(adapted from “Stewards for Evolution,” the lead article in the September issue of The Transfomer, the monthly e-newsletter of The Center for Transformational Presence, which will be published on September 1st)

The facts: Environmental experts tell us that we are currently living at 140% of the earth’s capacity for sustainability, and that if we remain on our current trajectory, that percentage will continue to rise rapidly. Our current drive for economic growth is using up the earth’s natural resources at a much faster rate than they can be replenished. Some thought leaders even say that economic growth is about to stop, because the earth can no longer support our current practices. In fact, some go so far as to say that society is now living in service of the economy rather than the economy being there to serve the people and a greater good. Somewhere, things got messed up. We’ve got to start doing things differently.

Now I’m not an economist or an environmentalist, nor do I pretend to have expertise in those areas. However, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that before our actions can change, how we think has to change. Some fundamental paradigms and expectations that are deeply rooted in the mass consciousness will have to shift before we will actually start to make different choices and create sustainable plans of action.

It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that at least one of the major root causes of todays’ challenges and crises is our collective striving for “more”—more profits, control over more resources, greater competitive edge, higher incomes, bigger houses, more conveniences, the newest toys, and on it goes. In the collective consciousness of the world’s major economic powers, the concept of “enough” is not a part of the conversation.

This may not be a new thought for you; it wasn’t for me. However, what is new is a realization that I haven’t been connecting all of the dots. I haven’t been giving enough attention to the fact that “fixing” our economy in the old paradigm way—maintaining material growth and expansion—means increasingly taxing our planet far beyond its capacity. It is becoming increasingly clear that our current structures and models for economic growth are not sustainable. As those structures crumble, it becomes more apparent that there is nothing left to fix. At some point in the not-so-distant future we will be forced to take a new approach. That new approach must include new definitions for success and well-being, as well as new ways of thinking about growth.

So where do we begin? How do we shift the mass consciousness? What fundamental shift must happen in how we think?

There are two fundamental orientations from which we approach life and leadership: vertical and horizontal. Simply put, the vertical orientation represents a “being” approach to life—soul, intuitive thinking, inspiration, creativity, innovation, connection to the greater Consciousness and the infinite—while the horizontal approach represents the “doing” aspect—ego, intellectual thinking, relationship to the material and finite world, strategy, implementation and action. (You can learn much more about this in Chapter 4 of my new book, Create A World That Works.)

As a culture, we tend to think of these two orientations as being mutually exclusive—you either come from one or the other. Our current mass consciousness is firmly rooted in the horizontal approach. Therefore, so are our current paradigms for success. As a collective, our energy and attention are primarily focused on achieving the material growth and expansion that we think will provide us with increasing levels of material comfort, convenience, safety, security, and well-being. And because we continue to strive for “more” in the horizontal without engaging in the connectedness and higher awareness available through the vertical, we continue to push our planet beyond the breaking point. The horizontal realm is a finite world. There is a physical limit to how far we can go.

I believe that shifting the mass consciousness begins with entering the realm of the vertical. The greater our alignment and connection in the vertical, the greater success we will have in reaching our potential in the horizontal. In other words, the more we are clear about who we are, and live our lives in alignment with that understanding, the more we will accomplish. The more we are intuitively tuned into “what wants to happen” for the greater good of all, follow that potential, and steward it into reality, the greater success we will have in creating the life and world that we feel called to create. Expanded awareness and alignment in the vertical will inspire and inform new choices, decisions, and actions in the horizontal that are based on a whole-picture view. And then we begin to live in the vertical and horizontal at the same time.

So I invite us into a new paradigm. What if we shifted our idea of growth from the horizontal to the vertical? What if we looked at our many current crises as opportunities to redefine growth as, first, an expansion of who we are, and second, to an expansion of what we have?  What if our first response to current breakdowns was to reconsider how we show up in the world rather than to argue about how to fix an outdated system? What if we looked at the enormous challenges we now face as opportunities for transformation of our beliefs and greater exploration and development of our intuitive thinking capacities rather than fighting over how to ensure that our power/lifestyle/investment/position is protected and maintained?

I believe that the vertical realm is our next great frontier for economic growth and development. By focusing first on reaching the greatest potential of who we can be, both as individuals and as a society, we will find the inspiration, knowledge, and understanding needed to create new kinds of growth in the horizontal—growth that is in harmony with the earth, that supports health and well being for both the planet and its inhabitants. In fact, I can imagine that by focusing first on the vertical, we will find new inspiration and innovation in energy technology that could actually support the regeneration of the earth.

I can imagine that we will discover that much more is possible when we live and lead from our intuitive mind, which encompasses the intellect, as opposed to operating from intellect alone. This will lead to new discoveries and knowledge far surpassing even the amazing developments of today. Those on the leading edges of business, technology, and society already operate from the intuitive mind. Imagine what could happen if we all made this shift. How might we be attuned to each other and to the potential of the future on a whole new level?

What can you imagine could be possible if we focus in the vertical first and let our discoveries and understandings in the vertical inspire and inform new creations, innovations, choices, and actions in the horizontal?

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