cyclical beings in need of the processes that all seasons bring: The emergence of spring, the intensity of summer, the letting go of autumn, and the deep restoration and reflection of winter.
6. Life is flows of energy and matter.
Life depends on innate ecosystem flows and cycles that enable recycling, reuse and renewal. There are innate ecosystem processes that life depends upon, and as such, everything flows in a cyclic interconnected way. Designing and operating with this understanding of energy flows enables us to recycle, reuse and renew in ways that do not undermine life’s ecosystems.
7. Life is pervaded by a living systems Source Field.
Both shamanic and scientific evidence points to an all-pervasive field that “in”forms everything. We have been brought up in an age where the understanding of this field is largely absent from how we see the world. As we evolve into regenerative leadership consciousness, we sense the interconnectedness of all life and recognise this Source Field of interconnection.
“We seek the fire of the spark that is already within us.”
The Journey to Oneness
Those already on this journey know that this is first-and-foremost about a shift in consciousness, which can be neatly articulated as a shift from separateness to interconnectedness. Yet, there is nothing neat-and-tidy about awakening into this journey of a lifetime. When things feel out of control, it’s easy to fall into the illusion that you don’t have any influence over your experience of life. Sometimes riding the rodeo of life can feel like you’re on a bucking bronco. If you’re depleted, hurt, sick or struggling – it’s ironic because these are often the times that you have to exert the most amount of effort to get your internal point of view organised in a healthier direction. Contrary to what many personal growth and development thought leaders teach, we know from experience that it’s okay to sit in a cycle of feeling like it’s too hard to make the changes you want to make.
Sometimes you need to sit stuck in the mud before you’re ready to soak in the tub. The gift of The Great Awakening through a long cycle of disruption is that, eventually, you do become strong and resilient. You learn to shift with the changes at hand. Expecting the unexpected makes us fluid and malleable, capable of rising to meet the challenge of whatever gauntlet Life throws down. Life is inherently biased towards evolution, coherence and unity. In this way, it’s not really throwing down a gauntlet in a negative way. We are merely being invited to ask ourselves some vital questions as we co-create our evolution and become proficient at allowing Life’s Intelligence to work through us. We, humanity, often need to be challenged before we are inspired to make change. The greater the challenge, the bigger the change ahead.
“On your best behaviour, Tiger, you are a lovable, alluring, warm-hearted, altruistic, honourable, hard-working, pleasant, independent, engaging, dynamic and idealistic sweetie pie. When you act up (which is often), you are a rash, hotheaded, reckless, infatuate, quarrelsome, caustic, moody, predatory, rebellious, disobedient, and irreverent rascal.”
– Suzanne White
The New Year of the Water Tiger
As we head into the New Year proper, 1 February 2022 ushers in the Chinese Lunar Year of the Water Tiger. The Tiger’s motto is “I win”. The Tiger is a doer, a mover, a shaker and an accomplisher of world-class projects so this is the year to dream big and act on those dreams. Make no mistake: we are headed towards some truly beautiful transformations. In order to get there, we need to ask ourselves some vital questions.
- How good am I willing to allow my life to get?
- How willing am I to be relentlessly authentic?
- How willing am I to allow my Heart to be my compass for my life?
- How willing am I to take risks that defy everything that I have known as “truth” in the name of following my Heart?
- How willing am I to heal the karma of my self-worth and to truly take up my right place and fill my right space in the world?
- How can I show up in my life aligned with love for myself and compassion for everyone else?
- How much do I trust the Logic of Life?
- Do I believe in abundance and do I believe I deserve such abundance?
- Am I willing to stand up for what I believe in, even if I stand alone?
As leader of your own life, we invite you to really sit with these questions. Your answers will reveal to you what needs to be healed, released, aligned or brought to your awareness in order for you to cultivate more resilience. We are designed to work in collaboration with the flow of Life’s Intelligence working through us. This collaborative relationship is pretty unique in that we have the option to allow Life’s Intelligence to use us to fulfill its biased imperative towards unity, greater complexity, evolution and coherence… or not.
“The real weather is not the weather outside but the weather inside your mind!”
Conditioning the Mind
The conditioning of your mind, which begins to happen before you are even born (and holds thousands of years of ancestral experience in addition to the narratives that emerge by virtue of your own life experiences) often blocks the highest expression of consciousness seeking to express itself through your human story. We are at the precipice of a very interesting revolution in the human condition. We are in the midst of a quantum revolution, the Age of Regeneration. This new age opens up the possibilities for conscious co-creation and the intentional and deliberate use of the mind in service to Life’s Intelligence expressing through us. We are evolving into conscious collaborators with the cosmos and conscious regenerative leaders are guiding the way.
We cannot evolve into the full potential of our individual stories (and the collective story of humanity) if we do not decondition our thinking. The beauty of a mind that understands the role of conditioned thinking is that this understanding gives us the power to cut the shackles of our conditioned thinking. When we understand that we can influence our thinking and control the use of our brain, we dramatically amplify our ability to consciously harness the the power of the cosmos, and to create greater states of health, well-being and conscious expansion in our lives.
“You mind is the most powerful magnet, what you visualise your mind attracts it and materialise it in your real-life. What you think, you become. So, think wisely.”
Ignite the Flame
When we understand that our brains are collapsed artifacts of the quantum Source Field of information that is deliberate and intentional from its inception, we realise that we ARE the manifestation of Spirit in form; Energy in matter. Our mind, body and spirit are unified and coherent in their functioning and we are better poised to discover the elegant solutions to the challenges facing humanity today. Phoenix Leaders are, by definition, conscious and regenerative. In this way, they have mastered life, not through conquering but through surrendering, not through fear but through love, not through exploitation but through emancipation. Degenerative behaviour arises from disconnected opaqueness that clouds and clutters the unfolding process of life. Regenerative behaviour arises from connected coherence that creates space for tensions to transmute into crucibles for creativity and learning.
This is the Way of Nature, and it is as fresh as it is ancient. Nature is the way.
“There was nothing a phoenix loved so much as heat.”