“The Privilege of a Life Time” by Peter Metzner


The privilege of a lifetime is being
who you are.
The goal of the hero trip
down to your jewel point
is to find those levels in the psyche
That open, open, open,
and finally open to the mystery
of your self
being Buddha consciousness,
the Christ.

That’s the journey
(Joseph Campbell) Reflections on the Art of Living – A Joseph Campbell Companion

“Find a place where there is joy and the joy will burn out the pain” .

According to Campbell, Satan is the epitome of the intractable ego. That part of ourselves needing to be right, to defend ourselves, feeling separate, better than or not as good as others depending on our beliefs, dogma and life’s situations. Hell is the concretization of your life experiences, a place where you’re stuck, the wasteland. In hell, we blame others for our condition and are so bound to ourselves that grace cannot enter. What is hellish is being stuck without hope, without relief.*

How we mature, depends on taking responsibility for our choices, no longer blaming others, or expecting rescue from them. And to acknowledge the pain of loneliness however much we are invested in social roles and relationships. (James Hollis) Swamplands of The Soul. The mature person i.e. one who is psychologically free : “is confident in his inner world, responsible for his strengths and weaknesses, consciously able to love himself, and thus, able to love others”…. Marion Woodman

In a simple and poignant description of the human condition, and of growth; Jolande Jacobi, a Jungian analyst writes: “Like a seed growing into a tree, life unfolds stage by stage. Triumphant ascent, collapse, crises, failures, and new beginnings strew the way. It is the path trodden by the great majority of people, as a rule unreflectingly, unconsciously, unsuspectingly, following its labyrinthine windings from birth to death in hope and longing. It is hedged about with struggle and suffering, joy and sorrow, guilt and error, and nowhere is there security from catastrophe. For as soon as a man tries to escape every risk and prefers to experience life only in his head, in the form of ideas and fantasies, as soon as he surrenders to opinions of ‘how it ought to be’ and, in order not to make a false step, imitates others when possible, he forfeits the chance of his own independent development. Only if he treads the path bravely and flings himself into life, fearing no struggle and no exertion and fighting shy of no experience, will he mature his personality more fully than the man who is ever trying to keep to the safe side of the road.”
J. Jacobe, The Way of Individuation

There are two gremlins we face every morning.

Fear: I am too tiny it is too hard… I can’t do it.

Lethargy: – chill out tomorrow is another day…

Each will eat us alive… Fear and lethargy are the enemy they are not out there they are inside
Carl Jung wrote: The spirit of evil is the negation of live force by fear… only boldness can overcome that fear.
If the risk is not taken, the meaning of life is violated”

Our task is to recover our personal authority and discern the meaning of our lives.
Who are we to stand in its way?

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

Navigating the Middle Passage: Finding Meaning and Purpose in Mid-Life by Peter Metzner


“Navigating the Middle Passage: Finding Meaning and Purpose in Mid-Life”
By Peter Metzner
Jan 2011

Sigmund Freud was once asked in a lecture “What is needed for a successful life?” Surprisingly, he answered in only two words: “Lieben und Arbeiten.” To give and receive love — and to do work that is right for you. His words still resonate today.

If we are not living our values or purpose or expressing our passion in meaningful ways, we will be living someone else’s dream. Psychologist James Hollis encourages asking “Whose life am I living?” He says “the task of midlife is to find out who you really are and to claim your life.” We need to ask ourselves, “Am I living the expectations of my parents, my spouse, or the organization I am working for?”

When we are not living our lives in purposeful, meaningful ways we experience a sense of emptiness, loss and often wonder if we are missing the point of our existence. Hollis cautions us: “If our work does not support our soul, then the soul will extract its butcher’s bill elsewhere.

Wherever the soul’s agenda is not served, some pathology will surface in everyday life.” Symptoms often include low grade depression, workaholism, obsession with material wealth, or loss of energy, to name a few. When we try to escape these feelings, we develop such diversionary habits as drug or alcohol abuse, over eating, addiction to television, the internet, or even affairs, each offering a fleeting respite from the emptiness. But no matter the diversion, the symptoms will recur unless we make changes that will bring authentic happiness and satisfaction to our work and lives.

Two of the most striking predictors of a person’s longevity can be found in the answers to two questions, says Nortin Hadler, MD at UNC’s Medical School: “Do I like what I do? and “Do I have a satisfying social support network?” Meaningful work and satisfying relationship are crucial to health and happiness.

So how do we answer these questions affirmatively? How can we use the messages of our emotions or body to guide us to the richer, fuller and happier lives that are our birthright? Psychologist Erik Erickson highlights two essential tasks for adulthood and mid life: Intimacy and Generativity.

According to Erickson, intimacy is the ability to share and confide, to give and receive feedback, and to accept our selves and others. The relationship we have with our self is mirrored in the relationships we have with family, co-workers and friends. We need to be able to form intimate and healthy relationships in our 20s and onward. With healthy and supportive relationships, we are better equipped to address generativity, the essence of midlife.

Generativity (versus stagnation) is simply a focus toward making the world a better place than when you found it. It can occur in some small way, like planting a tree or coaching your child’s soccer team – or it can appear in grander acts of volunteerism and philanthropy. Whatever mark you make is based on self awareness and self acceptance. It requires knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses, responsibility for your behaviors, and a connection to your passion, which enables you to express your gifts in unique and meaningful ways. Unleashing your passion sometimes takes a therapist or a coach – other times workshops, reading, journaling, or Dream Work can help you claim your life. It doesn’t matter how you get there as long as become more fully aware of what you are in service to the community and world around you. This is the essence of health and happiness in mid-life.

Peter Metzner is President of Dynamic Change, Inc. in Chapel Hill, NC., which specializes in Leadership and Life coaching, facilitation and consulting services that provide individuals, leaders and teams insight and tools that lead toward greater clarity of purpose and mission.