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Activating our ‘super-nature’ for Experience Making 2.0

August 14, 2018

There is quite a lot of hype around ‘experience making’ these days.  And perhaps rightly so.

As Experience-Making – creating memorable, lasting, rich experiences – well, that’s the very stuff of life!

Here, we are going to go beyond the superficial and venture into the deep; beyond what we might call Experience-making 1.0 and into the land of Experience-Making 2.0.

And for that I need your help.

I ask you now, as you read this, to pause for a moment, to check inside yourself.  Notice your breathing, your body moving as it breathes.

Notice how deep or shallow you are breathing.

Are you breathing from your chest or deep, from your belly.

Place your hands over your heart and chest area, and sense inward into your body breathing – close your eyes, to switch-off the visual experience and bring your experience inward into the body.

Sense into the heart pumping – beating – like a drum.

As you breathe deep, notice the body moving, and notice the heart beating.

This movement and somatic sensation is going on, all the time, as we talk and walk, as we listen and speak.

It’s a simple shift in our awareness, in our attentiveness to life, that shifts our ability to create and deliver experiences through ourselves, our relationships with others and world.

I would like to share some simple does and don’t about Experience Making.

  • Companies don’t create experiences
  • Logos don’t create experiences
  • Big data, customer analytics, multi-channel consumer transactions, don’t create experiences

We create experiences.

Our humanity, our sensations, emotions and rich social exchanges create experiences.

And…

Deep listening.

Deep listening inside ourselves, deep listening with others, deep listening to the world.

This brings me to Top Tip Number One of Experience-Making 2.0

  • Experience making is first-and-foremost an inner-outer dynamic, a continuous dialogue of self-other-world that is happening all the time. How we show-up shifts this inner-outer dialogue, enriching and deepening it. And first, it starts within.  As Carl Jung famously noted, ‘the one who looks outside dreams, the one who looks inside awakens’.  And that’s what we are in the business of doing, awakening our humanity – nothing more, nothing less. Awakening our humanity activates our super-nature.

This brings me to Top Tip Number 2 of Experience Making

  • Experience-making is not something we can plug-and-play. Its not something we can buy off-the-shelf, to digitise and consumerise our customer relationships with – as much as our mechanistic mind may wish it to be neat and tidy, so we can project manage it to time and budget, delivering it anytime anywhere on-demand.

No. This is about our awakened humanity flowing through our self-other-world relations.  Its the quality of presence we allow to flow through our relationships with all stakeholders (of which customers are an important one, but not to be treated singularly or as a silo. Experience Making 2.0 goes beyond silos and stove-pipes into the real-life of interrelated ecosystems.

To explore this awakened relationality with our stakeholders, we first need to familiarise ourselves with our own inner human repertoire, our natural intelligences, our ‘ways of knowing’, through which we experience life itself and make meaning.

Carl Jung famously referred to our natural intelligences as our four ways of knowing:  intuitive; rational; emotional and somatic

The intuitive way of knowing has often been related to the element fire, and also to SQ or quantum intelligence – its insight and intuition informs us and we bring this insight into our daily awareness, influencing our decisions.  Opening up to this intuitive intelligence requires us to reach beyond the grasping busy-mind of our daily awareness, to quieten, and still ourselves, so we can better cultivate this receptive discernment.

The emotional way of knowing has often been related to the element water, and also to EQ – the feelings always within us, ebbing and flowing, inform and enrich our daily awareness, influencing our decisions.  Opening up to this emotional intelligence requires us to not simply react to feelings but sense-inward, allowing our feelings to have space, so we can consciously respond to these feelings. It is a subtle yet important shift from reactivity to responsiveness, from blind emotional outburst to informed emotional intelligence.

In 1995, Daniel Goleman’s work on Emotional Intelligence highlighted the importance of emotions and emotional intelligence (EQ) for leadership development and organisational learning. Goleman found that how we cultivate awareness of our own and other’s feelings and consciously respond to these feelings in appropriate ways helps our leadership potential.   Studies show that EQ out-performs IQ as a predictor of job success and performance capability.

Then in 1997, the neuroscientist Candace Pert’s ground-breaking work Molecules of Emotion provided more insight into the integration of body-mind sensations, feelings and thoughts, in what Pert referred to as the ‘psychosomatic network’ – an integrated system of psyche and soma. The psyche comprises the nonmaterial aspects such as mind, emotion and soul, and the soma comprises the material aspects such as the cells, organs and tissues.

This brings us on to another of Carl Jung’s ways of know: somatic intelligence. Our somatic and sensorial way of knowing has often been related to the element earth, and also to PQ.  This is the sensations we have in our body, for instance, gut pangs, or tickle in the throat, hairs on the back of the neck, or chest perturbations. Our soma (as Pert scientifically explored) is full of psychosomatic sensations that inform our psyche. As we allow ourselves to quieten and sense into the somatic intelligence within us, we enrich our conscious awareness and invite in more intelligence into our daily awareness, so as to be better at sensing and responding to changes within and all around us.

And finally, Jung’s fourth way of knowing, is the rational analytic intelligence – which has been related to the element air, and also to IQ.  This tends to be the dominant intelligence we call upon  in today’s busyness. Our head-logic, the analytic mechanisations it creates, is what dominates today’s meetings, conversations and decisions. It is but one intelligence within our human repertoire, yet when it dominates too much, it can suppress our other ways of knowing.

When we allow these 4 ways of knowing – intuitive (fire), rational (air), emotional (water), somatic (earth) – to cohere within us, we allow these 4 elements of nature to integrate in their rightful way within is. As we integrate these 4 elements of nature, we open ourselves us to the 5th element, the Akasha, or what the brilliant British scientist David Bohm referred to as the ‘ground of all being’ – a generative field that permeates space, it is within and all around us all the time, if we so choose to tap into it.

By integrating our 4 ways of knowing, we awaken our deeper nature, and tap into the 5th element: our true nature, and the wisdom of Nature within and all around us, the synchronistic and systemic capacity we need to thrive in times of increased volatility.   We tap into the generative field of life – what the ancient Chinese called the Way of Nature – and we participate in life-affirming regenerative ways of being-and-doing.

This is our super-nature, it is well within our natural capacity, and all it requires is for us to integrate our natural human repertoire within us.

This is the important basis for awakening our humanity, and for dealing with the root cause of our plethora of crises (whether it be climate change through to rampant social inequality – and what lies at root is a flawed way of attending to life, which can only be rectified at source – within ourselves, by awakening our true nature).

While this shift into our true nature is in some regards quite simple – it requires no credit card, no PhD or complex scientific undertaking – it is not necessarily easy in today’s world of dis-ease and distraction.

To make this shift, we have to cross a threshold.

For various reason – which I have written about in detail in the book The Illusion of Separation – our current socio-economic worldview honours the rational analytic way of attending to such an extent that it has come to dominate, to crowd-out and suppress our other ways of knowing.

The rational-analytic way of attending is a powerful tool in our human repertoire. It’s great at getting the job done, doing the to-do list, project managing, engineering solutions. We need it, and it has provided great advancements in medicine, transportation, technology and such like that we all enjoy.

Yet, if we allow it to overly dominate our daily awareness then it undermines our human potential, and it cuts us off from who we truly are. Before we know it, we actually lose touch with our very sense of place and purpose in this world:  enter the contagion of consumerism in our midst, where we seek silo’ed techno-fixes to wicked systemic problems. Our places of work become mechanised cultures where assets (including ‘human resources’ ) are sweated for short-term returns. We spend much of our time in soul-less drudgery working in top-down hierarchic command-and-controlled KPI-obsessed organisations and find ourselves too busy to ask why.

Albert Einstein put his finger right on it, when he said;

Here lies the problem, and the solution – pure genius.

We find ourselves so caught up in the rational-analytic mind that we do not have time to give ourselves the space to really tune-in to our intuitive, emotional and somatic intelligences.

Crossing the Threshold

Interestingly, the root word for Leadership ‘leith’ means to ‘cross the threshold’ to ’die and be reborn’ to ‘let go of old ways of thinking and embrace the new’.

Having hosted space for myriad leaders to cross the threshold, and having taking innumerable cohorts of senior leaders on deep-dive transformative experiences, I would like to share with you this secret.  It’s a very simple secret…

We need do nothing more, nor nothing less that awakening our humanity in order to cross the threshold, and allow our experience of life to be flooded with meaning, purpose, enlivened engagement and rich experience-making potential.

You and me, every one of us, are exquisite experience-makers, we have within us all we need to create and partake in transformative, meaningful and lasting experiences.

Through practices and techniques that help integrate our ways of knowing, while holding space in a way that creates trust for open-mind, open-heart and open-will, we allow our humanity to do its magic, and tap into the 5th element within and all around us. We become super-natural.

It is here, in these generative spaces, that we begin, we sense and respond while calling forth Regenerative Leadership with natural resilience.  Our super-nature is in our very nature.  It’s the stuff of life, and we can unlock it with each breath, each moment, each conversation, if we so choose.

For sure, we need to practice practice practice if we are to re-program our overly grasping rational-analytic mind as we ease back into a more integrated air-water-earth-fire combo amid the stresses and strains of everyday fast-paced living.

But once we realise the root problem, then we can prioritise this practice and give it the attention it surely deserves.

Crossing this threshold from a dis-eased lop-sided way of attending to life, into an integrated awakened, super-natural way of attending can be done time and again throughout the day, each and every conversation providing the crucible for our crossing.

The more we cross the threshold, the more we become self-aware, the more we deepen our systemic perception, the more we open up to the magnificence of life. When coherent, our intuitive, rational, emotional and somatic intelligences guide us into flow: the optimal of human experiences.

‘Attention is a moral act: it creates, brings aspects of things into being, in doing so makes others recede. What a thing is depends on who is attending to it and in what way.’ Iain McGilchrist, neuroscientist

Our brain is a powerful organ of perception, filtering how we perceive the world.

The ground-breaking research of neuroscientist Iain McGilchrist shows how our perception of the world depends upon whether our brain activity is more in our left-brain hemisphere than our right-brain hemisphere.

The right brain hemisphere sees the inter-relationality of life, and integrates our intuitive emotional and somatic intelligences from our bodymind.

The left-hemisphere sees the rational-analytic bits and bytes, it compartmentalises, silo’s, focuses-in and takes specific content out of the lived-in content of the right-brain hemisphere.  It also honours the past habits and routines more than the novel emerging future, and so attempts to mechanise change into predictable step-by-step routines.  It re-presents and compartmentalises our lived-in experience of the world, filtering it into a disembodied independent autonomous sense of self that needs to manage and control its interactions in mechanised ways.  Hence, it goes hand-in-hand with a heightened ego-awareness.

In reality, we need both ways of attending, and we can allow each hemisphere to readily inter-relate like two hands playing the piano, synchronised yet with an element of freedom to differentiate.

From McGilchrist’s and others’ research it seems that over the last few decades we have become more and more orientated towards a left-hemispheric way of attending, which skews us towards the bits and bytes, towards the mechanisation and analytic reductionism of life.  This heightens our sense of self as separate from and in competition with the world. It also exacerbates the view of the organisation as a machine that ought self-maximise through top-down hierarchic control in a dog-eat-dog world of hyper-competition.

Enter the ‘organisation as machine’ metaphor so pervasive in mainstream management theory that has been playing out for the last few decades.

As we more readily integrate the left and right brain hemispheres, we open up our perceptual horizon and allow in our other natural intelligences.  We sense into how the world really is beyond our mechanisations. We sense into how the world really is beyond our mechanisations.

How do we do this?

First, we must realise that a healthy brain calls upon different brain-wave frequencies and neural network patterns.

Naturally, we have alpha, beta, gamma and delta frequencies within our brain, and yet for much of today’s busyness – from the time our alarm-clock jolts us out of bed, into commuter rush, and relentless emails, meetings, conference calls, targets and decisions, to the commuter rush home, before crashing out in front of the TV – our brains spend too much time in a high-beta brain-wave state.

This puts us in a state of fight-flight for too much of our daily awaking life, and overly stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which triggers certain hormone secretion (cortisol, adrenaline, etc.). This further exacerbates the imbalance within ourselves, further closing down our attentiveness to our intuitive, emotional and somatic intelligences.  Our natural capacity for empathy, for deep listening, for creativity and relationality is significantly diminishes.  Then, in this diminished state of heightened anxiety and overly-analytic grasping, we seek solutions ‘out there’ to our problems, we further devise mechanisms, engineered solutions, metrics, digitised channel-communications and Big Data to solve the problems we create with this dis-eased way of attending.

Yes, we need insightful business intelligence, customer analytics and technologies to aid us in solving today’s challenges, and yet as tools serving our deeper humanity.

It’s time to pause, breath-deep, integrate our super-nature, and awaken our true nature, so we can see beyond the symptoms of today’s challenges towards the root problem – ourselves, our jaundice way of attending to life.

‘The ground of all being cannot be lost. Know that simply by opening yourself to ‘it’ again and again your capacity to sustain its natural presence throughout your daily life will increase.’

Elias Amidon, mystic

Open Up Your Heart

Did you know, the heart is not just a pump pumping oxygenated blood to every single cell in our bodies 100,000 times a day without fail… no… its much more than that.

Our heart within us, we can feel pumping now within us, as we reorientate our awareness within our chest, for a brief moment.

Pause…Breathe…Sense the heart pumping within.

This heart is a powerful organ of perception, thousands of times more powerful magnetically than the brain at sensing and responding subtle perturbations in our surrounds all the time, directly updating the brain.

 ‘And now here is my secret, it is a very simple secret, it is only with the heart that one sees rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.’ – The Little Prince

During the deep-dive immersions I take leaders on, we undertake certain practices that cultivate heart-awareness and enable ‘heart entrainment’ between our three main neurological centres: head, heart, gut.  And with this, our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems cohere and our natural human repertoire coheres. Hormones change, senses liven – we tap into our super-nature, we reorientation our awareness to be co-participating with the generative field of life within and all around us, we re-connect with the ground-of-all-being.

And so to summarise, we are in the midst of a metamorphosis, profound shifts are affecting us at deep and partly unconscious levels, calling in to question our very sense of place and purpose in this world.  How we awakening our awareness of self-other-world is what will enable us to cross the threshold, to shift our consciousness beyond that which creates today’s problems in the first place.

As the French philosopher Marcel Proust who said,

‘The greatest voyage of our lifetimes is not in the seeking of new landscapes, but in the seeing with new eyes.’

 

Giles Hutchins is Chair of The Future Fit Leadership Academy www.ffla.co adviser to a number of leading organisations and co-founder of Regenerators and Biomimicry for Creative Innovation.

 

 

 

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