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Re-Branding Our Species: A Leadership Challenge For All Of Us
February 1st, 2012
The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
– Albert Einstein
As our species finally breaches the carrying capacity of the planet we call home, we come face to face with that perennial challenge: evolve or die. But now the challenge is both global and immediate. We have explored and exhausted the brand Homo sapiens. It is time to re-brand, to evolve beyond the strategically wise, the rationally refined, the intellectually erudite and the technologically talented. Our patterns of being and becoming now need to align with the brand identity of nature and the cosmos at large – with patterns and processes that continually create conditions conducive to life.
To do this, we first have to abandon our ego-centric conceptions of self. We can no longer look out at the world through the eyes of strident individual self-interest. And above all, we must be ready to repudiate our gladiatorial existence and learn how to be communal beings. To commune with ourselves, with each other, with nature, with past and future possibilities.
This is no mere poetic flight of fancy. It is the survival imperative of our times. Beyond re-branding ourselves in this way, the true challenge lies in leadership for holistic thrivability. And we cannot meet this challenge alone.
Homo sapiens sapiens is a species bound for extinction. This is cause for celebration. The universal human emerging to take its place, Homo sapiens cosmicus, is capable of manifesting both our mundane individuality and our sacred connectivity as part and whole at one and the same time. It is up to us to be this new species, to curate our own emergence through holistic and reverence-rich relationships – with all that manifests the patterns of being and becoming that continually create, nourish and evolve life.
The re-branding of species identity is a serious business. Remember Daniel Goleman’s work on Emotional Intelligence that came out in 1995? That was one way of moving beyond the rational mind, the conceptual frame of things, and getting more sense-able. He followed that up with the notion of Social Intelligence, and then with Ecological Intelligence. More recently, Dana Zohar has worked with the notion of Spiritual Intelligence, and of course, Howard Gardner has his classical model of multiple intelligences dating from 1983, including Naturalistic Intelligence (nature smarts), Musical Intelligence (Musical Smarts), Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (number/reasoning smarts), Existential Intelligence, Interpersonal Intelligence (people smarts), Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (body Smarts), Linguistic Intelligence (word smarts), Intra-personal Intelligence (self smarts), and Spatial Intelligence (picture smarts). In each case, we’re looking at different ways of knowing — essentially, each type of intelligence providing different access to consciousness. The problem is that they’re all separate. You can use one or the other, and even if you have “mastered” them all, at best you would switch from one to another in order to interpret and understand a given situation or phenomenon from various angles. It’s like multi-disciplinarity in the academic world. What we need is transdisciplinarity. In this case, trans-intelligence: the capacity to engage a higher consciousness that synergizes these various forms of intelligence in one holistic engagement with experience.
To do this take time… and practice. Above all, practice. Whatever your practice, the challenge is to bring it into relational relevance, such that your brand identity is coherent and consistent at four key levels: the mundane level of transactional engagement; the symbolic level of identity and image; the mythical level of ideal and higher purpose; and the energetic level of affection, connection and community. In a recent article on “The Practices of Systemic Sustainability” in Rethinking Complexity (Fall 2011), I explored the ways in which each of these levels can be engaged personally or internally, socially or inter-personally, ecosystemically or transpersonally, and evolutionarily or integrally. This is perhaps the biggest re-branding challenge anyone can face – to evolve a new species identity. The bad news is no one can do this all by themselves. Fortunately, that’s also the good news.