As part of Ubiquity’s Humanity Rising series, Peter Merry hosts Malcolm Stern, psychotherapist, author and the co-founder of Alternatives in the UK, the UK’s longest running weekly mind body spirit events company. Malcolm’s new book “Slay your dragons with Compassion” is being released this September. In the book, Malcolm explores practices for managing loss, informed by his daughter Melissa taking her own life in 2014 and how he coped. Building on that, Peter and Malcolm will go into some tools for thriving amidst the kind of instability and loss that we are facing individually and collectively as humanity today.
In conversation with my brother Tim over Christmas, we identified a pattern in the kind of work that we are doing, that helped us to become more conscious of its essence. It emerged as:
Rapid / Resilient
Innovation, of the
Tim was drawing specifically on his experience of transforming some of the most challenging kids from Yarmouth (Nova Scotia, Canada) into leaders in a (r)evolution in youth work (see particularly the video stories of the individuals). I was drawing on the last two years of work helping to transform a fear-ridden business unit in IBM BeNeLux into one of their biggest growth and innovation centres. Sensing into that, we found this deeper pattern that connected to the rest of our work.
Rapid : The U-Process combined with Chaordic Design that form a core part of the transformation technology we work with is proving itself to rapidly, powerfully and sustainably shift groups of people from old ways to new ways. Once through that first iteration, it proves itself to beResilient.
Indigenous : We work from the principle that the next step for a group already exists within the system, and that it is our job to facilitate its emergence. The client is the content expert, and what we do is release their highest creative potential to create what they really care about. Insight from models such as Spiral Dynamics Integral enable us to make the approach fit. There are usually also content insights which we feed in, which become part of the unfolding scenario that emerges in its essence from the client.
Scalable : In enabling the emergence from the local system itself, we always notice a deeper Source Code or DNA that is relevant for the broader sector as a whole or even wider. There is a core approach that can be transported to other contexts. The Code is scalable. The Content is indigenous.
Innovation : Truly new ways of being and doing always emerge.
Next Generation : There are two levels to this. It is always of the next generation within the system itself – so the product of those creative agents who are leaning into the future. And it is always of service to the planet as a whole and the next generation of human beings living here. The reason for the latter is that the space that we open and hold connects people to their individual and collective essence, which is as we know ultimately that of the Universe unfolding with the general directionality of increasing compassion and embrace.
The essence of Integral Resilience is to maintain a dynamic balance between an individual’s, culture’s and structure’s wholeness and identity on the one hand (“agency” for Wilberians), and partness and belonging on the other (“communion”).
For the individual, resilience involves being clear on my Purpose and identity at this time whilst being open to sense and rapidly adapt to changes around me.
For a culture, resilience involves clarity of collective Purpose and Principles of behaviour, whilst being open to pick up the feedback of the world around and respond adequately.
For a structure (organisational, governmental, technological etc), resiilence involves the capacity for the structure to continue to deliver whatever it is that it is meant to be delivering, whilst learning from and adapting to continual feedback and more intense shocks from the world around.
When agency and communion are in a healthy dynamic balance, innovation, evolution and emergence occur in the dance of creative tension. We align ourselves as the evolutionary impulse of Spirit unfolding.
Having seen this film, and having to face what I already knew, the question is, “so what now?”. We either deny what Gore says, or have to embrace it fully, and there seems little space in between. I choose to embrace it. Now what?
Firstly, we can make the most of the relatively harmonious world we are currently living in. Any problems we believe we have at the moment are going to look pathetic compared to what is awaiting us around the corner. So enjoy and appreciate the space and opportunity we currently have.
Secondly, use this precious time to do what we can to prepare ourselves, our organisations and our societies to engage this coming shift in as skillful a way as possible. Develop individual, cultural and structural (ie Integral) resilience. Resilience means to me the capacity to hold one’s centre whilst at the same time responding flexibly to the intense changes around us. It includes the capacity to learn rapidly and self-organise for emergence to a new way of being and doing that is fit for the changing reality. What this looks like in detail is something we are currently working on giving words to and will be putting out there soon. Watch this space!