Coda: Change is on My Mind

Coda / January 2012


Do you think you can just take over the universe and improve it?
I do not believe it can be done
The Universe is sacred
You cannot improve it
If you try to change it, you will ruin it.
If you try to hold it, you will lose it.
So sometimes things are ahead and sometimes things are behind;
Sometimes breathing is hard, sometimes it comes easily;
Sometimes there is strength and sometimes weakness;
Sometimes one is up and sometimes down.
Therefore the sage avoids extremes, excesses, and complacency.

                                                                                   –      Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, 29

When I reviewed this quote from Lao Tsu, I must confess that I was multitasking (not a good productivity practice). I was listening to Ichak Adizes’ opening lecture for a twelve week series – Here is a paraphrase: The role of management is to solve problems when things change. When there is change there is a need for management, even if you call it something else, like leadership. Even the term leadership will go out of style like administration, etc. No matter what we call it those in positions of authority analyze the problem,,,decide what to do. This is the challenge we all face, including those in formal leader roles in organizations. And it isn’t easy, says Adizes – he offers reflection on decisions like quitting smoking as an example. Making decisions is a science and an art. You can’t rely on luck. Or they are intuitive – and it is good to articulate how that works. Adizes’ goal is to take ordinary people and make them effective decision makers.

Well, I don’t need to lay out Adizes’ approach for you. You can read about it or go to the url above. Or go to Rather, I am struck by the contrast in perspectives offered by these two sources: Lao Tsu and Adizes. East and West. One thing they both agree on: it ain’t easy!

Isn’t that representative of a foundation of how integral has been developing with Ken Wilber and many others – bridging East and West? It is about integral – why the California Institute does Integral Studies. So how do we look at the following two propositions integrally?

  1. Don’t mess with the universe.
  2. Manage the universe.

How do holons, quadrants, lines, levels, etc. help us sort this out? That is our challenge. And a real one it is. It is a both/and integrative challenge. Is there a way to transcend and include both? Hard to see how, unless we add some elements into the equation, like time, human capacities, ecology and probably a bunch of other stuff. Maybe we need to restate the propositions:

  1. Change is an aspect of the universe and we need to be present with it while managing our own intentions, behaviors and relationships with others.
  2. We have a responsibility to ourselves and others to appreciate how we can engage with change in a way that aligns us with the universe.

Let’s take a real example. We are trying to build a company that facilitates integrally-informed and integrally-contributing authors (books – print and digital – articles – ILR and more – presentations and conversations – to take place and  be available to as many people as possible. This is in order to support the evolution of integral, developmental, transdisciplinary approaches in such a way as to promote that alignment. Sounds pretty lofty and ambitious, no? Well, perhaps it is. And it is also important to working with the universe as change evolves.

As an organization we are working to find how different individuals and energies fit together and support each other. We are looking for ways to make these messages available to a wider and wider audience without economic barriers – all over the world! And we must align with the universe (and all you folks in it) to find a business model that allows us to sustain these efforts. Currently, we are a bunch of part time seasoned individuals who are working to achieve levels of income that will allow our families, our communities, and us, to thrive. Some of us do that far better than others. But we all need to be able to do it, if this is to work.

And there are so many people who contribute to these efforts who are working toward similar goals as ours. They need to be supported financially so that they can be supported in continuing to create the contributions to the world and to this company. Even financially.

That is what we are working toward. That is why in 2011 and even with this issue of Integral Leadership Review you see us experimenting and trying new things. That is one of the reason why we did the Integral Leadership Collaborative Conference with Integral Leadership in Action, an organization whose live conferences we want to support, for we have a high level of alignment of vision and mission with them.

So, expect to see more changes down the road. We will do our very best to support change that is aligned with the universe. You can help by giving to Friends of the Integral Leadership Review, by writing for our publications and by just reading or participating in some of what we are putting out there. You can help us align with the universe by being apart of this effort.

And the effort is important. I recommend to you Paddy Ashdown’s presentation in Brussels, This is a period of transformation. It is a period that will lead to both generative and destructive changes. It is  period of globalization, the governance of which is better understood by global corporations than by national governments. It is a period that will require the best of all of us.

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