Notes from the Field: Notes from the Field Integral Leadership for Sustainability

October 2009 / Notes from the Field

Emil Möller

Erik Möller

“Integral Leadership for Sustainability”
held 4-9 Aug 2009 in the Netherlands.

From the ExperienceIntegral website:

Are you awake?
Are you on a mission?
Do you have a big ego and an even bigger heart?
Are you an emerging leader?

You are an emerging leader if you are striving to offer your best to the world by challenging yourself to keep expanding your consciousness, while at the same time deepening your connection with self, other and kosmos. Your specialised field of evolving leadership could range from science to politics, arts to organizational development, to all of these or none of these. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. But what makes a great leader is a big vision combined with a grounded awareness of self, surroundings and the desire to act.

This review addresses the seminar on ‘Integral Leadership for Sustainable Evolution’ held in Venwoude, Netherlands, August 4th through 9th 2009. The trainers were Clint Fuhs, Barrett C. Brown, Irini Rockwell, Sydney Leijenhorst, Jesse McKay, Pelle Billing, Valentina Tassone, Rik Hoevers and Anouk Brack.

Follow up details on and 
Read all articles on leadership and sustainability and watch the videos of the event at

This review will be limited to some personal observations. The main reason is that the corresponding upper left quadrant often is left out in reviews in academia, which leads to ineffective ways of addressing issues that formally are addressed.

The sheer fact that a seminar with this working title was organized and found resonance amongst some 25 participants gives hope that forces serving the common good are gaining strength. The initiators have my deep respect.

Some observations:

1. As far as I know, no ‘before and after’ study has been conducted on the motivation regarding the subject matter of seminars and the like in the field of sustainability. This comes as no surprise, since such qualitative interior oriented studies are out of line with the bulk of academic research.

This is an important and often overlooked, if not ignored, dimension of the slow progress being effectuated regarding the subject matter formally addressed. It could be argued that academic studies have limited impact on policy makers in the field of sustainability. This leaves out the impact of academics themselves as actors in other domains, like the media, public debate, the political domain as well as in roles they play in the corporate and NGO domains.

2. The seminar under review explicitly addressed this interior dimension. A relatively rich mixture of lines of development were addressed in the UL-quadrant, with corresponding phenomena in the other quadrants (as compared to other seminars regarding sustainability). High quality input for the intellect, the emotional and the bodily sensors were offered and well accepted.

Regarding the intellect, the following could be worth remarking:

➢ The basics of the diverse crises related to sustainability were not elaborated upon, probably since participants were considered sufficiently informed. This left out the forming of concrete ideas on, for example, Plan B 3.0 by Lester Brown, as mentioned in the recommended reading list provided to participants in advance of the seminar. Why this was addressed (or not) in this way and what was intended is not clear to me. As I experience it, a common disintegration of the group present at Venwoude occurred, which is not what was intended during the seminar. The decision to start a Facebook community indicated a desire to keep the integrity of the group intact. To what extent the probable low intensity of this community after the face-to-face phase has been anticipated is unclear to me. Given the challenging odds Integral Leadership for Sustainable Evolution is dealing with and the potentially positive role of Satsangha, more insight into creating Satsangha would be an interesting dimension in increasing effectiveness of seminars in the field of sustainability. Mesh-works would be a technology to include in such an endeavor.

➢ The lectures on various dimensions of integral theory were informative, but lacked integration with heart and hands. The lecture by Barrett C Brown was an exception: here we saw a seasoned man talking from the heart. Lectures like these address an important vector in our common cause: a desire to learn more and even bring into practice what is thought. As a rule, this is lacking in a seminar’s design process, consequently by and large in it’s unfolding and thus in it’s manifest impact.

It should be noted that in non-manifest domains consequences/impacts are difficult to fathom. On the one hand referring to these domains might serve as an excuse and thus prevent intelligent and courageous ways of relating to matters of sustainability. On the other hand intentions might be the most important dimension of what we think and do. Intentions are hard to fathom, since it’s hard to determine if and to what degree a pudding has been eaten. Perhaps other dimensions are also relevant to various degrees. I’m aware that here, too, my knowledge is strongly limited and would recommend further enquiry as to how this works, for it touches upon what appeals we can reasonably make for courageous action versus, for example, a focus on personal development and consequently with more compassionate action. Motivation for action in the manifest world then evolves from ‘courageous’ to ‘inherent’, which probably will have more sustainable impacts. To the extent actions are performed elegantly, without much ado, onlookers will be more sympathetic toward these actions and more willing and able to bring out their best.

Regarding the heart, the following:

➢ There were many occasions during the course and in between that high intensity interactions took place. To me it would be very interesting to study the critical success factors giving rise to this intensity, as well as the factors that bear relevance to its demise and potential regeneration. In particular when we looked one another in the eye while allowing awareness to emerge that we were looking at ourselves/ our Self/God struck a strong chord with me. I felt strongly connected and clear.

Regarding hands:

➢ The way Irini and Stanley walked us through our activities related to the bodily domain resonated well with me. Using intense bodily practice is to me an excellent inroad to pushing one out of worn out tracks of relating to issues on any topic and to open up to new opportunities.


The seminar definitively is avant garde in making progress in realizing sustainable development. If better follow up were part of this seminar, it would be significantly more manifestly effective. For now I confess to doubt that the seminar realized its full potential in equipping its participants for Integral Leadership for sustainable evolution.

To see videos from the workshop go to:

Emil Möller

Future events of Experience Integral:
* “Integral Gender: Towards a Healthy Expression of Feminine and Masculine Energies” and
“Conscious Leadership for Sustainability” in cooperation with Barrett C. Brown and the School of Synnervation.

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