Devolutionary Leadership

OK, here we go. Feels like the start of a whole new domain of practice…

The first book I wrote was called “Evolutionary Leadership” (currently out in Dutch and looking for publishers in English and other languages), and focused on what an integral approach to facilitating emergence into integral evolutionary consciousness in self, culture and organisation might look like. It focused on the emerging second curve in this graphic:

s-curves of emergence

The book synthesised WilberSpiral DynamicsTheory ULaszloArt of HostingPeter Senge etc.

During our recent Art of Hosting Integral in the Netherlands, the following thought crystallised, which had been hovering in the background for a while:

The manner in which our dying paradigms, behaviours and systems are let go of is going to have a major impact on the quality of the space in which the new grows.

When an apple is not picked,  it falls to the ground and rots, fertilising the soil and potentially seeding a new apple tree.

As people in positions of power in our established institutions become increasingly aware that the paradigm on which those institutions have been built is largely inadequate to deal with the rapidly evolving and intensifying challenges of the world around us, there are essentially two paths we can take:

  1. We contract into a fear of the unknown, digging ourselves into denial, and lashing out around us to fend off anything that may prove to us that which we do not want to accept, holding on to our old ways for dear life (ironically)
  2. We relax into the inevitable, and open up to the opportunities that that may offer, letting go of what needs to be let go of, in order to take the next step

It has become clear to me that an essential part of our Work that does not seem to have been given much attention, is to find out how we can best nurture the natural decay of that which wants to die in such a way that it fertilises and seeds the soil for the new, rather than poisoning the soil with toxic sludge (so the descending curve in the graphic above). This is very different to attacking and trying to destroy the old. It will go of its own accord. It comes from a place of deep compassion and concern for the energetic dynamic-balance of the whole.

As our conversation about this unfolded, I was reminded of much of the great work that we have done in supporting individuals in their dying process, and someone put me on to the work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. She identified five phases that people go through when they know they are going to die, and also that those around them go through in their grief. The five phases are :

  1. Denial: The initial stage: “It can’t be happening.”
  2. Anger“Why ME? It’s not fair!” (either referring to God, oneself, or anybody perceived, rightly or wrongly, as “responsible”)
  3. Bargaining“Just let me live to see my child(ren) graduate.”
  4. Depression“I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”
  5. Acceptance“It’s going to be OK.”

What I am interested in is how these could play out at a collective level. I remember reading an article once where someone said that individuals when they realise they are going to die get very clear about their life. The author pondered if it would help humanity if we woke up to the fact that we were part of the Sixth Great Extinction on this planet and that our survival was far from guaranteed. Would we then collectively get much clearer about our priorities?

I still notice a lot of denial around me in the formal institutions, and until we start to notice the anger I guess it means we’re not far beyond that denial. However, when the anger sets in, it may not look very pleasant. So how do we develop the capacity to help those in relevant positions to flow through these stages in such a way that they leave more fertiliser than sludge behind them? Clearly practices such as Tonglen have a role to play at individual level. However I would love to hear from people who have experience of or ideas about nurturing the natural decay of established and outdated institutions and practices, and ways of supporting leadership in this process go through a transcend and include process.

A part of the context for this for me is the approaching Fifth Night of the Galactic Underworld (as per the Mayan Calendar work of Carl Johan Calleman) – the phase that in all previous eras has heralded the collapse of the dominant civilisational form. The main difference being that in this Underworld it will happen over a period of 360 days (starting mid-November) rather than hundreds or thousands of years. All the signs are lining up so significantly that for a pattern-scanner it would be irresponsible to deny the building evidence.

So thoughts, links, references please, on how we might facilitate devolutionary leadership…

Conscious Duality (Evolutionary Time Dynamics)

As we enter this Fifth Day of the Galactic Underworld (equivalent of the crystallisation of Spiral Yellow and Turquoise in the collective field), the patterns in the evolutionary time dynamics point to this as being a new era of duality (as opposed to unity). I am beginning to feel and understand what is meant by that. (See for more on Calleman’s rigorous work on the Mayan Calendar).

The National Underworld (3115BC-2011AD) is dominated by Duality consciousness, expressing itself in our exploitative, power-driven approach to the world, and duality One Truth belief systems (Spiral Red and Blue).

The next era, the Planetary Underworld (1755-2011) is dominated by Unity consciousness, creating space for diversity, anyone can make it, all is relative, everyone is free to go “my way”, with a lack of clarity for discernment (Spiral Orange and Green).

The latest era, the Galactic Underworld (1999-2011), is dominated by Duality consciousness again, and is equivalent to Spiral Yellow and Turquoise. So what does that mean? We all thought we were moving into Unity! What it means is that all the shadows, all the negative impacts of the previous era which Orange and Green studiously avoid confronting, will be brought into the light (Orange : “Solve the problem as quickly as possible. Don’t stop to ask what the real problem is or it will slow us down in our progress.”; Green : “Don’t rock the boat. Everything is light and love. Do all we can to maintain harmony. Any negative perception you have is purely your own stuff, so keep it to yourself.”)

In the Galactic Underworld, light is shone on our reality again, and we wake up to a world in ourselves and around us that can look pretty ugly. Oh my God, what have we done? And how on earth are we going to deal with this mess, chaos and complexity? However, it also brings relief as at last all that has been swept under the carpet is now visible for us all to see. Invisible elephants in the room suddenly materialise and we can’t move on without dealing with them.

This relates very well to the description and experience of Yellow – the wake-up call that emerges out of the Dark Night of the Soul as we leave behind the comfort zone of Green and our first tier blinkers. We come face-to-face with our true self (and Self) both inside and outside of ourselves.

What this clarity of the dualities brings is an undeniable knowledge of the interconnectedness of all things. All our past actions have cast a shadow and we now have to face it. Every action resonates across the Universe. This is the emergence of Turquoise, the profound realisation of this interconnectedness. We realise that we cannot engage this any more simply through our cognitive knowing, and start to develop a different level of knowing, that feels the interconnectedness – the fullness and the emtpiness at the same time. As we lean into relative duality, we fall into absolute emptiness/fullness.

The good news is, for all of those who are yearning for the Unity consciousness, that the final Universal Underworld (Feb 2011 – Oct 2011) completes the current cycle (Spiral Coral and Teal). How many of us are around to experience that and be part of the following shift will depend on how we deal with the new duality that will be in our individual and collective faces for the next five years. This time is what we have all been training for. The time is now; the place is here; and the people are us. See you around!

The Fifth Day and Fifth Night (Evolutionary Time Dynamics)

We have just entered the Fifth Day of the Galactic Underworld (see – the Underworlds can be mapped onto the Spiral). The Fifth Day of every previous Underworld has always been a major breakthrough. The difference now is that the kind of change that happened in hundreds, thousands and millions of years in the past, is now about to happen in 360 days.

This increase in light will bring an increase in the visibility of shadow. This has already shown itself in my own inner experience and in the world news over the last few days. There will be no more hiding (from) karma. It is going to be right in our faces in the coming time – individually and collectively. This is not necessarily going to feel particularly pleasant or look very beautiful. The imbalances that have been created in our global system will surface for us to deal with. The unhealed wounds of our individual past will be there for all to see.

Critical at this point is holding our connection to the light in the Ground of Being, in which the shadow will eventually burn away. Practice, practice, practice. We are going to need it when the shift really hits the fan in the Fifth Night, starting mid-November next year. Expect to see the turbulence in our inner lives, physical bodies, relationships, economic and social structures, and ecological systems.

This is not about fear. This is about seeing clearly, feeling deeply, and acting with swiftness, precision and love. In the space that opens up as the old falls apart, we can start to play…