Can Executives and Higher Consciousness Be In The Same Room?

I don’t know if they can.

I want to say yes. But I realize, from working directly with executives, or as a member of leadership teams at distinct altitudes in organizations, I have to say no they can’t. Not on their own.

I’m tired of hearing water-cooler talk about CEOs, executives and bosses being the “smartest people we meet, and the dumbest people we know.”

“How did they get their jobs?”

“They’re intrapsychically challenged.”

These issues may be real. But what do we do about it?

Executives always assume they’re changing the world for the better. But outside their bubble, things are different.

The course of actions they’re taking inside these bubbles is determining the future outside them. In reality, executives, as force multipliers within their bubbles, are creating and using tools to amplify the slithering onset of an economic and political oligarchy.

I’ve been waiting for a massive shift of influences to introduce self-awareness to these executives. It is apparent now that the wait must end, and that the influence must be from us.

For me, these issues land on establishing one necessary new position and point of view, one salient center of gravity and line of sight. They require Executives to develop their mastery of conscious engagement (observing, modifying, and regulating their mental processes); to acknowledge and respect the inner content of their minds; and to express an authentic self.

These inner experiences, or lack thereof, define our relationships with ourselves. They shape our beliefs and emotional reactions to thoughts and situations.

So too, does our constant mind-chatter, going on in our heads — Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda.

This dialogue shapes how we see ourselves, how we respond and behave, and is a product of both our present and accumulated experiences of life. Failing to face them means being unable to change.

Outside of the executive bubble, things are different.

How many of you out here watched Star Trek back in the day?

There was this episode, The Cloud Minders.

Photo by CBS Photo Archive — © 1969 CBS Photo Archive

In this episode, Captain Kirk needed to take a substance called zenite to a planet to stop a vegetation plague there. The source of the zenite, a different planet, had a city named Stratos floating in the clouds where elite city-dwellers lived in luxury while the mindless labor-class worked in dangerous zenite mines on the barren surface below.

Unprocessed zenite emitted an odorless, invisible gas that diminishes mental capacity and heightens emotion. Kirk offers gas masks to Vanna, the rebel leader of the labor-class, in exchange for a supply of zenite he needed.

Knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing, our CEOs along with their architects and cloud minders, are creating Stratos — luxurious metropolises in the clouds, while our labor-class is working below on an increasingly barren surface.

Are the rest of us racing against time to acquire plague-fighting minerals from a world in the midst of a civil uprising against a grievous social class disparity?

And what’s our unprocessed zenite — emitting an odorless, invisible gas, which is diminishing mental capacity and heightening emotions?

We know of two major forms: tribalism, and fear — the major sources of bad information.

Motivated ignorance, in particular, expands freely to fill any amount of space available, when others choose not to educate themselves out of fear.

Unfortunately we see this both inside the executive bubble, and outside of it.

Ikon Images / Getty Images

Knowledge is Power, but Motivated Ignorance is Bliss.

Ignorance is a lack of knowledge, education, or understanding.

From my experiences working directly with executives, or as a member of leadership teams, they have an easier time remembering information that fits their worldviews.

Through executive muscle memory, they recognize information spontaneously that confirms what they already know, but it also makes them blind to facts, knowledge, and experiences that ought to be influencing their center of gravity and line of sight.

Reinforcing the problem, our fundamental need for a shared reality with other people, Jeremy Frimer, adds, often overshadows incentives to weigh the evidence or to be objective when it comes to political discussions.

Motivated ignorance, in its most straightforward calculus, for CEOs, their architects, and cloud minders surfaces when they don’t want to know the facts… or avoid mokita (the truths we all know about, but don’t want to talk about).

Avoiding facts inconvenient to executives’ worldviews isn’t some passive, unconscious habit for them.

As a result, these CEOs, their architects, and cloud minders are voluntarily stricken with an inability to understand our perspective.

We’re all participating out here on the web.

What’s your first instinct to do or go to, for solving a problem you don’t know enough to answer?

When in doubt, Google it, insists Becky Kane. Being a Millennial, she can barely remember the Internet before Google made the vast collective knowledge of the web readily accessible for any whim, or query that crossed her mind.

Photo by Sergey Nivens on shutterstock

But this information, she contends, leads us spinning our wheels in a seemingly inescapable purgatory of analysis paralysis, all the while getting us nowhere on our essential projects.

How many of us, like with Kane’s experience of her simple search queries, often open time-sucking black holes of link clicking that ends hours later with us more confused than ever as to what the right action is?

Rather than empowering us to make better choices, she argues, this virtually unlimited access to information often leads us to greater fear of making the wrong decision.

That kind of Fear is just part of the problem.

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Mostafa M. El-Bermawy, in his Wired post, Your Filter Bubble Is Destroying Democracy, insists the global village that was once the internet is now becoming digital islands of isolation that are drifting further apart each day.

“The internet that elected Barack Obama in 2008, and was used during Arab spring in 2011 is different from the internet that led to Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.”

As our experience online grows increasingly personalized, he says, our Facebook feeds including our Google searches, are the internet’s islands, which keep getting more segregated, and soundproofed.

Kate Bulkley writes about our need to belong in her post, Know your customer: digital tribes.

Members of digital tribes, she explains, are defined by who they hang out with on the web, or through their mobile devices: it’s about what interests a person has, and what networks they communicate inside.

As long as people can curate what they see, and create their own content, there will be a small voice inside motivating us to stick with what we already know. We do this out of love for our in-groups, but also out of fear of the out-groups.

Being part of motivated ignorance, fear is an essential perspective out here in the discussions going on about the fake news or filter bubble problem in online media ecosystems.

Along with our need for a shared reality, it is also a source contributing to making our head and heart hurt — dysfunction in mental capacity and empathy — inability to understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.

I like Dan Kahan’s view and bandwidth of insights on this landscape. We have a lot of pressure to live up to our groups’ expectations. The smarter we are, he says, the more we put our brain power to use to that end.

Motivated ignorance is understandable, but there’s a price to pay for indulging it.

We all do it, he says, because we find points of fact to be genuinely unpleasant. As long as this experience remains uncomfortable and easy to avoid, Brian Resnick argues, we’re going to drift further and further apart.

As demonstrated in partisan politics, this need for a shared reality leaves Resnick pessimistic that Facebook or other social networking platforms out here, with people filtering in their content bubbles, can solve that or other problems

I share his pessimism.

But we not only do it to ourselves. It is also done to us. It’s a dark truth, an element embedded in the atmospherics and optics of my question and concerns about whether executives and higher consciousness can be in the same room.

Are CEOs, their architects, and cloud minders becoming merchants of doubt? If so, why?

I’m hesitant to ask this next question. I don’t want you all out here to think I’m trading in fearmongering.

It’s a pivotal one in which are embedded atmospherics and optics pertinent again to whether executives and higher conscious can be in the same room.

The scenario: a group with deep connections in politics and industry, who are running active campaigns to mislead us and deny well-established knowledge.

There can be no science without doubt, argues Peter Galison, Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University. However, brute dogma, he contends, leaves no room for inquiry.

Are CEOs, their architects, and cloud minders wielding doubt, as a political weapon, to halt what they do not want to be said? How does this work?

Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway argue that a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisors have efficiently run campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades.

They are some of the same figures claiming that the science of global warming is “not settled” and rejected the truth of studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole.

“Doubt is our product” read a tobacco memo — an indeed, as Galison argues, “millions of dollars went into creating the impression of scientific controversy where there has not been one.”

Oreskes and Conway, with the carefulness of historians and the skills of master storytellers, Stephen H. Schneider, Professor, Stanford University, argues, lay out the sordid history of tobacco industry protectionists.

These figures, he contends, framed the debate as scientifically ‘unproven,’ thereby gaining decades of market share for these merchants of death — who knew all along the risks of their products.

Journalists and bloggers don’t get a pass, either. Oreskes and Conway emphasize how these figures uncritically repeated these charges.

These patterns and their scheme of reciprocity, are an art form. This schema enables us to create our new worlds through mental and behavioral force, and not be found out.

This schema gives us the ability to convince ourselves, and others, to believe almost anything, through our mix of charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing prowess, appeasement or persistence. Choices we make in this art form, normalizing the abnormal (which remains abnormal!), are often hidden.

As a result, we become separated from information that disagrees with our viewpoints, efficiently isolating us in our cultural or ideological bubbles from one another and disrupting our search for continuity in a world of discontinuity.

This art form and its schema are the source of group-think — a process by which one or more dominant members convinces the group to withhold their views in favor of the one supported by the dominant member. We see groupthink expanding freely to fill any available space, irrespective of quantity.

Our world is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. It’s going to become even more so.

Psychological mindedness, critical thinking, and intervention become the antidote (hangover remedies) for that art form, its schema, and group-think, including priming stakeholders for achieving agility and adaptability in Our Global Village.

CEOs, their architects, and cloud minders are assuming positions of increasing complexity and scope throughout Our Global Village.

We have their illusion of control (normalizing the abnormal).

But the workplace is framing into blurred boundaries, an overload of work (searching for ways AI can take it over), hyper-complexity, and technology addiction.

We use the wrong calculus in this one — believing we feel or think a certain way habitually because of our circumstances (external locus of control). Instead, it is our thought power (internal locus of control) that is creating these conditions and events, wanted or unwanted.

Multiple worldviews, mental models, mindscapes, and cultural differences exist amongst all of us as do creative ways to bridge them.

Once we can authentically internalize this bandwidth of insights — our thoughts create reality — we grant ourselves the power to create the changes we want to see manifest in our lives.

Reality creation is an inside job for breaking free of normalizing the abnormal.

What must CEOs, their architects, and cloud minders do to transcend the barrier to higher consciousness?

It’s the million dollar question — how to elicit information, and draw out the atmospherics and the optics, indispensable to introduce a massive shift to self-awareness in executives, who always assume they’re changing the world for the better, while outside their bubbles, things are different.

What makes this so difficult?

Higher consciousness is the least understood and accessed aspect of mindfulness.


Everything we perceive in our physical world has its origin in the invisible and inner world of our thoughts and beliefs.

Our higher consciousness knows, as Einstein argues, that the physical (outside) world we experience as reality “is an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

In each of us, our higher consciousness knows that our conditions wanted or unwanted is a reflection of our inner world, which is itself a product of our thoughts.

How many of us out here authentically realize that every effect we see (importantly — Are you observing?) in our physical world has a specific cause, which has its origin in our inner world? The conditions, facts, and events that follow in our lives, reciprocally, are the result of our collective thoughts and beliefs.

We’ve got to learn how to overcome the nature of our dominant and habitual external facing and internal facing thoughts. Then we can attract into our lives, what we intend to have and experience, as we know too, trust — our thoughts create reality.

Thought power and thought leaders are playing a critical role in either interfering with or aiding in our affairs of discovering the keys to creating ours.

The problems cannot be solved until they are acknowledged.

That optic is the center of gravity and line of sight of authentic thought power.

How can executives out here recognize the higher consciousness that they have?

Higher consciousness doesn’t present the same to everyone.

There is no be-all or end-all universal differential calculus or other stringent dualism (discriminant perception; categorical critical thinking) for discovering or mastering it.

Photo by icu8124me on

It’s a kaleidoscope — a uniquely personal one — containing mirrors and pieces of colored glass, whose reflections produce changing patterns when it is rotated, an endless, complex mix of elements and colors.

It is for this reason that higher consciousness becomes a wicked problem worth solving.

Wicked problems, such as higher consciousness, are challenging to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing aspects that are often difficult to recognize as requirements.

The goal is to develop a deeper understanding of the nature of reality, ourselves, and various spiritual aspects of life that play an essential role in our evolution and psychological development.

The complexity means that the “solution” has no determinable stopping point.

Start with direct observation and assessment of climate and culture, environments and ecosystems.

As an aside, it’s essential for me to underscore that because of hard interdependencies, using conventional thought (I Am Right You Are Wrong) with its rigid insistence on facts, typically opens or creates other issues efforts to frame the problem set.

I do not equate Tony Robbins, and others cut from his cloth, as excellent service providers for guiding us in our journey, for discovering or achieving mastery of higher consciousness.

They’re excellent examples of pop psychology, proselytizing “through psychobabble” their interests and economics — sustainable brand communities with growing and incentivized brand advocates, revenue streams, marketing including sales and digital content marketing and click bait.

They’re not part of the solution; they’re part of the problem.

What are the skills leaders need now and will require going into the future?

For whatever reasons, trendy, fashionable headlines, including aspiring thought leaders or even established experts claim that leaders often use their inner content to evaluate their experiences and feelings to help them determine how they will act, and that this accounts for their creation of value and success.

I must respectfully counter.

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

Inner content is a hidden compass that can shift the direction of leadership behavior. It can and does influence how leaders like CEOs, their architects, and cloud minders take in information, ultimately influencing decisions and actions.

Survey the atmospherics and optics of the landscape authentically. Just look around and take stock of what is emerging in our climates and cultures, our environments and ecosystems, throughout Our Global Village and our world.

Our CEOs, their architects, and cloud minders continue to be force multipliers, while their size is growing even larger going forward within their bubbles, amplifying the slithering onset of an economic and political oligarchy floating above an increasingly barren surface.

It should give you pause, especially when you consider what it is they’re enabling and ultimately its impact on what they’re leaving for your children, as their dowry or inheritance.

The operative question here is whether they’re not only listening but doing so authentically.

As a leader, are you not around, too, the water-cooler talks? Or listening to mokita, when given the opportunity to do so?

Conscious engagement allows executives to choose more than they are doing now, with mindful responses to stressful situations.

Conscious engagement is a solution without an endpoint. Conscious engagement is a lifestyle, not a crash diet.

How do we find executives out here, to whom higher consciousness appeals?

CEOs, their architects, and cloud minders see what they want to see, hear what they want to hear, and speak what they want to hear. But being able to identify oncoming risks: blind spots; mokita, and anomalies including what is authentically causing them — make or break your organization.

As others are reporting, demographic tipping points are already here.

Evan Sinar and Rebecca Ray stress baby boomers continue to exit the workplace, while Generation X is too few to fill all open positions. Millennials, they add, are assuming significant leadership positions often at a pace faster than they and the organizations they serve would otherwise embrace.

Senior leaders are recognizing, and as Sinar and Ray contend, proactively looking for, a response to millennials’ growing influence and impact.

How do you know you have one of these leaders in your climate and cultures, environments and ecosystems, in your reality and organization where you are working for your paycheck?

Here’s a quick check-list on some of the calculus to use.

Positive signs:

Open to talking the walk, and walking the talk — Breaking free of normalizing the abnormal.

Uncovering hidden choices — often that are hidden, including working-through shadowy symptoms.

Not doing failure of nerve or learned helplessness.

Rating Mindshare more critically than Market Share — Do executives authentically get this? If so, it should be evident to all decision makers, influencers and stakeholders in the culture and climate of environments and ecosystems of the executives’ leadership.

Negative signs:

Simplifying their worldview to fit the structure of their prior notions? — Disregarding evidence that contradicts their expectation.

Trading labor (body shopping) for money. Buying talent rather than developing it, as the Be All End All

Managing for economic decline — Feeding anal-retentive expectations and evaluation of critical business issues (CBIs), Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and TSR (total return of stock to an investor, or capital gains plus dividends), to Directors and other execs.

We likewise need to question our uncritical worship of CEOs, their architects, and their cloud minders, as Laurel Carney argues on legends and heroes that no longer serve us — they’re only as good or useful as the actions they inspire.

Leave it to Yoda, she says, to sum up this whole abominable wall of text in a single, perfect sentiment: “We are what we grow. That is the burden of all masters.”

What is the The Bottom Line?

Jurassic World Sequel First Look. ™©Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment, Inc.

Corporate, Public, and Social Sectors are full of organizations who are not adapting or surviving in their operating environments and ecosystems — instead, becoming theme park dinosaurs in their industry.

Blind spots and preconscious problems are complicating organizational functioning, and polarizing climate and culture, leading to a cover your ass (CYA) mentality and the kind of anxiety that leads to Trust Your Neighbor but Brand Your Stock.

Throwing more money at that schema, and trading labor for money or habitually buying talent instead of developing it, is not going to cut it going into the future.

It merely buys you time to push off what you don’t want to deal with now, and lets others receive your dowry or inheritance.

CEOs, your architects, and cloud minders, are you hearing this?

Outside your bubbles, things are different.

We will, all of us, Carney contends, live long enough to fail. How wonderful, how miraculous, she says, to live long enough to watch the sun rise on our failures and see them clearly, unflinchingly, and still somehow find the strength grow beyond them.

When a hero does the wrong thing, she asks, what do they do next?

They learn.


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I wish to thank everyone in my thought communities and communities of practice who helped me complete this post. Without their continued efforts and support, I would not have been able to bring my work to a successful completion.

This post could not be written to its fullest without Malcolm Ryder, Senior Advisor for IWB, who served as editor, including one who challenged and encouraged me throughout my time writing this post. He would have never accepted anything less than my best efforts, and for that, I thank him.