It’s likely that we’ve been educated to see nature as innately competitive, as separate species struggle for survival in a dog-eat-dog world amid a clockwork universe devoid of meaning. Even our nature programs on TV sensationalize the competitive nature of life. Combat, struggle, and strife, it seems, entice our attention and make for gripping viewing.  From this mechanistic perspective, the only point to life is self-preservation through maximization, where one only survives in this world by outcompeting others. The irony is that this narrowed focus on self-preservation and competition is undermining our evolution, and therefore our self-preservation.

“The creature that wins against its environment destroys itself.”  Gregory Bateson

A hyper-competitive view of life has been applied to everything from the genes in our bodies to the soil beneath our feet, from organizations to the wider business environment, from socioeconomics to civilization itself.  Yes, competition and survival are important aspects of life, yet the nature in our own bodies, in life around us, and throughout our organizations, neighbourhoods, and cities is far richer, more complex, and inter-relational than what the narrowed Mechanistic Materialism view provides.

What really happens in nature is that the chromosome, gene, nucleus, cell, organ, organism, and ecosystem all evolve in relation with each other through a rich interplay of collaboration and competition. In fact, science now recognizes that collaboration is the overriding evolutionary force—not competition. Interdependency, reciprocity, and relationality are what make life happen, all the way down to the quark strings within atoms and the molecules that make up our living cells, through to the teams within the organization inter-relating within a wider business ecosystem of diverse stakeholders including society and the more-than-human world. Everything and everyone learn and evolve through continuous sensing-responding of energetic exchanges with everything and everyone else. Participation rather than competition better characterizes life on Earth.

Evolution is not a linear chain reaction fueled by separate beings in competition. It’s a complex combination of tensions and reciprocal interactions, interpenetrations and inner-outer dynamics that create a nonlinear network within which evolution plays out through emergent sequences that seamlessly connect all life. This nonlinearity of interactions can seem like chaos. However, it is self-organizing and constitutes a higher form of order. No disorder or randomness here, only meaning to be found all the way down. Everything is full of energy and consciousness, and there is no distinction between the physical and metaphysical.

Rather than the mind-matter spirit-science split that has shaped the Western worldview for the last 400 years of Mechanistic Materialism, recent quantum physics, complexity science and facilitation ecology findings reveal the interconnected nature of life, from social systems to the soil in our fields.  Mind and matter are two sides of the same coin. 

Within the energetic patterns and forms of all living beings resides soul-essence and spirit.  Mind is never divorced from matter, and energy follows thought, emotion, intention and awareness. Instead of outer forms and function dominating our perspective on what to value, measure and implement, we also need to become conscious of the animating sentience inherent throughout life and the power of intention and attention we bring to our participations within life.

This understanding, whilst relatively new to Western science, is of course not at all new. Throughout Eastern philosophy we find emphasis on interconnectedness and right-thought, for instance in Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Tantra, Vedanta and animist aboriginal traditions found the world over.

And it’s not new to the Western mind either. For instance, Heraclitus of Ephesus some 2,500 years ago taught how everything is engaged in an intentional process of becoming; microcosm in relation to macrocosm. The founding fathers of Western philosophy and science, Plato and Aristotle, also knew that the psyche of the individual interacts with events outside itself, and that wellbeing and wisdom are found through the soul’s harmonic attunement within inner-outer nature. And more recently the psychologist C G Jung explored the importance of nonlocal acausal synchronicities rooted in the rhizome of the all-pervasive Field/Pleroma (or Tao). Synchronicities are a coherence of inner-outer nature, which our own conscious minds can aid, if we so choose.

We can perhaps all recall coincidental ‘chance’ encounters, déjà vu’s or short-lived peak-experiences that open our being to an invisible depth whereupon we glimpse an appreciation of totality and mystery.  Such moments are meaning-making, whereupon we feel connected rather than isolated, and part of a dynamic participation in the very fabric of evolution itself.

Evolution, after all, is developmental. A co-creative inner-outer dynamic of emergent learning where soul-essence becomes more whole through adaptivity and learning.  We sense ourselves as co-creators within life, rather than isolated billiard balls bouncing around purposelessly like ‘units of selfish ascendency’ in a world devoid of meaning driven only by blind-chance and hyper-competitiveness, as Neo-Darwinism would have us believe.

Interestingly, amid synchronistic moments our physiology shifts at the same time as our psychology shifts. The psyche opens along with the bodymind cohering as we experience these moments of interconnectedness. Left and right brain hemispheres’ cohere, head-heart-gut entrain, senses liven, hormones change, even brain synapses and plasticity enhance.  We are more alive, more at-one, more human, coherent and whole. I call this ‘activating our super-nature’ where intuitive, emotional, somatic and rational ways of knowing work together as-one, rather than the disconnected rational-analytic ego-mind seeking dominance while creating separateness and dis-ease.

Through the power of our conscious intention and attention, and through various practices, we can enable this activation of our super-nature and so regenerate our humanity from the inside out.

‘The one who looks outside dreams. The one who looks inside awakens.’  C G Jung

We can encourage these meaning-making moments of synchronicity into our lives in ways that not only guide and inform our future-fit leadership amid volatile times aiding our capacity to embrace complexity and also allow us to be more in touch with our soul-purpose and its dynamic process of becoming within the emergent-evolutionary nature of life, therefore aiding our innate regenerative potential as leaders and human-beings.  As psychiatrist Jean Shinoda Bolen notes,

‘Synchronistic events offer us perceptions that may be useful in our psychological and spiritual growth and may reveal to us through intuitive knowledge, that our lives have meaning.’

When I experience synchronistic moments, I feel wisdom and grace flow in, and I sense that wisdom is not sourced inside the analytic-head but flows through inner-outer nature: Nature’s Wisdom. It’s like a tear in the fabric of the illusion of separation occurs and Nature’s Wisdom pours in, beyond the surface, an oceanic numinous depth becomes available – an awesome and humbling glimpse of what lies behind the humdrum of everyday utility yet pervading our presence amid every moment. We become more human, and conscious of our co-creative potential within the evolution of life on Earth.  We begin to awaken to what it really means to be human, beyond mere survivalism and competition, as caretakers and participants within the sacredness of life, Nature and cosmos.

‘The greatest breakthroughs of the 21st century, won’t occur become of technology. They will occur because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.’ John Nisbett

The 400-year-old mindset of Mechanistic Materialism that dominates the modern Western mind – busily being exported to all corners of the world – conditions us to see the surface of things, and to ignore inner-nature. In doing so, we miss the meaningfulness of patterns, principles and purposefulness pervading the nature of our lives.  We become uprooted from the rhizome of regeneration and so degeneration forms in our minds and also in our business ventures.

Central to any regenerative revolution is the essential need to realign inner and outer nature, left and right brain hemisphere, heads and hearts, mind and matter, masculine and feminine, yin and yang.

‘When masculine and feminine combine, all things achieve harmony.’ Lao Tzu

Any leadership development course, book, module or method that overlooks (or is ignorant of) the importance of inner-coherence for outer-harmony is a mere manifestation of Mechanistic Materialism, and will do precious little to guide our leaders through the next decade of seismic sea-change and immense volatility.  Hence why, in my regenerative leadership coaching approaches and practices, leaders are aided to not merely cope with complexity but truly thrive amid rising complexity, volatility and uncertainty in becoming future-fit, while also activating their super-nature and becoming more human, more purposeful, more whole.

See here a short article written by one of the CEO’s of an award-winning B Corp who I am honoured to coach in Leading by Nature while Navigating through Transformative Times.

And as another CEO I coach, Jayne Mayled, notes:

‘Having been ‘leadership development-ed’ up to my eyeballs in my corporate years, Giles Hutchins brings a unique mix of skills and techniques to coaching for these transformative times.’

For more on coaching with Giles, visit his website here

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