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  • Writer's pictureMichael Stern

Integral Development for Emerging Leaders

Updated: Apr 18, 2020

A new project is emerging in my life. Or, perhaps it’s more accurate to say an old project is re-emerging with new energy. Or, perhaps it’s most accurate to say that a new iteration of The Project is emerging, which transcends and includes all previous expressions.

In any case, it’s still at a very early stage, and continues to change rapidly, but I’ve been encouraged by the enthusiastic feedback so far. I invite you to share your questions, reflections, and suggestions. I trust the Collective Intelligence to refine the vision, steering the process toward a more effective result.

The essential concept is a Personal and Professional Development Incubator for Millennials. The elevator pitch might sound something like this:

“We support the Next Generation of Leaders to Realize their Vision of a Better World through the Synthesis of Personal Transformation and Social Innovation.”

My generation is coming of age during a time of unprecedented disruption and complexity. As humanity is on the threshold of its next evolutionary leap, a shift in consciousness is needed to adequately address the challenges and opportunities we face.

Current life conditions make us ripe for this developmental transition, and put us in a position where our leadership has vast and profound implications for the future of our species and our planet. As “Emerging Leaders” we need to develop the perspectives, relationships, and competencies that will enable us to effectively navigate and steward this pivotal moment in our process.

The program design would illuminate the interdependence of inner, outer, individual, and collective transformation, based on the following principles:

  • Wake Up. The recent insights of science confirm what the mystics have always taught - ultimately we are interdependent with each other and with all Life. Recognition and direct experience of this Truth must be the foundation for our values, beliefs, and behaviors.

  • Grow Up. We must expand our circle of care by embracing higher, deeper, and wider perspectives. We must also heal the wounds that keep us separated, fragmented, and polarized from ourselves, each other, and the world.

  • Show Up. The shift in consciousness must find expression through passionate engagement and courageous action, and it must be grounded in the material world through creating new social systems that are coherent with the natural laws of the universe.

The basic building blocks of the program would be:

  • Online Teaching Sessions. Guest presenters introduce powerful perspectives and practices to spark meaningful thinking, conversation, and action for the participants.

  • In-person Coaching Circles. Participants deepen relational awareness through giving and receiving feedback, supporting each other to clarify and express their gifts.

  • Individual Home Practice. Participants apply learning from the group meetings, embodying insight through meaningful action.

  • Study/Practice Groups. Participants would meet in groups of 3 on a regular basis to deepen understanding, support practice, and strengthen accountability.

Participants will engage in practices to help them develop across the primary dimensions of their life - Self, Love, and Work - infused throughout with the Spirit of Play. The program might follow a modular structure, with some possible examples of modules being:

  • Awakening to Your True Self: The Inner Science of Enlightenment

  • Stages of Development: The Evolution of Consciousness and Culture

  • Shadow Work: Cultivating Wholeness through Healing and Integration

  • Embodied Leadership: The Power of Purpose

  • Contemplative Collaboration: Accessing and Expressing Collective Wisdom

  • Prototyping the Future: Applying Design Thinking to Your Life and Work

  • Triple Bottom Lines: How to Think and Act Like A Social Entrepreneur

  • Self-Optimization: Habits, Tools & Skills for Sustainable High Performance

The target audience for this program, in addition to being within the 21-35 age range, would likely fit somewhere on a spectrum between two poles:

  • Spiritual seekers who have invested significant resources in developing their own consciousness, and who have at least tasted some higher states. While they may hold a beautiful vision of what’s possible, they are not manifesting an impact on the world through their work at the level they would like.

  • Social innovators/activists who have invested significant resources attempting to change external systems, and who have committed themselves to building a more sustainable and just world. While they may engage some form of yoga/mindfulness/spiritual practice, they do not fully grasp the significance of their own inner development and its relationship to the effectiveness of their work.

Thus the program would offer value to both types in the form of “an integral upgrade” bringing together Being & Doing, showing how the inner and outer work are inseparable and the next stage of humanity must be grounded in their synthesis.

Extraordinary times need extraordinary leaders, and I am recognizing my calling to help develop a generation of deeply awake, mature, and engaged individuals, who are prepared to fully meet whatever lies ahead. In many ways, my impulse to develop this program is a response to my own deep wish that such a program already existed to help me realize my own potential.

I am excited to have a small group of enthusiastic collaborators who have joined me for this early phase of whatever is happening here. If you feel called to participate or support, I’d love to hear from you.

May we courageously step into the unknown, and offer our collective wisdom, love, and power in service of creating a better, more truthful and beautiful world.

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