Waking Up From the Trance by Peter Metzner


We are bombarded daily with messages from advertisers, the media, shows, movies, the news,  our families, work, friends, school, churches and  politicians to name a few.  Neuroscience has found that our brain is more active when we are asleep then when we are watching TV.  (Unless we are very selective about what we watch.)   Without being aware, we internalize these messages  thrust-ed upon us every day.   Advertisers use sophisticated classical conditioning techniques to make us mindlessly want things we  don’t need.  As a society, we have been conditioned to be materialistic and view success as having lots of money and “things”.     We see images of what the ideal woman should be, what success looks like, what we should drive and how we should think.    Based on our selection of news programs, our political affiliation or religious orientation as well as our self image,   we automatically seek out information that confirms and conforms to our beliefs.

In his ground breaking book ” What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why you Should do The Opposite, David Desolvo writes:  ” The brain doesn’t merely prefer certainty over ambiguity – it craves it!”  Our need to be right is actually a need to feel right!’   Neurologist Robert Burton calls this a certainty bias which skews our thinking.    Since our brains crave certainty,  we become anxious or threatened  if our world view, religious or political beliefs are challenged.  Even despite compelling evidence to the contrary.  (Disalvo)  Thus differing view points, cultures, religions and ways of living are threatening to many.   Think about it;  if my way of thinking or believing  is right, good and the only way – your way must be wrong.  So if I am good then you must be bad or evil and I should fight evil.. Right?  Or?…

It is easy to see how  religion can be a source of conflict rather than a force  towards healing .  It not that any particular religion is the problem.  It is simply our brains!      Kenneth Wilber, one of the great current thinkers of our time states moral development falls into three distinct stages.  It is all about me (egocentric)  to it is all about us (ethnocentric)  to it is about all of us. (world centric)  This parallels  Kohlberg’s three levels of moral development.  pre conventional to conventional to post conventional.    According to Wilber, 70% of the world population is ethnocentric.  Which means I see and accept the world through the lenses of my tribe, culture, religion,  country, political belief etc.

With  ethno centric populations being  70%  and numerous countries  owning weapons of mass destruction, controlling vast amounts of the worlds resources,  consuming  significant amounts of these limited resources, and polluting significant amounts –  it doesn’t take an Einstein to see the trouble we are headed towards!

In order for there to be peace, sustainability and a shared common humanity;  a critical mass of  people need to reach the third stage of moral development.  (Its about all of us ) Carl Jung was asked if there was hope for the world  and his answer:   “There is – if enough people do their inner work”.    It is up to each of us individually to wake up from the collective trance and realize that there is only one human race and we are all a part of it.  As Desmund Tutu says-  ‘We are all family”.    Jung and depth psychologists realized that on a soul level we are all connected.   This supports Jesus’ teaching that what you do to the least of us you do to the rest of us.   Einstein reasoned that that this feeling separate from each other is an illusion.   From an energy standpoint as well  – we are all connected.

Jung believed that Neurosis is being or having to be someone you are not.  This is the imprisonment of  having to conform to external definitions of who or what you should be.   Shakespeare wrote the “most confining prisons are the ones that we don’t know that we are in”.  Psychological health and emotional well being is to  live authentically. This is “to see with your own own eyes and to feel with your own heart”  (Einstein)

To “wake up” and develop awareness and mastery, is to  step outside of your emotional field”.  (Daniel Starr)   To do this;  is to over-ride our conditioning.    Awareness is the foundation for growth, healing and taking responsibility for our lives.  With awareness we have choices.  The cost of staying unaware is to  be on automatic pilot and living a life that is not authentically and genuinely ours.   When we stay stuck with self limiting beliefs like we are not good enough, deserving,  we can’t make a difference etc..,  the names, the places, the people may change in our lives, but we repeat patterns with similar outcomes.  As we become more aware, we have more choices  and can live more intentionally and creatively.

So how does one  wake up from a conditioned, neurotic life?

According to Starr and the wisdom traditions,  the first step is to become an observer, or witness, to daily moment-to-moment experiences.  Once we can observe an emotion or a belief and not identify with it we are less likely to be managed or driven by it.   This is an important step towards self mastery.  Awareness helps us  learn to manage or regulate emotions rather than be driven by them.

It is important to observe without making judgment.  Self judgement and being self critical entrap you in your emotional soup. Self-awareness enhances self mastery by letting us see or witness our repetitive patterns.  This allows us to intentionally choose  our direction and experience .    Self-mastery helps us be more  effective in our work or vocation as well as other areas of our lives.

Emotions are states of mind, and we are always experiencing some state of mind, so we are always feeling an  emotion – whether we are conscious of it or not.   There is a relationship between thoughts and emotions.   With each thought, there is an emotional trigger or an emotional association. We think about something,  then comes an emotional association, and this, sparks another thought with its emotional “baggage”.   The process continues as the emotions resonate or fuel each other and increase in intensity.  We have all experienced being upset or angry about something (or someone) and by continually thinking of the situation, we become increasingly agitated.  This  called “awfulizing”.  We can awfulize or “catastrophize” about anything:  fellow workers, managers, clients, policy, finances, relationships, family, self-esteem, and so on.   The patterns are very similar.  Being aware of this,  makes it is fairly simple to master.

The most important part of self-mastery is awareness, (Starr)  so when you start to notice the awfulizing, reward yourself for experiencing this.  You are then associating a positive emotion with the act of becoming aware.  This is a lot more beneficial then getting upset about awfulizing again.

When  we experience negative emotions,  it is usually because we are experiencing something in our environment or our mind that is not in harmony with what we want.   Think about this being an opportunity to discover what we do want.   The starting point is first  knowing what we do not want.  The steps are simple:

1)      Reward yourself for becoming aware of your awfulizing, or negative emotional state.

2)      Notice what it is that you do not want, and ask yourself “If that is what I don’t want, then what is it that I do want?”

3)      Consider what you want and imagine, feel, experience what it would be like to have what you do want.

This third step is very important, for you are now choosing an emotional state, and developing self-mastery.  (Again, which is better, being in a negative state, or choosing a positive one?)  With this exercise we “shift”, from conditioned patterns to more  effective and productive emotional states which allows us to better handle stressors and frustrations.

Making this shift, requires waking up to what is happening to you in the present, and by choice or intention, consciously turning your attention from what you do not want to what you do want.   Wherever you put your awareness, that will expand.  According to William James considered by many the father of psychology – we become what we think about.  Neuroscience has shown that by thinking regularly of the virtues and strengths we want to adopt – that our brains actually start to rewire synapses which helps us embody these qualities.

Happiness is a by – product of  having purpose, meaning, healthy supportive relationships and feeling like we are making a difference.   Psychological maturity comes from knowing who we are, being responsible for our behaviors knowing our strengths and weaknesses accepting and loving ourselves thus being able to accept and love others. (Marian Williamson)   Affluence in the fullest sense is knowing what matters, going for what is truly important and meaningful and feeling or having a sense of being connected to something larger than ourselves.  We each have a summons to living our own lives and to wake up from the trance.

The world needs you.

Suggested readings:

What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do The Opposite,  David Disalvo 

The Essential  Ken Wilber; An Introductory Reader 

The Middle Passage From Misery to Meaning in Midlife;  James Hollis

River of Time Guided Visualization and Relaxation Process by Peter Metzner


How ready or able are you to: 

  • Eliminate stress?
  • Sustain self-confidence in the most challenging situations?
  • Maintain a healthy perspective towards life challenges?
  • Letting go of self-limiting beliefs?
  • Discovering your true life’s goals?
  • Staying  calm?
  • Generating a good nights sleep 365 days a year?
  • Enjoying a greater engagement with life?
  • Maximizing your energy all day long?
  • Dealing with the complexities of life?

For the price of a decent bottle of wine you can change your mood and life forever. 

I  made a CD and audio of a guided visualization and relaxation process I have been doing with various groups for over twelve years.  After going through the process,  many report:  increased self-confidence, sense of well-being, a healthier perspective, ability to  connect to meaningful goals, greater calmness and focus as well as sleeping better and having more energy!

The River of Time Audio enables you to experience  deep relaxation, allows you to release stress and let go of self-limiting beliefs.

It is crucial for health and mental well being to activate the the relaxation response daily.   A relaxed body relaxes the mind, giving a much greater capacity to manage life’s challenges.   It is clinically impossible to be anxious or stressed while the body is relaxed!

There are numerous ways to activate the relaxation response.    Gardening, golf, walking,  meditation and yoga to name a few.  An advantage of the guided visualization and relaxation  process is that not only does it assist  in achieving a deep state of relaxation – it  helps in letting go of self limiting beliefs and can you connect to the  true  North of your  inner compass.

After facilitating dozens of this process live to students, teachers, and people from all walks of life, many have connected to deeper and more meaningful goals;  and experienced the calmness, focus and drive to take action in going after them!

I hope you will experience this proven process.  Below is a  testimonial:

“I really enjoyed the River of Time CD!  After listening to the River of Time CD I experienced that I slept better than I had in a long while. Those 20 minutes were the most stress-free, relaxing, and encouraging 20 minutes ever!”
Once again, thank you!  Mollie D.

River of Time CD

The River of Time audio can be ordered for $9.99 from http://dynamicchangeinc.com/blog/shop/shop/river-of-time-digital-audio-download/

Or a  CD for 14.99 (Free Shipping) from:  http://dynamicchangeinc.com/blog/shop/shop/river-of-time-cd/

Please send your comments. They will be helpful for others to see!

Safe Stress: The Art of Coping by Peter Metzner


With  chronic stress so detrimental to health, productivity and sense of well being;  it is important to find ways, habits of thought  and strategies to bring balance back to our lives.   Everyone is different and each may find their own strategy that works best.  Below are practical and immediately useful insights that can help to find greater joy and meaning to life.   The good news is that these are not expensive.

First,  we need to do something every day that is relaxing and we like to do just for the sake of it.  For me, I find that meditation is an ideal way to start off the day by visualizing what I want to accomplish and experience. I set an intention for the impact I want to have from my classes, seminars and coaching. Try it it works!

Exercise is another stress buster. Daily exercise even it it is walking briskly for 30 to 40 minutes, flushes out stress hormones and gives a fresh perspective on things.   There is a lot of literature and research that also shows a link between a poor diet and chronic diseases.   Processed food, sugars found snack foods and soft drinks are linked to obesity, high blood pressure, ADD, moodiness,  low energy as well as inflammatory diseases.   A diet rich in unprocessed foods, fruits,  and fresh vegetables will give our bodies the fuel it needs to repair itself.  A “healthy”  diet will also help in our having more energy and impact our sense of well being.  Think about what would happen if you put bad fuel in a car?   A typical fast food diet is like putting impure low octane fuel in an engine.  Avoid the “hit and run junk food”

“An optimistic attitude enhances coping skills and ability to deal with stress more productively.  If we can be more accepting of our current life situation without judging ourselves, and learn from each of our difficulties.. a profound shift starts taking place.   We start to see our situation as a necessary part of our growth and development.  Problems no longer are things we dread and fear but are seen as needed developmental opportunities for us to grow and become more capable and mature* .” (Holzman)  Shifting to an intention and a belief  that I can do it,  helps rewire our brains, trigger more positive emotions and helps us to take more productive and necessary actions to move forward .

Managing the negative, self-deprecating or worrying thoughts that fuel anxiety and feed depression – is personal power.  To do this entails learning the art of inner quiet and creating a space where you can find your “reset” button.  You can achieve this through the discipline of daily meditation practice, which acts as a detox for your energy system (mental and physical).  Ironically the “discipline” is really in doing nothing, learning to still the mind and find the comfortable inner quiet in your body. Wayne Dyer states “You will find your “Self” in the space between two thoughts.

Dr. Andrew Newberg; a radiologist at Penn; one of the nations most prestigious teaching  hospitals and authority on “Neuro-theology” found that even novice meditators  in a study, improved their memories by meditating just twelve minutes a day,  for only a few weeks. Even just thinking about what you value most in life, i.e, compassion, reason, love, peace, empowerment… will literally strengthen the neural connections that enable you to carry those values into the rest of your life” **

References and additional reading:

* Pamela Holzman:   http://www.pamelaholtzman.com/its-not-obsession-its-discipline/

** Fringe.ology  * How I tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable – And Couldn’t, Steve Volk;  Harper Collins 2011

The National Wellness Institute at: http://www.nationalwellness.org/

The Profile of a Killer: Stress By Peter Metzner


In our last posting we talked about how each personality “type”  typically responds to it stress, and inadvertently stresses and triggers others.   In following up as to how stress can impact our professional and personal relationships;  this posting, will look at:

  • What stress actually is.
  • Sources of stress.
  • How stress impacts health

   Stress

As Americans we are five percent of the world’s population but we consume 65 percent of the world’s psychotropic drugs, tranquilizers and mood enhancers*.  None of these will “cure” stress or anxiety and each has potentially toxic side effects as well as  addictive potential.   We seem to be a population under a tremendous amount of stress and collective malaise.

Our bodies respond to stressful situations by releasing hormones, such as adrenalin and cortisol, which immediately increase our  heart rate and energy level.  In the short-term, these stress hormones help us adapt and survive an unexpected threat.  Like a dog snarling at us or a car suddenly swerving in our lane.  Our arms and legs get a burst of  energy,  our hearts beat faster, blood pressure increases and  everything that’s not essential for survival gets turned off, such as digestion, growth, healing and reproduction,”  Temporarily we think more clearly, and certain aspects of learning and memory are enhanced.  All of this helps us respond  if…  it is an immediate and short-term physical stress-or —a real one.” **

The problem is;  non-life-threatening stressors, like worrying about money, the economy, your job or trying to please your boss, also trigger the release of adrenalin and other stress hormones, which, over time, have devastating and life threatening  consequences to your health.  Negative emotions like anger adversely impact health as well.  In his ground breaking book,  Anger Kills, psychologist Redford Williams found that hostile, angry and driven individuals (The type A profile) are more likely to get heart attacks; often fatal.  These individuals (as we have seen in our last posting) typically trigger stress in others.   Bad bosses  (Unaware, driven, dominant and hostile)  have been shown  to be a significant risk factor in triggering heart attacks and other stress related disorders in the work place.

Our brains can not tell the difference between a real threat or an imagined threat.    Imagining or perceiving a threat  also triggers our fight or flight response.   In this case,  FEAR becomes an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.   Robert Sapolsksy, a leading neuro- scientist and foremost authority on stress  states:   “If you turn on the stress response chronically for purely psychological reasons, you increase your risk of adult onset diabetes and high blood pressure. If you’re chronically shutting down the digestive system, there’s a bunch of gastrointestinal disorders you’re more at risk for as well.”   Studies show that long-term stress  suppresses the immune system, making you more susceptible to infectious diseases,  can  shut down reproduction by causing erectile dysfunction and disrupting menstrual cycles.  If you are chronically stressed, all sorts of aspects of brain function are impaired such as creativity and problem solving.  Research also shows “stress to be a smoking gun in early onset of Alzheimer’s and senile dementia”.  (Singh- Kalsa)  Neurons in the parts of the brain relating to learning, memory and judgment don’t function well under chronic  stress and have been shown to die off.

The bottom line is:   For whatever reason, if you are chronically stressed,  like so many of us in these uncertain times,  you are more at risk for heart disease and many of the other leading causes of death in our Westernized life.”  (Sapolsky)   My next posting will highlight practical ways to effectively manage stress, cultivate calmness, and cope more effectively with the complexities of life.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, breath deeply; (at least three times)  this helps by  oxygenating the brain,  “flushing” out stress hormones and  allows you to better respond versus reacting.  Reacting tends to keeps us stuck in the situation we are resisting.   Remember; “we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are”.    (Anais Nin)

 Resources and References

*Richard Wolf, PhD;   Sun Magazine Feb. 2012 “Capitalism and its Discontents -What Went Wrong”  

** Robert SapolskyPH.D Stress the Portrait of a Killer, National Geographic, DVD

Anger Kills: Seventeen Strategies for Controlling the Hostility That Can Harm Your Health;   Redford Williams MD, Virginia Williams, PH.D

Brain Longevity: The Breakthrough Medical Program That Improves Your Mind and Memory , Dharma Singh Kalsa, MD & Cameron Stauth

Triggers and Stressors by Type by Peter Metzner


The last posting highlighted  core personality types and their characteristics. Most people are a combination of two.   While we are all unique and different from everyone else; we also share basic common themes in the way we work, relate to others, and react to life’s stresses.  Below is a summary of  the core types under stress.  Interestingly,  or ironically depending how you view it; when stressed each type can stress others resulting in a self reinforcing cycle of stress and negativity.   This is why we need to get out of our comfort zone and realize that each usually plays a role in the situation nobody wants!  When we overuse or misuse our strengths we push away the very things we want most in life.  Talk about irony!

Personality styles under stress or tension are as follows;

D – Drivers/ Dominant – have a tendency to Dominate, Attack, Push the envelope – (My way or highway)

I – Expressive – have a tendency to Blame, Criticize, Be sarcastic, Or even acquiesce

S – Amiable / Steadiness – have a tendency to withdraw, oblige or tolerate.

 C – Analytic / Compliant – have a tendency to avoid, justify, criticize  or complain.

 

As a reference for the closest comparisons to Peoplemap personality types (Lillibridge, Mathis 1992):

Leader = D / Driver / Director

Free Spirit = I / Expressive / Socializer

People = S / Amiable / Relater

Task = C / Analytical / Thinker

 Under stress each type tends to overuse their strengths –  potentially triggering defensive behaviors of the other types around them.  This in turn escalates conflict and tension in working relationships thus adversely impacting productivity and morale.  Note: each type can trigger the others also by staying in their relative comfort zones.

When triggered into their fight or flight response (real or imagined threat) individuals naturally react to the other according to their type: this is how the very thing we want most is pushed away.    The likelihood of each moving to their stress or danger zone is increased, further raising the likelihood for non productive behaviors, negativity and outcomes.

Leader type triggers (Perceived) —

  • Non-productive workers
  • Non-efficiency
  • Repeated mistakes
  • Loss of control
    • Incompetence
    • Passive aggressive behaviors.
    • Irrationality (Emotional response.)
    • Lack of logical basis for decisions
    • Failure to address competence after it has been identified
    • Not working hard

When angry regarding those aspects above, Leader types can have a no holds barred approach to conflict. Tempers may flare in either soft or loud tones.  Either way, others know of their displeasure and may retreat or cower from their anger or irritation.

People type triggers (Perceived) —

  • Not feeling valued or respected
  • Being taken advantage of
  • Not being listened to
  • Feeling unjustly criticized
  • Failure to respond to personal inquiry
  • Lack of attention to personal needs
  • Perceived condescension, insensitivity.
  • Focus on “it” or “task” rather than on the individual’s needs
  • Failure to acknowledge efforts
  • Judgmental

When angry…..People types often become passive aggressive (The power of the powerless) turn inward, so communication they crave becomes beyond their reach.  They are not good at expressing their emotions when under “assault” so their tendency is to shut down.  Their brain ceases to “exist” as it normally does and it almost is if they retreat and become numb to what is being said. This can be especially vexing to leader types.

Task type triggers (Perceived) —

  • Work, work, work, and work some more…
  • Feeling dumped on continuously as others know they will do what it takes to get the job done
    • Lack of attention to detail
    • Not given enough direction
    • Lack of verification of information
    • Failure to follow through as specifically described
    • Inefficiency
    • Laziness

When angry….Task types also tend to shut down and throw themselves even more into their work – sometimes losing track of the big picture.  They can be perceived as being critical, inflexible and judgmental; which can be especially difficult for People types as well as Free Spirits not to mention frustrating to Leader types!

Free Spirit type triggers (Perceived) —

  • Feeling ridiculed for their contributions
  • Not appreciated
  • Not having ideas listened to.
  • Demeaned if not part of status quo
  • Being micromanaged and questioned
  • Not having room or enough freedom to innovate
  • Over emphasis on rules
  • Others not being able to see the “big picture”

Free Spirits will likely rebel or leave a situation…they may simply walk away. What may be worse; they stay and remain unhappy: not feeling valued or appreciated. The more they feel controlled, micromanaged or not listened too the more rebellious they can become.

To transform negative emotions to constructive use can be as simple as ABC :

  • AAffect Acknowledge the anger or emotion your are feeling  e.g. I feel misunderstood, frustrated, hurt,  etc
  • B: Behavior. When you… showed up late, didn’t meet the deadline, etc..
  • C: Call for action (Choice).  I need you to:.  Be at work on time, honor your commitment etc.

By understanding the message of our emotions and using an assertive approach like this; we can create healthier, more productive relationships, get our needs met and live a more successful and empowered life.  Regardless of type, we all need to be able to state our needs in a calm straightforward and specific way.    If each is willing to listen and cultivate empathy for the other, the resulting positive shift in interpersonal  dynamics can immediate and profound!   Try it out!!

Knowing Yourself is the Beginning of Wisdom by Peter Metzner


Aristotle wrote that knowing yourself is the beginning of wisdom. In any relationship, whether it be work or professional, we need to feel that we have “enough” control over our lives and ability in getting our needs met.    A life skill is being able to assert what we need and to “train” others to treat us with the respect and consideration that we deserve.  To do this we have to believe that we are deserving, capable and worthy of getting respect.    We  need to be aware that if we don’t mindfully train people to treat us with respect then by default we may be doing it unconsciously.   Thus,  the question must be asked:  If I am not getting the respect or  consideration  I want – how am I training people to treat me?  For example if one is “too” nice, he or she trains people to take advantage of them.   What we experience in our relationships, whether it be work or personal is a co-creation.  When there is a conflict,  each plays a role in the situation non one wants.  Yet we are all too often blind to how we impact others while acutely aware of how the other person affects us.

Throughout History from the Greeks to modern day,  there appear to be four primary personality types.  Although there are differences in ways they are described with some approaches  having more depth and others describing similar aspects of personality in differing ways .. there is a striking thread that is common to each.

Below are the four quadrants that people fall under:

                                                                  Expressive, creative, Free Spirited orientation.

|

Relationship people orientation _________________|_____________________  Driver,  results orientation

(Soft Skills)                                                                                                    |                                                               (Hard skills)

 

                                                                                   Analytical, detail, task orientation

Most of us are a combination of two.  I bet y0u can pretty much pinpoint where you are on the grid.   For instance, I fit more in  the relationship and expressive quadrant which is ideal for my work as a coach,  trainer, writer and speaker/teacher.

We can’t know our selves until we know others and we can’t know others unless we know ourselves.   The maxim “know thyself” goes as far back as Socrates and is as important today as it was then.   Psychologist James Hollis stated, “The prevailing source of conflict between individuals arises from differences in personal typologies”  With the  knowledge of your template and insight into others template you can better relate, parent, manage, motivate, mentor, develop and work with others who are different than you.  Had I known this when I was a sales trainer, I could have doubled the universe of people I was effective with.    Also by understanding our own  template of how we view relationships, work and our communication style, we are in a position to have greater empathy, handle conflict more productively and be better able to form more collaborative working relationships as well as more rewarding personal ones.

A hallmark of psychological maturity is being able to fully accept yourself.  This enables us to be able to better accept others.  When we are healthy, we are able to be flexible in dealing with others and willing to own how we impact those around us.   If we slight or hurt someone, the appropriate response is to feel remorse and work at making things right.   Judging someone means we don’t understand them.  Typically we screen out the data or qualities that don’ match our judgement and act in ways that make the other person behave to justify how we already feel.    When we are able to let go of judging and be more “accepting” we can better deal with behaviors that may be unacceptable or counterproductive rather than blaming or shutting someone down.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow discovered – when our relationship needs are met we are freed to pursue higher levels needs like meaning and purpose.  For workplaces to be more productive and to be able to foster higher  performing teams and ‘Peak Performance;   ” a supportive environment allows individuals to work at  higher levels of complexity”.  Kurt Fischer PhD ( Harvard)

With most conflict arsing out of simple differences in personality type,  I am convinced that we all can  “learn” how to better get along with each other.  The next blog posting will address how each type deals with stress and how each may “trigger” the other into anger anger or withdrawal.    Stay tuned!

Conscious Leadership and Living by Peter Metzner


Our EGO is our made up identity.  Ego comes from the Latin word meaning “I”.  According to Freud,  it has primarily two needs:  to be right and defend itself.  Its  major drives:  sex and aggression. (I think he had males more in mind with his theories)   This correlates to testosterone which supplies men with sexual drive and aggression. When too much is produced it can get one in trouble in the way of violence driven behavior.   When healthy, the  ego mediates  drives  for sex in healthy ways – ie in a committed relationship or in “healthy”  and socially appropriate ways.  Aggression is channeled productively into work or meaningful accomplishments in sustainable ways.

Psychologists after Freud believed that the our egos have higher level needs such as a need for meaning and purpose.  (Frankel)  When our basic safety and shelter needs are met,  affiliation needs become very important. When affiliation needs are met, the  higher levels needs for meaning purpose and individuation become more important.   (Maslow, Rollo May)

So what does this have to do with leadership?

The foundation for conscious leadership is to be aware.  To be aware of self, others, what really matters, and as much as possible to the larger world in which we play and work.  When the ego is immature, we are selfish.  “It is all about me”  which is an egocentric orientation.  In the next stage of ego development we care about:  our family, tribe, company, political party, religion, etc.  the focus is more “ it is about us”  This is an  ethnocentric point of view.     The third stage of ego development is a much larger sense of  “I” . “I care about all of us.”   This is a world-centric orientationA  movement from identifying with race, political, party, religion etc,  to a fuller awareness that I am not only:  a white male or female,  Christian or Jewish, black or white, Hispanic, Democrat or Republican but an American and; ultimately a  human like everyone else.  In a Spiritual sense  it is  “feeling” or realizing a shared connection to all people and with all of  life.  Desmond Tutu embodies this  awareness with his teaching that “we are all family!”

The sense of separation and feeling disconnected  has gotten us in trouble.  Since the ego always wants more and more, has a need to be right and defend itself,  it can never be satisfied. No amount of material wealth, power or privilege will ever be enough.  Almost like a hungry ghost – always consuming – never satisfied.  Elkhart Tolle states ” The biggest fear of the ego  is:  The truth!      This feeling of isolation and disconnect from self, others and the transcendent  leads to consumerism  and looking to the outside for validation and worth.

When fixated in an ethnocentric state of consciousness – I feel a sense of belonging and connection to my “tribe” but  separate and better than those that have different belief’s  religion, political view-point, culture etc.  Kenneth Wilbur’s research indicates that 70% of the world’s population is in an ethnocentric stage of  moral and ego development.  Is it any wonder that we are collectively in the trouble we are currently experiencing with the global financial meltdown, income disparities in the US, international and cultural conflicts to name but a few?   When combined with superior technologies in the form of weapons and economic power, and mixed with high levels of cognitive intelligence, an ethnocentric group tends to serve the goals of its members at the expense of others while convinced their beliefs  and actions are moral and “self”-righteous.   The result;  unending conflict with more and more sophisticated tools to use for defense and applying against the “out” groups.    Which seems to be one  of the recurring themes and dilemmas we are living though today.

With technology reaching warp speed and our collective moral and ego development lagging far behind we all have our work to do!  Maria Von Franz widely recognized as a foremost authority in psychoanalytic theory wrote that “Specialization leads to ego inflation”  In other words the more specialized a person’s knowledge is, the greater the risk of  hubris.  She cautions we all need to be vigilant against ego inflation.   For when we become  well-educated or  successful we can be too easily be seduced into thinking  that we are better than others  because of:  our looks, degrees, success, religion political view points etc.   This feeling of superiority or arrogance can and does lead to treating others not like us in inhumane and inequitable ways .

Von Franz, at the end of her life warned:  “The greatest threat to civilization is ego inflation”    So, is there hope for the world?  Carl Jung’s answer to this is:  There is hope for the world if enough people do their work – their inner work.   As Einstein stated, the thinking that got us into trouble will not get us out.   If  enough people and leaders grow or develop  to a more world-centric or it’s about all of us view and internal compass;  I believe too; there is hope for the world.   In every crisis there is an opportunity for growth.   Currently we are fast approaching the point when the pain of not changing is becoming greater than the fear of change.     The time is now for each of us in our own unique ways to become part of the solution.  You will find your leadership at the intersection of the world’s needs and your talents.  Listen to your heart.

Peter Metzner

Nov. 5, 2011