Shift Happens

Early in our partnership, Steve Geske worked on the big question, “Who are we?”

The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level

of thinking that created them.  -Albert Einstein

“So, Geske, what do you want to be when you grow up?” These were the words of a guidance counselor some 30+ years ago when I was about to finish college. He peered through his glasses holding a stack of papers – the results of a battery of psychological tests that were mandatory for every graduate.

“I want to be a hermit,” I said.

“With your personality,” he said, “you might just pull it off!”

It’s true. I am a self-confessed introvert. I have a good excuse to stay away from crowds.

These days, I have another good excuse to stay away from meeting new people. I was reminded of it on Labor Day when I accepted a very gracious invitation by a very gracious couple to join the rest of the neighborhood for an evening of visiting and fresh apple pie. I was standing off in a corner by myself, happily eating my pie, when I was cornered by a guy my age who came over and introduced himself. We were making the typical small talk, the weather, the crops, the mosquitoes, when the dreaded moment finally came – “So what do you do?”

These days, I confess, I get a little paralyzed when confronted with such a question. It usually involves me mentioning HealingLeaders, to which  the other person usually responds with a very puzzled look and something like, “What-Leaders?”

I then find myself trying to explain the word “healing” and what it means in the context of leadership consulting. I admit, I have never been able to describe it to a stranger to my satisfaction or theirs. I decided there was something very wrong with not being able to adequately describe one’s work at a Labor Day picnic. So let me take a whack at it here!

Modern science has much to say about the nature of healing. Cellular biologist, researcher and author, Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., has discovered that the nucleus of a living cell is not the “brain” that determines its function. . Contrary to what we have been led to believe, the nucleus is only a repository, a kind of library of information and instructions. The presence of genes is not the same as the expression of genes. According to Dr. Lipton, the real brain of the cell is the cell membrane. As it turns out, the cell wall has a sophisticated structure that is able to perceive its environment and send messages to the genes to turn on or off accordingly.

Lipton observes that any cell at any given time is operating in one of only two possible modes. One mode can be described as fear or “danger mode.” In this mode the cell membrane sends instructions to the genes that stop growth and certain life-sustaining processes and activate stress-based survival processes in the cell. The second mode can be described as “learning/adventure/growth mode.” When the cell membrane perceives the situation of safety, it turns on genes which activate processes that support life, growth and cellular regeneration. The fear-based mode leads cells toward disease. The learning/adventure-mode leads cells toward health. The real force of Lipton’s research is that he has shown that cell membranes respond to our thoughts, beliefs and perceptions of the world. Our thoughts literally have the power to shift our cellular processes from one mode to the other and back again.

What does this have to do with HealingLeaders? It seems to me that this discovery is not a bad definition of healing. If there are only two modes, fear-mode and learning/adventure-mode, then healing must be the shift from fear-mode to learning-mode. What brings about this shift in cellular functioning? A shift in thinking or consciousness. This shift is not analog, it is digital. And perhaps the greatest, most important skill we will ever learn in life is to facilitate this shift in consciousness.

This gets very close to an ancient view of healing. The first “healing leaders” were those we call shamans. The secret to their healing was their ability to call upon healing spirits to bring about a shift in consciousness that would activate the healing processes in the body, mind and life of the person they were asked to help. The ancient shamans were masters of shifting consciousness – so much so that they were often called “shape-shifters.”

When I look at the mission of HealingLeaders, “supporting enlightened leaders in critical times,” it occurs to me that this is EXACTLY what Howard and I do. Through our newsletters, through our daily encounters, through working with our members, we seek to facilitate a shift in consciousness that allows leaders to be healthy and effective in their role as leaders. We are not problem-solvers. We are not technique-teachers. We are not corporate coaches or success gurus. We are shape-shifters inviting others to shift their consciousness from being stuck in stress and fear to being rooted in learning and adventure. THAT is healing leadership! When this shift happens, a wonderful thing happens; health becomes contagious. Leaders start “infecting” others with health. And it spreads to groups and organizations.

So the next time I am at a party or a picnic, and someone asks me that dreaded question, “What is it you do?” I will have an answer. “I am a shape-shifter, inviting the shift in consciousness from fear to adventure in the lives of leaders!”

God, I can’t wait until next Labor Day, when I go out once again to mingle with a crowd!

Peace and courage,

Steve Geske


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