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Leadership trail

In September I (Jean-Paul Close) more or less blindly joined a pilgrimage referred to as a leadership trail. During 8 days we walked small Italian roads and trails from pitoresque village to village. My physical condition as a 63 year old was still in a deplorable state. It was the result of both an adventurous and exagerated lifestyle, topped with 18 month of relative covid immobility. Health had become the number one core natural value of my own society model referred to as Sustainocracy. I had personally focused very much on the welbeing of my daughters as a single father. They had become my source of inspiration to determine the core natural values of sustainable human evolution. As a consequence I extended the focus on wellness to all children of the entire human world. My own health however had received less self aware attention in the turmoil of a life full of stressful challenges.

A certain incident made me aware to pay more attention also to myself.

About five years ago I had started to address my own health and wellness by challenging my lifestyle through self reflection, awareness and experimentation with newly acquired information about myself. My voyage deep inside had taken a new dimension. As a consequence I had gradually reduced my medicine use (of about 12 pills per day) to only a few arthritus related painkillers per week. My sense of quality of life had evolved into the simplicity of enjoying nature, photography, family and friends. At the same time, and within the scope of Sustainocracy, a network of holistic health related locations emerged around the world where I could enjoy the benefits of massages, personal attention, cultural interaction and human warmth. This I also shared with many others by organizing health awareness trips, social engagement events and other types of health driven coalitions.

Letting go had become for me an exercize of internalization into the now, all the time, every instant, during each and every day. The space that reveiled itself again and again would offer so many new experiences, encounters, places to visit and all would enrich my soul by leaving a lasting impression, a cherished memory. Also these experiences were again to be released in the eternal letting go process. This is how I signed up for the trail, without expectations other than meeting again a dear friend after many years. This friend (Sujith Ravindran) was the one who had invited me to join.

Sujith Ravindran, multiple leadership author, coach and source of inspiration

Travelling to Rome was already new for me. The trail would go from a small place called Piediluco, all the way to Assisi, a territory in Italy that was to be discoverd now by me. The group consisted of 12 travellers, all men and each of them new to me, except of course my friend. All came with their packpack, a bottle of drinking water and some cash for our costs along the trail. So did I.

The slowest man walks up front

……And no one is left behind. This was the beautiful motto imposed onto the group by our leadership coach. Not an easy motto for people who are in the prime of their adult lifetime, living mainly a hectic professional and private life. As it happened, I was the slowest man due to my painful handicaps, left overs of the old injuries of careless incidents in my own lifetime and deterioration through age.

The beautiful scenary of Umbria in Italy

The first thing that I had to let go was my sense of guilt of being the one that slowed everyone down. The trail had very steep decents and rough long and steep rising paths. If I let the others go in front they would surely have lost me behind in no time. With them behind me give me a motivation to push myself beyond my limits.

The second thing that I had to let go was my pride when someone kindly offered to carry my backpack when the tough became really tough. Such pride I had let go already a long time ago when I had to depend fully on the support of family and friends to establish a home again for me as a single father with my two daughters after a second traumatic divorce. In fact, shared responsibility and cocreation had become part of the core natural values of the society vision that was born out of such experiences. A vision that determines that – our lasting wellness is a shared co-creation, not a cost nor a competition over the back of others -, a vision that was clearly present in the group process. The strongest man, that temporarily carries the heaviest weight, helps the entire group move forward better. This is a lesson in the political/financial world of competitive self centered hierarchies that still needs to be learned.

Sometimes two men decided to divide the load between them by attaching my backpack to a pole.

The analogy of real life, as it should ideally be, showed itself during the trail

Accepting this help for my self was also in the benefit of the group. At the same time I did not want to relieve myself from the challenge of carrying my own weight. Finding the right balance between self sufficiency and group dynamics became a beautiful and heartfelt negotiation. It reminded me of a motto that I had introduced into the Sustainocratic (people and institutions together) cocreation groups – what can be done by one self is done by one self, whatever is to complex or difficult, is done together -.

The slow pace allowed my fellow travellers to engage in deep conversations and sharing stories. My own attention was primarily on myself and finding my walking “cadans” in harmony with my own body. To my surprise I could manage fairly well and even, after a few days, could do my bit without any painkilling medication at all. Walking was relatively painless. Standing still, cooling down or sitting down was however a living hell for my knees. This I needed to deal with through some self determination.

Leadership archetypes

During the day, from morning till evening, Sujith introduced symbols, group rituals and basic overaching rules (such as “the slowest man”) for awareness and group cohesion. He also took his time to explain certain processes that he was taking us through. He had one to one conversations with the participants, shared wisdom and insights individually or collectively and conducted circle talks for the entire group.

Rituals

Of particular interest to me were his five archetypes of leadership (Sage, King, Expert, Magician and Commander). Although these archetypes are often visualized as particular personalities or specific functions in society, to me they are all part of ourselves and our inner processes for inner and outer harmonization or symbiose. In my own learning processes over time I had visualised this in the first logo of my own STIR Foundation, including a color code.

STIR Logo combining all achetypes

The image represents the four elements (intelligence, emotional, physical and spiritual……or earth, air, water and fire if you like) around the fifth one represented by the layers of awareness (the awakening consciousness) that are gradually revealed to us.

This is also the way I organized level 4 regional development, by gathering the archetypes together around the same table.

A few years later I visited a spiritual place in the Netherlands, the village of Steyl, where a spiritual leader had been made a Saint by the Catholic church. He had used the same color code as I had, only 150 years earlier, also with a similar significance. We also recall the Circle of Life of the Indians or other ancient native cultures around nature. We always find back this commonality in understanding our inner and outer processes. It was beautiful to see the analogy with the insights of Sujith.

I was not only the slowest man, but also the most silent one. Not that I did not want to speak. Often during the trail I was too short of breath or too concentrated on my steps. Instead I could observe and see that each of the participants was going through their own leadership development path. While my own inner process at the time of the walk was primarily physical, others had to deal with other aspects of themselves. Some encountered themselves with their inner emotions while others deepened into their beliefs or spiritual wellness. Many developed their rationality through the open dialogues that arose.

For all, each in their own way, new layers of awareness were somehow revealed and uncovered. For me it was yet again a confirmation about what I was doing every day in my daily life through Sustainocratic ventures. However with a difference. This time I was the one who was enjoying the abundance of care of the group while in the usual circumstances I am the one bringing all together, the care giver, the initiator of processes. It was rest giving for me, very comforting, and surely the type of sense of security and support by togetherness that I try to extend across the world.

All archetypes of leadership are mingled in this trail and have nothing to do with the one up front

2018 is the year of diverging realities

These two short examples are illustrative before we go to 2018 and the diverging/converging realities.

How would a monkey tell a fish what it is like to climb a tree? For the monkey it is difficult to explain. For the fish problematic to understand. They both live in different worlds. The fish and monkey excel in their own living environment, context and behavior yet can hardly imaging each other’s world because it does not belong to their daily reality. They would even deny each other’s existance.

Then there is the inspirating story of the flatlanders. These are imaginary beings that live in a two dimensional world. In their world there is no up or down, just forward and backward, left and right. How do you explain these flatlanders about the existance of the third dimension in which we can deal with depth and height too? That within these 3D we can find endless amounts of 2D worlds that run parallel and even could cross each other? And that these worlds have no idea about each other’s existance. Each of these flatlanders would also be capable of denying the existance of the other ones.

When we talk about Sustainocracy as societal alternative we also find such perceptions at human level. Sustainocracy is a different reality than what we have been used to for generations and were educated into. Just watch these 10 minutes of James Wildman showing us how we fool ourselves:

Sustainocracy is also a new dimension that has been added to our society. That is new and difficult to understand. It does not require much explanation for those who have made the step already. For those who encounter the ideology and practical reality for the first time, they tend to stay in their old patterns of reasoning. They mirror Sustainocracy against their own known and accustomed way of living. That does not work. Just like a fish will never climb a tree if it keeps swimming in the water.

MDE list.jpg

On the other hand why would an ape want to convince a fish? Or should the 2D world want to understand the 3D reality? That indeed is not at all necessary. Unless one can get clear benefits from the cross over. That is one of the reasons why new realities such as Sustainocracy came about. The current (old) human reality is destroying our habitat, including our relationships among each other and our environment. The consciousness that develops involves “it needs to be done differently”. This is already a step into the direction of a new dimension of connectedness and behavioral adjustment.

The advantage of any human being is our capacity to evolve in awareness (understanding new things) in which new dimensions become visible and challenge our behavior and lifestyle. In essence we can evolve from swimming into climbing trees and learn to manage both. We are also capable of reasoning in 2 and 3 dimensions while opening up our personal and collective evolution towards 4 and 5D consciousness. The human being has unprecedented evolutionary possibilies even during a single lifetime. This also means that certain people advance in this sooner or deeper than others.

That is how the situation arises in which different realities start to appear, diverge and mingle, colliding or strengthing each other. That does not only go for the individual but also for institutions, governance and business enterprises. In 2018 new dimensions and realities manifest themselves structurally (not ad hoc anymore) as optional next to the old one.

In Sustainocracy we position “the human being” and our core natural values at the kernel of our thinking and dealing with reality. It is all about the wellness we create together, our continuity and evolution as a species. Then suddenly different rules count than the current political and economically geared situation that made us dependent of a costly hierarchical structure. For many only this single reality exists because of their dependence on it. “It is as it is”, people state with apathy. With this attitude they reason about everything as soccer player that wants to play basketball by using only soccer rules. That cannot be done of course. It is not as it is, it is the way we interpret our reality and act accordingly. Big challenges such as pollution, deforestation, destruction of life on Earth, inequality, climate change, illnesses, etc get us to think differently. To that understanding belongs new models and behavioral patterns.

2018 stands for new societal structures that at first function next to eachother with engagement of three groups of people and institutions:

  • Those that hold on to the political economic reality and their own fragmented role in it,
  • Those that structurally engage with level 4 participation (like Sustainocracy), reasoning and dealing from a holistic approach and symbiosis,
  • Those that get stuck between the two realities.

This situation we will also encounter during the city council elections in 2018 in which core human values and cocreation have penetrated the political agenda too. An example is the Brabant Health Deal.

More and more citizens group together to take responsibility for their environment and quality of life, looking for partnerships in equality and purpose with the local policy makers. Also the political economic hierarchy has no other choice than to engage in order to avoid liabilities that can be connected to the old governance model. The new reality hence gains momentum.

Still there will be regions in which so called Trump effects can occur due to the conservative capitalists that see their position weaken. The effects are being analyzed by Otto Scharmer (Theory-U) in his recent blog. He sees it all as a prelude needed for the awareness boost that precedes change.

Anyhow, and concluding, the new realities manifest themselves, show what they are about and win engagement through self aware citizens, governors, innovative entrepreneurs and institutions. This gives both tensions and positive flows. But in 2018 for the first time they will stand side by side and fight their differences in an evolutionary battle for our sustainable future. Nature itself will add to it too assuring that it will be another challenging year full of threats and opportunities. How we deal with this duality will determine our own flow.

I myself made my choice already over 20 years ago as a person. In 2009 STIR Foundation was created to host the engagement of people and institutions that wanted to shape the core human values through innovation. And since 2012 it has its own name, framework and common denomination under Sustainocracy, which expresses itself through level 4 movements such as AiREAS, FRE2SH, COS3I and School of Talents in Eindhoven, Brabant, Netherlands, Europe and the entire world. In view of this evolution 2018 will be for me individually and collectively at the side of Sustainocracy, a wonderful year.

Flow, the new reality

Every person has authentic talents that make a difference within our sustainocratic movements in the “City of Tomorrow”. It is remarkable how people florish when they get the opportunity to engage and deploy their skills in freedom and equality with everyone else. We realize that every person is unique, with his or her unique contribution to the eco-system that we live in.

When we formulated our 5 core conditions for sustainable progress as guiding principle we automatically abolished the need for hierarchical structures. We introduced the dynamic human clustering around priorities through engagement. Anyone can participate. Any newcomer brings in his or her specific energy and habilities affecting the group(s) as a whole. Each cluster contains numerous entities, from citizen’s to government officials, innovative entrepreneurs, scientists, etc. All primarily get involved as human being, skills and institutions are instruments. No one is more important than the other. Every one is valued for their unique contribution and added value to the process.

City of Tomorrow

The City of Tomorrow eco-system of engagement

The result is impressive. A new human eco-system appears that functions as a powerful contrast to the political economic hierarchy that we got used to for many millennia. Many thousands of individuals engage within the different clusters and create their own abundance to share. The awareness rises in the groups that our cocreative reality is much more powerful and resilient than the structured dependences we created or subdued to before. And it is a choice we can all make.

In the twilight between two different realities it is at first difficult for people (and institutions) to make the choice. On the one hand there is the powerful presence still of the old dominant system that imposes itself. On the other hand there are the guts, determination and trust needed to let go and embrase a new way of life initially full of uncertainties and challenges. As time evolves the choice becomes easier because of the precedents, good example and existing platforms that show the way. People say when they encounter us “it exists, we want this too”. This awareness is the first step. Then two other steps appear:

  1. The abstract phase to define something concrete: People agree with the Sustainocratic core values, they identify with the level 4 cocreation process but find it difficult to apply it to their own country or region or circumstances. “Can you make it small for me” we often hear. Then we reply “If we do then you’ll be doing the work for us. If you do it then you do it for yourselves”. Once people get the hang of determining their own priorities, step out of the wheel of dependencies and into the arena of shared responsibilities, then the flow really starts. In such stage we can become partners and share best practice, consultancy, networks, instruments, etc while learning from each other.
  2. When people make up their mind, determine their priorities and come up with a powerful, high impact innovative change program, they tend to come with the question “is this okay?”. We then needed to explain that if it feels right, it contributes to the higher purpose and they stand behind their own choices…. than why ask anyone for permission? Go for it! Flow….

Once people get acquainted with the flow than they cannot be stopped. The new reality is then irreversible.