The Restless Spirit
Conscious Creativity and Intuition in the Workplace?
By Tom Zender
"Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it."
– Dee Hock, founder of Visa
One of the lingering questions about creativity in our work is, "Where does creativity come from?" Science might argue that creativity is a human function, centered in the brain. Spirituality offers that creative ideas originate from a higher source, divine mind, and emerge from our interconnected soul.
Aristotle and Plato argued that our brain is a physical thinking mechanism and that our mind is seated in our innermost being, our spiritual soul. Given that our soul is joined with the greater spiritual intelligence (Universe, One Mind, God, Spirit and other names) suggests that we are connected with this infinite source of creative ideas. Quantum physics offers that creative energy is flowing to us 10,000 times faster than the speed of light - in no time. Our brain is then stimulated to recognize the idea at the speed of thought, or about 500 milliseconds - a literal split second, the "aha" moment of creativity. Call it intuition. Our job is to be receptive to this process.
We can be in this creative flow by conscious choice, not chance - Conscious Creativity. Anytime we are desiring creative ideas to appear, why wait around for them? We can accelerate them with a time-proven process practiced by millions of people worldwide - meditation. This easy practice is the key to cleaning out the blocks in our mind and to allow the free flow of creativity, whether we meditate in our workplaces, at home, or elsewhere.
Meditation for Conscious Creativity is easy and I have been practicing it in the same way for 35 years. I learned this technique from Dr. Herbert Benson, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Harvard University. I read his perennially bestselling book, The Relaxation Response. Meditation continues to bring Conscious Creativity into my career, job, and work. While there are many techniques for meditation, here is the simple process I use:
Twice a day, typically morning and evening, find a quiet, silent place with low lighting. Set a gentle, soft alarm to go off in 20 minutes. Sit comfortably in a chair, or lie in bed or on a couch. Rest your arms on the chair’s armrests or at your side. Close your eyes and relax your body. Silently say an affirmation, "I am now receptive to the flow of divine ideas in my work."
Begin by noticing your breathing and continue to focus on it. As you relax, start saying to yourself silently the word “one” each time you exhale. Continue to be aware of your breathing and silently say "one" with each exhale. If a stray thought enters your mind notice it without judgment because this is normal, and then let it dissolve. Stray thoughts will subside in time. Just return to your relaxing breathing and exhaling with the silent word, "one." Continue doing this until your alarm ends your meditation.
Give yourself a little time to bring your awareness back to where you are. Slowly open your eyes and continue to relax until you are ready to get up, stretch, and start moving around. Note any creative ideas that came to you during meditation. Be grateful for the experience.
It is common practice to meditate twice a day for 20 minutes. The effects of meditation are cumulative (the benefits build up over time). Effects might be felt immediately or might take several days or weeks to become noticeable. Some meditators like to have very soft, low volume music (or a rhythmic sound) in the background, though others find it distracting. Some take a short "meditation break" at work, on an airplane, in a park, anywhere possible. Use of the word "one" is not mandatory. Other words, such as "om," "ah," or "God" (and others), are often used in recognition that meditation is meant to be a spiritual practice.
Conscious Creativity in your work can begin today. Use the simple practice of meditation to open your mind and be receptive for the amazing new ideas that will shift your career, job and work to new levels of success.
The Conscious Lifestyle: How a Leader Should View Power
By Deepak Chopra
Reprinted from LinkedIn, March 8, 2013
(In this series of posts we're discussing the qualities of leadership using the acronym L-E-A-D-E-R-S. The fifth letter, "E," stands for empowerment.)
Power is so tempting and so controversial, connected at its worst with corruption and runaway ego, that I'd like to state some general principles first as they pertain to a conscious leader.
Empowerment is the fruit of successful action. Doing and power go together, since without the power to sustain your vision through difficulties and resistance, your vision will wither away. This isn’t ego empowerment, which is driven by the demands of I, me, and mine: – as a successful leader, you are empowering others at the same time as you empower yourself.
The belief that power isn’t compatible with ethics, morality, and spirituality is misguided. At the deepest source of consciousness, there is a field of infinite possibilities. Packaged with every possibility is the path to achievement. Both unfold from the same place at the same time. Your power is validated by how smoothly you can manifest your goal, with minimal resistance, struggle, and opposition.
There is a dark side to power, however, known as the shadow. This is where anger, fear, envy, greed, and aggression create problems for anyone in power, warping their good intentions and tarnishing their ideals. You must be aware of your shadow, and then you can defuse it by integrating the dark into the light. When the war between the dark and light side of power is transcended, you find yourself wielding the power of wholeness.
I realize that these principles sound abstract and perhaps foreign, since the usual model of power is a sliding scale from zero power to total power. The helpless and impoverished are at zero; absolute dictators are at total. But there is no sliding scale for inner power - Socrates and Saint Francis exerted tremendous power over the future without any basis in material power, but who remembers the name of the richest man in Greece or Italy during their lifetime?
A good model for present-day empowerment might be Warren Buffett, who exemplifies the principles of inner power as a guide.
Saw his main strength early (a talent for asset management) and kept on building it.
Remained connected to the support of family and community.
Obtained a modest home and maintained a simple personal lifestyle - in other words, he didn't measure his power by outward trappings.
Worked for the benefit of his whole team and investors who depended upon him.
Has been humble in the face of enormous success.
Measures his life by the standard of personal happiness and satisfaction.
Does his business scrupulously and with complete transparency to his investors.
Comparison with the fallen and disgraced captains of Wall Street's great investment banks shows that Buffett’s way is superior by any measure, including his reputation and public image as well as material success. But you don't have to aim for billions to empower yourself using the same principles. We’ll go into this more in the next post.
(To be cont.)
Resilience: Journey of Emergence
Resilience Beyond the Age of Oil
How Integral Practices Are Revolutionizing Business in the Middle East
By Elza Maalouf
President, Integral Insights Consulting
Corporations, like cultures, cannot skip a development stage. Life conditions in the Middle East have remained at tribal levels with egocentric overtones, which has resulted today in the sweeping revolutions of the Arab Spring. Corporate cultures in the Arab world were no exception to these values, but women and the millennial generation are changing these patterns and investing in human capacities that will outlast the Age of Oil.
I have been working with Middle Eastern corporations for over a decade as a consultant and advisor to business founders and CEOs. Over the years, I have seen corporate training seminars delivered by Western consultants and trainers with the same exact content as it was delivered in the West as if the region were an extension of Anglo-Saxon values that just needed to catch up. Even the best theories from management science fall short on achieving the intended results if they are not tailored to the memetic contours of each culture. In contrast, my approach honors all cultures, value systems, and takes into consideration the environment and habitat in which they operate.
Specifically, the framework I use originated from the emerging science of memetics based on the seminal work of Clare Graves and Don Beck. A meme is like a gene that contains units of cultural information. Memes form into general groupings such as politics, language, economics, religion, education, health care, architecture, etc The natural organizing principle that brings these grouping together is called a value-system or vMEME. According to Spiral Dynamics Integral, there are eight known value systems that define the human evolutionary process called “levels of existence.” When we solve the problems of one stage of existence, we create the problems for the next level. Thus, the evolutionary pulse of human nature and culture keep the chaos of existence in balance in an endless quest towards higher meaning and purpose
My philosophy towards corporate consulting is an unconventional one. I have been using this whole-systems approach to bring purposely slow but sustainable change to Middle Eastern corporate practices with an eye on a new era that goes beyond the Age of Oil. My goal is to support Arab businesses and governments to focus on their most valuable resources: the millennial generation and women. The next stage of development for the corporate world in the Middle East is self-reliance, gender equality and non-discriminatory practices against the young generation.
One of the very first things I do, is to try to determine the different levels of development in people and corporate practices in relation to where the culture is centered. While the Middle East seems to be centered around the Tribal-Egocentric value systems, the second and third levels, strategic Enterprise values are emerging with their own undertones. New and old businesses are changing their ways in the Middle East, led by visionary leaders who are evolving best practices within their own companies, influencing and being influenced by the emerging Enterprising levels in emerging markets around the world. If this sounds like best practices of global corporations, it is. And it’s being brought to the Middle East by a new generation of business owners who see value in approaching business practices from an integral perspective. These business owners are educated in the best Universities, and have little tolerance for stereotypical views of Arab business.
A BUSINESS WITH A FUTURE
I introduced this approach with a long-term comprehensive plan a few years ago in a multinational, mid-size Middle Eastern corporation with 6,000 employees and operations in Europe and the Middle East. The Chairperson, who is the co-founder of the company, was seeking a whole-systems approach to her company and team’s development to compete in the 21st century. She took the initiative to attend many seminars, including Spiral Dynamics Integral and various integral trainings, and found it necessary for her top executives to attend intensive training seminars offered by me and the main architect of this framework, Dr. Don Beck. This was a necessary undertaking that exposed her key executives to an early glimpse of what was to come. My journey with the company was an upward one, emerging along the spiral of life and higher business values. None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for the visionary leadership and bravery of the Chairperson.
This corporation has substantial holdings in fast food and casual dining in franchises as well as homegrown concepts, and dealt with global partners on routine basis. When the Chairperson founded the company she developed best practices based on her own innovative ways and years of research of businesses who were on the leading edge of corporate practices. Like most company after three decades of success, people and systems will need a boost of new blood and new systems to help the corporation emerge to where it needs to be. This is when the Chairwoman stepped in as a CEO, and started the journey to take the company to the next level. Together we diagnosed some of the issues that will allow the company to move forward. These were normal practices in many medium to large size companies around the world, however the CEO had a larger vision to strive for global excellence, with a world class team.
DESIGNING A NEW ROAD MAP
Visionary integral leadership develops indigenous practices that fit the lay of the land of societies and look for ways to make these practices resilient. This was the type of leadership I had working on my side. Together we designed a comprehensive long-term plan that would functionally re-align all the jobs for the future “pull” with a new company mission. In the words of Buckminster Fuller, we were designing a new system that made the old one obsolete. The change we took on had to have indigenous content in targeting the best interest of the customer while aspiring to meet the same metrics and best practices. It is important in the Middle East for a business to uphold the warmth and sweetness of family values while remaining committed to the bottom line. The Enterprising system in the region is emerging with a tender communal feel that honors tradition and respects values of hospitality.
After deciding what kind of change the company needed and identifying the outcome we wanted to target, we embarked on both evolutionary and revolutionary change. Together with the senior leadership, we spent three years “righting the ship” to establish order and structure in the company to mitigate any global wildcards. Within the first few months of implementing the vision, many of the practices were changed and replaced with updated ones. Rigorous key performance indicators were introduced in every department to ensure alignment toward the company’s roadmap. During this crucial phase, everyone stepped up and took accountability for the next journey in righting the ship. The CEO was adamant about sharing and including the teams across the board to participate and own this change. As such, the team had a tremendous sense of ownership and ingrained sense of loyalty in wanting to see the company through its next phase of evolution.
By nature, the Enterprise fifth level system is optimistic, and seeks to uncover the mysteries of the universe through objective observation and scientific rigor. These were the qualities of the new management team that set us on the course towards transformation. We uncovered hidden talent within the company. Enthusiastic workers with management capacities who were behind the counter were placed on a fast career track to become store managers. Matching talents to jobs created such a dynamic work environment that productivity and job satisfaction hit all time highs within a few short months. A process of internal debate continued, where systems and processes were constantly updated and adapted to the waves of change. With an open and flexible culture led by aligned executives, we continued to see improvements in sales and bottom line returns, but also in the happiness of team members.
Over the few short years since the beginning of my involvement, the company’s transformation of top management is close to complete. We continue to provide a truly integral approach to our commitment as new management recruits are indoctrinated into the company whole-systems culture. A big part of the CEO’s vision for her people was to create a habitat for human potential where everyone could come to work as a whole person. As such and as an evolutionary leader who believes wholeheartedly in transformative practices, corporate training is not limited to the newest advances in management science. We delve into depth psychology, emotional intelligence for the whole person, relationship training and parenting from an integral perspective, and Hero’s Journey training.
This Second Order change that is both evolutionary and revolutionary is the cutting edge that represents the future of corporate management in the Middle East and emerging markets. It combines best practices and integrates them into a whole systems approach that brings resilience to the forefront. This type of transformation is rarely achieved if ever because it requires the coalescence of power, authority and influence of all the stakeholders within the corporation. This is precisely the kind of bravery the region needs to become a serious contender in a highly competitive global economy.
Launch of Institute for Cultural Evolution
Some very exciting and promising work is being done by Evolutionary Leaders Carter Phipps and Steve McIntosh.
Carter and Steve are partnering with integral leaders Elizabeth Debold (Harvard Ed.D. and former editor of EnlightenNext) and Professor Michael E. Zimmerman of the University of Colorado to launch a politically-focused think tank called The Institute for Cultural Evolution. The think tank will use the insights of the integral/evolutionary approach to address some of the pressing issues we face today.
As a first project they have written a proposal for building political will for greater action on climate change. They are also working on a campaign to reduce political polarization in America. The think tank's overall focus is on reducing the political stagnation that results from the culture war through strategically targeted communications and media designed to influence key subsets of the American electorate.
For example, with the issue of climate change their plan is first to influence thought leaders within the environmental movement to help them recognize how many of the current messages around climate change can feed polarization and be politically counterproductive. The think tank's strategic goal is to make meaningful political action on the environment less radical, less leftist and less threatening to the economy and mainstream prosperity. Their Climate Plan goes into detail about specific tactics and the types of media they will use to get their message out to two key demographic segments: countercultural environmentalists and mainstream liberals. Their Campaign Plan for Climate Change Amelioration is available to download on their website.
Both the Climate Campaign Plan and the Polarization Campaign Plan are works in progress. These documents will be circulated within various community networks, and Steve and Carter will be giving public presentations as the initiative develops. Andrew Cohen and Gerard Senehi have been working with this team and helping them in their efforts, and will be serving as board members in this nonprofit Institute.
We hope you will join us in supporting their efforts. See http://www.culturalevolution.org/