March 2010 / Feature Articles

Five Spiraling Cycles of Transformational Learning
A Systems Map for Integral Self-Managers/Leaders

by Robert Wayne Johnston

Robert Wayne Johnston

As you probably know much has been written in various and sundry publications about the persistent paucity of effective leaders. My management consulting and business school teaching experience over several decades tells me much of the cause lies in our lack of focus on conscious integral self-management as a vital prerequisite for effective leadership.

My definition of integral self-managing includes consciously choosing one’s responses to not only changes in one’s body but also intentionally selecting emotional and intellectual responses to social and ecological events and circumstances in mutually empathic, healthful, and creative visionary ways.

In this article I introduce my concept of the existential height, depth, and breadth of the challenge we face and an integrally conscious pragmatic systems approach I have been evolving over several decades for meeting it. Its conception was stimulated by my first corporate-wide organization development consulting project for a medium-sized hi-tech Fortune 500 during a beautiful New England autumn in 1966.

During the intervening period of over forty years as both an internal and external organization development consultant to a wide variety of types and sizes of organizations–healthcare, educational, councils on aging, and Fortune 500s–I ascertained through action research processes (survey-feedback. etc.) not only individual uniqueness but also natural common generic values, processes, and behaviors emerge from among the thousands (I’ve lost actual count) of leaders and other workers I was involved with.

I have divided those areas into three: first, the characteristics of an integrally conscious self-manager/leader; second, five spiraling cycles of self-manager/leader transformation and development toward realization of those characteristics; and third, a self-manager/leader development progress checklist for ascertaining feedback and making adjustments needed for staying on course.

Characteristics Of an Integrally Conscious Self-Manager/Leader

The foundation for the following list of fifty natural characteristics of an integrally conscious self-manager/leader is based on my general ‘working hypothesis’ which states: If one views situations from her or his inner ‘seat’ of clear, centered, balanced, timeless awareness, every perception is an option, every interpretation is an option, every response is an option with consequences. Each of those may be controllable, only influenceable, or utterly uncontrollable relative to realizing mutual integral health, wisdom, and full functioning as one consciously responds to events and situations.

From one’s inner place of clear, centered, balanced, timeless awareness an integrally conscious leader:

  1. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of the fundamental value of realizing ‘I am conscious, therefore I am.’ (Inspired by Descarte, 1637)
  2. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that she/he is conscious of their whole full functioning interdependent self–mental, spiritual, physical, emotional, socio-technical, economic, and ecosystem- embedded genuine transtemporal (beyond the temporal) self.
  3. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of being a transparent timeless center of transtemporal conscious awareness within a cosmic ‘ocean’ of timeless aware Mind some call OmniMind or Source of all, i.e. the transparent timeless awareness within is the same as outside. (This experience is analogous to what fish if fully conscious within an infinite ocean of water could well experience relative to the unifying presence of the water within and around them.)
  4. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that the ‘realm’ of health and peace on earth is within as well as outside in nature amid constant change, even seeming chaos.
  5. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of being a self who in conscious oneness with timeless awareness co-manages his/her responses to events and situations from their inner center of being
  6. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that every perception is subject to her/his interpretation about what they perceive, hence every interpretation is an option and every response to their interpretation is an option which, if exercised, tends to elicit consequences for health or ill.
  7. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of being a vital constituent within the interconnecting web inherent in integral nature.
  8. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of his/her major options — being a participant, an experimentalist, explorer, a competitor, a transcender, a passive observer, an avoider or some combination thereof–in cocreatively managing our earth’s health and well being.
  9. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of the laws and principles of integrally healthful nature, e.g. centering, balancing, circulation, moderation (not too much, not too little), and the unhealthful consequences of being in discord with them.
  10. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of the implications of being centered and balanced for health, full functioning, well being, and wise action.
  11. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of the equal importance and complementary opposite nature of feminine and masculine intelligent psycho-spiritual-electromagnetic-physical-social-ecosystemic energy.
  12. Is conceptually and experientially conscious her/his psyche (soul, true self) may have ten inter-communicating functions: oneness with timeless awareness,cocreative self-managing, feminine-masculine intelligences, psychoneuroimmune system, focusing, feeling, thinking, sensing, parasensing and remembering.
  13. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of having been an involuntarily programmed psycho-bio-computer since his/her biologic conception.and at least up until they began to question and now consciously choose their own feelings, thoughts, beliefs, actions, and possessions.
  14. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of her/his ability to liberate their soul from their involuntary conditioning by identifying with timeless awareness, disidentifying with, transcending, adding options to their free repertoire, and cocreatively self-managing their psycho-bio-computer program of feelings, thoughts, actions at will.
  15. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of the probability that their total consciousness is more than their brain, i.e. not just an epiphenomenon.
  16. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that the thoughts he/she chooses cause the secretion of. biochemicals in their body; e.g. endorphins, dopamine, or adrenalin, and what they do to their body – nutrition, exercise, general lifestyle, etc. – influences his/her body, including their brain and mind, for health or ill.
  17. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of their fundamental underlying unity with all humanity and other life-forms throughout the cosmos.
  18. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that we each have probably always lived and will probably continue to live within the cosmos ad infinitum.
  19. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of the importance of being aware of transcending and considering extreme polar opposites and their integrative connecting continua of beliefs, values and behaviors in cocreatively communicating and negotiating with other entities.
  20. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that probably all of us have been involuntarily conditioned since conception to believe, value and act. Hence, each of us are doing the best we can with limited resources until we expand my consciousness to realize our oneness with our all-pervading Source who makes available innumerable resources.
  21. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of their inherent responsibility for designing their work in harmony with integral nature’s laws and principles of self, social and ecosystemic health and wellbeing.
  22. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of the fact that humans have more or less conscious motivations, desires, intentions, and/or objectives.
  23. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that human communication is more or less metaphoric, therefore can be ambiguous and easily misunderstood. One needs, therefore, to listen empathetically to others to gain clearer understanding of their intentions and concerns.
  24. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that she/he is capable of freely choosing their responses to life’s events to the degree they are liberated from their involuntarily programmed values, beliefs, attitudes, motives, intentions, methods, and behaviors.
  25. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that people who cocreatively clarify their intentions and goals; formulate action plans; organize resources in harmony with nature’s principles of self, social and ecosystemic health and well being; are open to feedback and to making adjustments accordingly; can expect a higher degree of success in realizing their intentions within healthful parameters.
  26. Is conceptually and experientially conscious he/she has the choice of communicating with others directively, participatively, or non-directively, or a combination of all three, depending on which will be most empathetic/effective in the situation at hand.
  27. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that probably the closest one can come to reliably predicting the distant future is through the scientific of nature’s various cycles.
  28. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that while we have ‘freedom to choose’ our responses to some degree, there are certain fairly precise limits, e.g. our bodies die at freezing and boiling temperatures; the law of gravitation; the sun ‘rises and sets’ on its own schedule; our bodies need healthful food to function well.
  29. Is conceptually and experientially conscious there will probably always be some conflict in human affairs if for only the reasons that when you are hungry another person is thirsty, they want to sleep when you want to get up, you want to go left when another wants to go right, thus the key to health and peace is not eliminating conflict, per se, one chooses to empathetically respond to it.
  30. Is conceptually and experientially conscious there are basically five ‘families’ of responses to conflict: experimenters, explorers, participators, transcenders, competitors, avoiders, and resigners from which I can choose to healthfully and empathetically respond to conflict, not just the traditional instincts of fight or flight (Johnston, 2009).
  31. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of the fact that one can expect–no matter how noble or healthful their intention–to meet helping forces, neutral forces, and opposing forces, all of which are supported by the apparent love, empathy, and understanding of our timeless aware omnipresent Source.
  32. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of her/his freedom of their will to choose and act to implement their action plans within the parameters provided by a broadly ‘determined’ living cosmos, e.g. our biological bodies are largely determined in their overall design and functioning (DNA to some degree), however, we have freedom of choice as to how and with what they will be fed and used.
  33. Is conceptually and experientially conscious one haa the choice of using scientific or psychospiritual methods, or an integration of both, in problem solving.
  34. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of the fact that a healthful degree of friendly competition is a vital part of life, precluding stagnation and gross imbalances in growth, and encouraging creativity.
  35. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that offensive, defensive, and avoidant, as well as collaborative values and behaviors are needed to keep us and our ecosystem in balance and renewal, hence, healthy, vibrant, creative, competent, and productive.
  36. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that the solution to a problem usually breeds new problems.
  37. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that we are each leaders, followers, and peers, depending on the situation in which we find ourselves.
  38. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of one’s empathetic teacher-facilitator responsibilities when counseling others.
  39. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of being integrally conscious: intrapersonally, interpersonally, and ecosystemically.
  40. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that one’s freedom to deploy temporal healthful choices while cocreatively self- managing is directly related to the extent he/she is consciously identified with the freedom inherent in and the degree to which they are disidentified with temporal attachments, identifications, addictions.
  41. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that she/he is not a temporal ‘ego’ identity but can include temporal ego-states in their repertoire of options–child, adolescent, adult, parent, grandparent–which they can learn to put on or take off like a suit of clothes as appropriate to the person, event and situation at hand.
  42. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that he/she is probably not their temporal personality (mask) but possesses personality traits which they can learn to choose and manage according to the life script they choose.
  43. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that one is not her/his involuntarily learned values, beliefs, motives, attitudes, processes or behaviors, but they can consciously learn to transcend, own, include all those as in their personal repertoire of options, deploying each empathetically, according to the people and situation at hand.
  44. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that one is not his/her temporal thoughts, therefore they are free to choose responses to their thoughts as they want.
  45. Is conceptually and experientially conscious she/he is not their feelings therefore they are free to respond to their feelings with healthfully appropriate thoughts, emotions, and actions.
  46. Is conceptually and experientially conscious one is not the contents of perceptions received via their senses and therefore he/she is free to respond to such contents with healthful thoughts/actions.
  47. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that she/he is not the contents of their parasensory perceptions, for example, telepathic inputs, therefore they are free to respond to such perceptions with healthful thoughts, feelings and actions.
  48. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that one is not the contents of their memories therefore they are free to respond to memories with healthful thoughts and actions.
  49. Is conceptually and experientially conscious of the probability that their temporal personality characteristics reflect their espoused values, beliefs, attitudes, motives and intentions as well as inherited physical attributes, therefore the true genuine ‘them’ is a pure, window-glass-clear constituent of the Macrocosmic transtemporal, timeless, ‘oceanic’, omnipresent, mysterious Source of all consciousness.
  50. Is conceptually and experientially conscious that the way of the Great Paradigm Shift is an integrally healthful way of life, part of a probably never-ending process of becoming–individually, socially and ecosystemically.

So, it is with the intention of realizing the above-described characteristics of the integrally conscious self-manager/leader that I have come to see the inherently natural integrated process of five spiraling cycles of transformational learning taking conscious direction.

Overview of Five Spiraling Cycles Of Self-Manager/LeaderTransformational Learning

Represented in Figure 1 (Figure 1 is available by writing to Bob Johnston are ‘snapshots’ of cycles extracted from their spirals. The five cycles include soul-brain wave transformation; soul incarnation transformation; cocreative self-managing transformation; interpersonal relationships transformation; and evolution’s repeating cycle of transformation, all of which, I hypothesize, intercommunicate and are energized by an infinite timeless caring ‘ocean’ of omnipresent nurturing Mind-Spirit (Johnston 2005), inclusive of the Akashic field (Laszlo 2004) and electromagnetic fields, all of which appear to be in and around us, permeating and connecting us all within One integral primordial being.

Thus, this integral systems map is the result of the discovery and integration of natural transtemporal, transpersonal, personal, interpersonal, evolutionary ecosystem orientations. It is based generally on results from my action research involving several transforming organizations, and teaching MBA students, all of which began, as mentioned earlier, in 1966 together with guidance provided by my psychospiritual consultant OmniMind (OM for short).

For those readers not familiar with my use of it, I prefer the term ‘transtemporal’ (beyond the temporary) to the more popular expression “transpersonal” (beyond the personal) in this context for the reason that in my perspective the transtemporal life (timeless life between temporary lives) is the primordial, ageless, timeless psychospiritual realm from which transpersonal souls not yet evolved to transtemporal consciousness came to temporally incarnate within biologic personalities to experience consciousness expansion situations and events which would qualify them to perform selected occupations in the further evolution of the multiverse (omniverse).

As you read my paper I suggest remembering this caveat, “A map is not the territory it represents, but if correct it has a similar structure to the territory it represents.” – Semanticist Alfred Korzybski. (1990)

Some Foundational ‘Working Hypotheses’

  • Transformation is constantly occurring…for more or less health or ill…individually, socially, ecosystemically, and cosmically.
  • A goal of most transformational projects is to facilitate souls’ consciousness expansion toward ultimately realizing the height, depth, breadth, and scope of Oneness with our timeless ‘oceanic’ primordial Source of All and to qualify for work in the further of evolution in the multiverse.
  • When a soul has reached its timeless aware home she or he consciously recognizes they are seamlessly One with our all-accepting and nurturing primordial anima-animus Source of everything.
  • In a state of conscious awareness free of temporal attachments, literally every value, belief, intention, attitude, method, process, and behavior is an option in one’s repertoire of choices.
  • A social goal is to consciously recognize that but-for-the-luck-of-the-draw any one of us could have been any other individual in the history of the world and that individual us.
  • Transformational projects best include ingredients encouraging mind-body-social-ecosystem health, full functioning, and well being.
  • Transformation often takes place quickly, but may be quickly extinguished without reinforcing development efforts, ergo, both transformational and longer term developmental efforts are needed.
  • People accept opportunities for transformation if they see practical healthful benefits important to them in expected results.
  • Assuming no irrerversible severe brain trauma or nutrition deficiency, one can expect to healthfully transform and develop mentally and spiritually even if their biological body loses power.
  • We most effectively expand consciousness, learn, transform, and develop through doing and receiving feedback what we have done.
  • In any transformational project, no matter how healthful and noble the intentions, realistically, one can expect to meet three kinds of social and other environmental forces: one, more or less friendly-supportive forces; two, neutral fence-sitting forces, and three, unfriendly-opposing forces.

There probably exist ten temporal spheres of consciousness

  1. Bio-conception-birth
  2. Geo-biological Factors
  3. Security-Safety
  4. Social Belonging
  5. Ego-States
  6. Brain Functions
  7. Soul/Psyche/Self
  8. Cosmic Dark & Light
  9. Anima-Animus Energy
  10. Conscious-Coconscious

There are more basic assumptions but for the purpose of this article those listed above will suffice.


It was 1966 and I had been transferred across country a few months earlier from Stanford’s Research Park to my company’s headquarters in Lexington, MA. My new mission was to start a corporate-wide organization development project involving 7,600 people. Other than having a good reputation as a human resources manager for their research laboratory, earlier experience as a management systems specialist, and a teacher, I wasn’t really qualified for the job. But then in those days hardly anyone was qualified for such a job for the field of OD was so new.

I enrolled in an intensive two-week Training Group (T-Group) held during the summer by the National Training Laboratories (NTL) on the beautiful campus of a boys’ prep school in Bethel, Maine. This was a far more powerful and thorough-going metamorphosis of my most basic espoused values and values in use (Argyris 1972) than I had imagined could be possible, a personal noetic transformation which continues in its impact to this day and may well continue ad infinitum. For details you may want to read my SIA blog “My most powerful experience of transformation in a group” (Johnston 2007).

One of the vital things I learned a year later during a more advanced two-week NTL program which concentrated on organization development was to first examine in depth my values as a consultant. After much psychospiritual struggle and travail I decided my values necessitated moving from a predominantly directive facilitative behavior to a more participative mode in my organization consulting work. It wasn’t an easy transformation but over about a year and many mistakes I evolved to working with my client system participatively most of the time, reserving directive behavior for emergencies. Also, I learned that to be truly effective as a consultant-facilitator, ironically, I best take the attitude of working myself out of a job, analogous to the attitude of parents working themselves out of the job of parenting when their children reach self-management maturity.

Some More ‘Working Hypotheses’

  • A ‘working hypothesis’ I have found useful says every assumption, psycho-bio-geo form, value, belief, meaning, motive, attitude, method, behavior, and possession with which one identifies, dominates her or him. Every value, belief, etc. with which one can disidentify and transcend, one can learn to choose to use, transform or defer use. Literally, every perception, interpretation, and response to life’s events are potential options for health or for ill (Adapted from Assagioli 1968).
  • Another hypothesis is that when growing and transforming healthfully each cycle expresses in expanding spirals. However, when transforming retrogressively due to disease and illness each cycle diminishes and if a temporal cycle it ultimately stops in death. These cycles may occur extremely fast or more or less slowly depending on the people, event, and context thereof.
  • Transformation can occur quickly, but if it is to continue will probably do so in a slower more developmental manner. A useful analogy demonstrating the difference between transformation and development is a baby who has been crawling around on all fours staring mostly at the floor suddenly pulls itself up to a chair hanging on for dear life. We can call that kind of change transformational in that it was relatively quick and the baby now has a new perspective on life. But most babies don’t last very long on two feet before they fall to the floor and do some more crawling.

Then they do the transformative maneuver again…and again until they are able stand longer and longer lengths of time even if wobbly. Later a baby will move unsteadily away from the chair, plop down, climb up, and plop down many times before developing the muscles necessary to walk without falling. With a lot more practice and coaching they become expert walkers, even runners, hoppers, hopscotchers, etc. In other words, after the initial transformational act of moving from crawler to stander it takes the baby time and work to develop the balance, strength and confidence to do all those advanced maneuvers.

Another thing I suggest keeping in mind as you read the five cycles of transformation is that each is almost constantly communicating with every phase of the other cycles within their spirals. Because the software on my PC doesn’t provide for graphically displaying all the communications possibilities between the cycles I ask that you try to imagine all that going on as you read through them. In actuality they are far more psycho-organic and dynamic than they appear in the graphic titled “Five Spiraling Cycles of Transformational Learning” (which as you will see makes them appear quite mechanical).

All-Pervading Mind Nurturing Us All

The context for this integral noetic ‘map’ is provided by my non-theistic ‘working hypothesis’ that a transparent infinite ‘sea’ of timeless primordial consciousness I call OmniMind permeates, nurtures, experiments with and is the Source of all temporal energy, including the quantum, plasma, and electromagnetic fields. Actually I prefer the term ‘ocean’ over “field” “or “ground of being” because I experience living and having my being within an infinite timeless ‘sea’ which constantly permeates my entire conscious awareness connecting me with every other entity in the cosmos.

OmniMind, according to my ‘working hypothesis’, is transtemporal (beyond everything temporal but inclusive of and permeating everything temporal). Thus, similar to the First Law of Thermodynamics,

OM can be neither created nor destroyed but only changes into temporal forms and back again to its pristine transtemporal formless being upon death of temporal forms. In my hypothesis OmniMind is the window-glass-clear is the intelligent Omnipresence which is the common denominator of both the brightest white light and the darkest black light and all the shades in the spectrum between. If you are interested in getting a better understanding of my working hypotheses in narrative form I suggest you read my SIA blog titled “My Integral Noetic Allegory About Our Origin and Purpose on Earth” (Johnston, 2005).

Also, while I didn’t have the benefit of Edgar Mitchell’s book The Way of the Explorer (1996); Dean Radin’s The Conscious Universe (1997); Erwin Laszlo’s Science and the Akashic Field (2004), and Gary Schwartz and Linda Russet’s The Living Energy Universe (1999) at the time I was developing this integral systems concept of consciousness I later found their views, at least as I interpret their writings, substantially supportive of my hypothesis underlying the existence of a preexisting primordial timeless all-pervading Mind (OmniMind) even though specific apparently infinite attributes of that Mind remain a mystery.

According to my hypothesis Anima-Animus OmniMind cocreatively evolve every life form within Her-His oceanic self whether we are conscious of it or not. I have come to see that Anima and Animus are equally important yet complementary opposites working together as a mutually respectful and wonderful team. Some have termed this cocreative experience as being in the ‘flow”. For more discussion about the flow you may want to read my SIA blog “Which flow do you want to flow with?” (Johnston 2008).

As I mentioned earlier, when you get to the attached graphic you will find it is easiest read by starting in the center circle then outward, cycle by cycle. I will start here with a brief introduction of the center circle shown in the center of the graphic as “Functions of the Soul” as follows.

Soul-Brain Wave Cycles of Transformation

While to date no one has adequately defined the soul (psyche, authentic self) per se, I have come to see there are identifiable functions. In 1966 as a starting place for consciously reviewing my own values relative to both individual and social transformation, I initially adapted Carl G. Jung’s (1966) two-dimensional model of the intra-communicating and social inter-communicating psyche. His model includes four functions: thinking, feeling, intuition, sensation.

Insights and data gained through my action research involving hundreds of people of virtually every occupation through the intervening years to the present have strongly suggested a four-dimensional psyche with six additional functions to Jung’s four, bringing the total functions to ten: They include:

  1. integral conscious awareness of cocreative oneness with our omnipresent timeless Source of all
  2. integral cocreative self-managing in harmony with our Source’s natural laws (includes eliminating waste, disease and making adjustments to keep me on integral healthful path)
  3. integrating, centering and balancing one’s anima and animus intelligences
  4. intercommunicating with brainwaves and general nervous systems, etc.
  5. focusing on intentions
  6. empathetic feeling and emoting
  7. cocreative thinking–rational and arrational (chaotic brainstorming for creativity)
  8. using all five senses
  9. using all five parasenses (without having to go into trance)
  10. short and long term remembering

The question then arose: How do the transtemporal functions of one’s soul connect and communicate with one’s biological body? The answer seems to lie through a psychospiritual connection between all ten functions of one’s soul and the five known brain waves known as gamma, beta, alpha (including mu), theta, and delta, all of which are measured in terms of cycles per second (hertz). To illustrate I invite you to review a ‘snapshot’ of the intercommunications between my soul and body via brainwaves in my SIA blog “My Inner Transformational Experiences & Their Brainwave Patterns: An Integral Noetic Approach” (Johnston, 2007).

Moving outward from the center circle, the next circle in the attached graphic describes the main elements of the cycle of transformation associated with the incarnation life-cycle.

Soul Incarnation Cycle of Transformation

I have identified the second cycle of natural transformational learning as the “Soul Incarnation Cycle.” Implied in the life cycle of earthly incarnation is the pre-existence of a life-between-lives experience of transformation. That to me provides the context within which all other cycles of transformation function. I arrived at this hypothesis after reviewing research evidence provided by certified regression hypnotherapist Michael Newton (2004). His data was derived from analyzing and compiling the anecdotal accounts of approximately 7,000 patients who Newton had interviewed while in a hypnotherapeutic regressed state. For more you may want to read my SIA blog “Life Between Lives” (Johnston, 2006).

Generally, Newton’s studies, while seeming impeccably analyzed, synthesized, and compiled, by his own voluntary disclosure were not scientifically verified. My own subjectively acquired knowledge of some of my own previous incarnations correlate well with his findings. Though there are many gaps in my own reincarnation record there are enough significant correlations to suggest some reliable ‘working hypotheses’.

One of those has to do with seven stages of soul transformation as graphically displayed in my SIA blog “Soul Consciousness Expansion: An Integral Noetic Overview” (Johnston, 2006).

One of the key findings consistently reported by people in his study is the fact they entered their current incarnation with a soul development plan they wanted to accomplish during their present time on earth. This plan was agreed upon before incarnating between the soul and their psychospiritual guide. Progress would be reviewed with their soul guide after their biological body’s death and return to the life between lives. So it is within that context the soul incarnation cycle of transformation while on earth is described.

Specifically, the Soul Incarnation Cycle reads: a. Contingent on my soul development mission for this incarnation, and the contents of the involuntary enculturation I receive from the time I enter my fetus and its genetic inheritance > b. I am attracted to soul development experiences which support my earthly mission > c. I mature into pubescence and adolescence and may then begin questioning my enculturated beliefs > d. During my adolescence the stress and strain of identity crises arise > e. I mature into adulthood, I question my beliefs and may adopt new ones; may mate with another soul and become a parent > f. In older adulthood my body strength diminishes; barring illness or brain injury my mind power may increase > g, My biological body separates from me (timeless soul), dies and returns to the Earth > h. I return to my life between lives and am met by welcoming spirit guides > i. I integrate my soul development experience into my soul memory map and consider reincarnating.

The next circle on the attached graphic describes what I have come to see as a cocreative self-managing cycle of transformation.

Cocreative Self-Managing Cycle of Transformation

Within the context of a nurturing all-pervading and cocreative OmniMind and two previously described cycles of transformation, this cycle of cocreative self-managing of one’s transformations with OmniMind assumes two things: 1) Although always present with and in us, in my experience OmniMind manages by exception, i.e. only when all else fails and/or one requests assistance does it step in to help us out; and then it is usually by offering creative options from which one can choose; and 2) through the psycho-biological principle of autopoesis (inherent self-organizing function) each of us are, in effect, ‘delegated’ the responsibility for managing our responses to life’s events.

Almost inevitably the question of ‘free will’ and how much of it each of us really has arises. I have written a SIA blog which may be of interest to you: “How Free is ‘Free Will’?” (Johnston, 2009).

The Cocreative Self-Managing Cycle of Transformation starts with

  1. Contingent on the extent of the clarity of my life mission; my identification with clear timeless aware OmniMind; freedom from temporal attachments; the extent of my repertoire of options; and my self-management skills for responding healthfully to change in the ten temporal spheres of consciousness
  2. I choose my response to each life situation by…>
  3. Reviewing my life mission and options for action in harmony with Nature’s principles;
  4. I envision my health-producing intentions and objectives, and formulate action plans as I want;
  5. I initiate action to realize my objectives/plans;
  6. I receive feedback from my body, dreams, other people, and ecosystem relative to integral health-producing progress toward realizing my life mission and supporting objectives for empathetically relating to others and our ecosystem;
  7. I evaluate feedback, changing my attitudes to the degree needed for optimum integral health;
  8. I integrate my memories of this cycle with previous memories in the form of a transformed and up-dated mind-body map of my range of existentially available options, for health or ill;
  9. I start a new cycle (by returning to phase a. above).

Next comes the…

Interpersonal Relationships Cycle of Transformation

Then I asked myself what a natural model for individual transformational learning within a dynamic interdependent intercommunicating social environment might look like. What at the time seemed serendipitous an issue of The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science appeared in my mailbox. In it was an article titled “An Existential Learning ‘Theory’ and Integration of T-Group Research” written by Charles Hampden-Turner (1966) when he was at Harvard Business School. His insightful work provided the ‘seed data’ which would help me integrate Jung’s model of the psyche and my T-Group experience. This served as the foundational material for later development of transformational theory based on action research I was doing with my clients. I now describe it as the “Interpersonal Relationships Cycle of Transformation” as described below:

The Interpersonal Relationships Cycle of Transformation starts with

  1. Contingent on the extent of my consciousness, conditioning, identity, personality, mind-body health, empathy, repertoire of options, and cocreative-self-management competence…>
  2. I choose among three options–collaborative, directive, and nondirective–to empathetically relate to each person situationally;
  3. Within an intentionally healthful frame of reference;
  4. By letting go and risking a part of my social self-image and feelings of security;
  5. To reach out and seek to understand from through actively listening;
  6. To increase my understanding of the other’s feelings, thoughts, and behavior;
  7. And seek new assurance that I am an increasingly competent co-self-manger in communicating with all sorts of people;
  8. According to the quality of empathy experienced by the other on integral sensory levels;>
  9. They will respond to me by moving toward mutual healthful understanding or they will avoid me, moving toward separation, even destructive conflict;
  10. I integrate my transformational communications experience into my expanding inner mental map…I start a new cycle of interpersonal relationships.

Evolution’s Reapeating Cycle of Transformation

Evolutionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris described this cycle of transformation in her book EarthDance–Living Systems in Evolution (1999).

She writes, “…what matters is to understand this new way of seeing that all evolution of the great cosmos and of our own planet within it–is an endless dance of wholes that separate themselves into parts and parts that join into mutually consistent new wholes. We can see it as a repeating, sequentially spiraling pattern.”

Her version of evolution’s repeating cycle includes these phases:

  1. Unity
  2. Individuation
  3. Tension/Conflict
  4. Negotiation
  5. Resolution
  6. Cooperation
  7. the cycle repeats, re-starting with Unity.

Ecological forces of evolutionary change as they intercommunicate with every other cycle of transformation outlined in this article may be experienced as controllable, only influenceable, and/or totally uncontrollable depending on the intelligence, speed, and power of the particular ecological force and the situation at hand.

My Integral Self-Managing/Leading Progress Checklist

Based on the fact that expansion of consciousness itself–in terms of a centered, dynamically balancing integration of expanding height, depth and breadth of conceptual and experiential conscious awareness–is a powerful transformational experience, I developed the following checklist to check myself on how well I am doing relative to my integral managing/leading objectives.

I place a check mark (√) in the space which best reflects the amount of time (figuratively speaking) I currently devote to consciously practicing the particular variable. Then I place a target (target ) at a place on the continuum which best reflects the amount of time I intend to consciously devote to conceptualizing and putting it into my daily practice. My two profiles: 1) how much time I’m now devoting to the particular variable; 2) how much I intend to devote to it–just naturally emerge.

The two profiles could theoretically be the same, however that would be unlikely. By the way, I use the term “time” as a metaphor, not as a specific amount of time counted by minutes, hours, etc. so hypothetically I could be devoting, say 100%, of my time to each of the variables simultaneously. If time as metaphor bothers you, perhaps substituting the word “priority” in lieu of time may be useful.

Last, I decide when I am going to review feedback from my dreams, body, other entities and ecosystem on how well I’m doing relative to my targets, focusing on my self, social and global transformation toward an integrally conscious, healthful, empathetic, full functioning state of wellbeing.

Finally, a note to OD consultants: You may find this checklist useful as a survey-feedback instrument.

Integral Self-Managed
Leader Development Progress Checklist











I have generally described the context within which I discovered and formulated natural general ‘working hypotheses’ tested during my practice of individual self-managing/leading within a wide range of organization cultures. Originating with my first organization development consulting project in a medium-sized corporation during the mid-1960s I discovered and evolved natural integral transformational concepts, values, and practices including a list of characteristics describing integrally conscious self-manager/leaders. Then emerged my five intercommunicating spiraling cycles of transformational learning, namely: 1) soul-brain wave cycles of transformation; 2) soul incarnation cycle, 3) cocreative self-managing cycle; 4) interpersonal relationships cycle; and 5) evolution’s repeating cycle of transformation. All those cycles are embedded within, energized, and nurtured by a infinite primordial timeless ‘ocean’ of omnipresent Mind-Spirit (‘OmniMind’ for short). While for me my hypotheses have shown themselves in my consulting practice to be reliable theory, I realize that until readers test them for themselves they must remain ‘working hypotheses’. Finally, I described an integral self-manager/leader development checklist. I hope you have enjoyed reading this article as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Appendix A

My Method for Clearing My Psyche (Soul) of Barriers to Effective Self-Managing/Leading

First, I found it useful to discover that by becoming conscious of my involuntarily conditioned deeply stored mental and emotional ‘heirlooms’, those involuntarily ‘inherited’ values, beliefs, and behaviors stored within my amygdala which I now found self-defeating I could consciously decide when, where, how, if at all, I wanted to use them, thus negating the power of and preventing amygdala hijackings (Adapted from Assagioli, 1968).

Second, I found it useful to become aware of the polarities and dualities in my inherited values which predisposed me to black or white, either-or, and win-lose decisions when a decision based on flexible ‘more or less’ considerations in the spectrum of choices could help produce win-win decisions in certain situations (Adapted from Assagioli, 1968).

Third. I found it useful to become consciously aware of the involuntarily conditioned attachments and addictions to certain values, beliefs, attitudes, intentions, processes, behaviors, and material possessions deep within my psyche and learn how to disidentify with them so that I could manage them rather than continuing to let them manage me.

Fourth, I found it useful to develop my self-management skills within a systems context so as to effectively regulate the three variables above through feedback communicated by bodily responses, my dreams, and from other people.

So it was within the context of those four challenges that I set out in the middle 1960s to discover the possibility of a natural existential model of a conscious integral leader-manager process. To make a very long odyssey much shorter that is the theme of this paper. My first step was to identify characteristics of an integrally conscious leader-manager.


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About the Author

Robert Wayne Johnston, PhD has been a pioneer in consciousness expansion, integral self-management, creative leadership, and organization transformation and development since 1966. Working as both an internal and external consultant, he specialized in guiding top managements of small to large non-profit and Fortune 500 companies through the process of starting-up corporate-wide organization development projects from scratch. Concurrently, he was curriculum consultant and adjunct professor teaching human behavior in organizations in two graduate schools of business. He has published widely and made numerous presentations at conferences.

During the ten years before retiring, he changed somewhat the focus of his vocation to introduce his innovative in-depth transformational self-management processes in psychiatric and traumatic brain injury rehabilitation. Now an active retiree, Bob has been giving back to society by doing mostly volunteer consulting work in the areas of self-management for healthful aging and creative leadership for non-profit local, state, and national councils on aging, and the White House Conference on Aging. He founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences Community Group in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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