Extended Biography – Part 3

Independent Consultant

1988 to 2003

The year 1988 was the 20th anniversary of my career in training and organization development. It was also the beginning of my period of time working as an independent consultant. Throughout these twenty years the common thread in everything I did was experiential learning.

My very first job taught me about experiential learning and it became the core process in all the workshops I designed and led. There was a limitation to this approach to learning that I did not see for a long time: experiential learning focuses on outer behavior. We worked with public behavior that everyone could see and hear. How others react to this behavior determines whether the behavior is effective or not.

The power of experiential learning is to focus on discrepancies between how you expect other people will react and how they actually do react to you. Experiential learning zeroes in on this gap to discover if the behavior or not.

I had come to realize that experiential training has some limitations. In some of our training programs, I had observed people who really wanted to change some specific behavior but were unable to do so. They knew the old behavior they wanted to remove. They knew the new behavior they wanted to replace it with. Mentally they were ready to make the change. And yet, they could not pull it off.

It had now become apparent to me that more had to be done in experiential learning than just working with the mind and outer observations. Our behavior is rooted in personal beliefs about oneself and one’s world. Our outer behaviors will not change until there is a fundamental shift in the beliefs which anchor those behaviors. My own experience with conflict taught me this to be true.

I became convinced that we had to develop greater understanding of how the inner world works. We needed a way to help participants identify inner beliefs and emotions that enhance or limit our outer behavior.

The key to change, I came to realize, is to understand better the nature of our own consciousness. I was not sure how well the business community would take to programs about consciousness, so I chose a word that I thought might be more suitable: I talked about mindsets and how these get reflected in our job performance.

I developed a training program called MindSet Mastery. This program helped people identify 4 different universal MindSets. It enabled participants to experience directly how each of the 4 MindSet effects their work on the job.

I came up with a conceptual model that illustrates the relationship between an individual’s mindset and the group mindset of the people around them. This model helps demonstrate the relationship between our individual consciousness and the organization’s cultural climate—which is actually the collective consciousness of the group.

My MindSet Mastery training gave people the ability to:

  1. recognize 4 universal mindsets,
  2. recognize how each mindset impacts their job performance and
  3. learn how to change from one mindset to another.

This workshop showed the extent to which, when groups managed the group mindset, they can create dynamic and productive work climates. I worked with work groups, project teams and even whole divisions to realize how much power they had to bring about positive organization change.

My clients were intact work groups. project teams, departments and divisions. One client was the president of a 300-person company. He wanted his whole company to go through the training program. All regular employees attended a one-day session of MindSet Mastery. The first groups were unhappy about having to attend this required training. This soon shifted as word about the program got out; later groups arrived much more enthusiastic about taking the training.

Next, the top executives went through a 3-hour overview session. They were interest to learn about how the employees responded to the training. The culmination was a 2-day workshop for middle managers that featured a simulation of a manufacturing environment. This revealed a conflict that was sabotaging the company’s overall performance.

The overall impact of all these programs was an organization environment that was primed to take on major change. The President planned to lead that himself.

One day I got a call from a young man who was a Phd. candidate at the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology in Menlo Park. He said that, as part of his program, he was required to do an internship in his field of interest. His interest was Transpersonal Psychology in the business world.

He had inquired around to find an unpaid internship in some company and he had been told there was only one person in the Bay Area who is doing what he was interested in. That person was me. He asked if he could come over to my office and explore a possible internship with me. I told him I did not know what he might do but I was willing to talk about it.

I was curious to learn who had given him my name. I was surprised that none of the people he mentioned were familiar to me. Apparently, awareness of my work with MindSet Mastery was getting around the Bay Area.

I agreed to take him on as an intern. He would go through my workshop and then he would conduct interviews with past participants to evaluate the long-term benefit of the training. His final report back to me confirmed the lasting benefits of the training.

Despite my growing recognition locally, I was never able to get my conference proposals accepted by the national Organization Development Network. Every year would be the same: the OD Network office would send out a request for proposal emphasizing their desire for truly new and different ideas! Every year I would send them reams of information about what I was doing and the results I was getting. Every year I was rejected. And when I looked at the programs that were eventually offered at the convention, they all looked just like presentations that I had heard in the past.

I felt sad. Not for me. My work was growing and I was enjoying myself. But I recognized what was happening with my profession. Orthodoxy had set in. I was there in the early years when the Bay Area chapter of the ODN was getting started. There were so few of us that we met in each our living rooms. And it was wide open. Nothing was considered out of the bounds. Back then there were no boundaries.

Now OD had boundaries. The only change we could focus on was behavior change. It was about how people behave in organizations. This is public information. We can see these behaviors with our own eyes and hear them with our own ears. But consciousness is internal. It is private unless we choose to make it public. And apparently the OD Network had decided that our internal world was off-limits for OD work.

My training program was on the verge of taking off. But there was now tension between my professional work and my personal journey. If my training programs caught on—as appeared to be the case— the demands on my time would give me little time for my personal journey. Yet I had concrete data to support my thesis that all behavior stems from with and that personal change begins on the inside.

In 2003 I came to a fork in the road. The high-tech recession was hitting Silicon Valley hard. Half of all jobs in high tech disappeared. Work for my kind of consulting dried up like water in a desert. My professional network was gone. People were leaving in droves.

Elizabeth and I were at a crossroads. Elizabeth was working as a marriage, family and child therapist at a medical center. We could live off her salary. But her long hours of work were weighing on her. She wanted out.

We could retire, but that would mean selling our home in Menlo Park and leaving the Bay Area after 32 years of living there.

By 2004 we were living on a 20-acre ranch in central Oregon and growing hay. My professional journey had ended. MindSet Mastery was a thing of the past.

But my spiritual journey was about to go deeper.

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