Integral What?

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Changing the Game

You’re probably familiar with that definition of crazy; doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. It’s amazing how many of us know this, and yet find ourselves doing just that. This intersects nicely with a quote from Albert Einstein: “we cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

So if we feel scattered and compartmentalized, why would we try scattered, compartmentalized solutions? If we want to feel more grounded and centered, why wouldn’t we look for a grounded, centering solution?


Let’s look at a very common issue: the elusive work/life balance. In this context, balance is a myth. To achieve balance, we need both sides of the scale to be static, and that’s not realistic. The closest thing we can do will be constant micro-adjustments, as each side of the scale shifts from day to day or moment to moment. So the peaceful state of balance we seek will actually be ever-changing, ever-shifting constant micro-adjustments. That’s not peaceful. It is trying to solve the problem using the same thinking that created it, and doing this over and over hoping for different results? Well we already named that.

So what if we threw out the concept of work/life balance, and stopped trying to create stasis in a dynamic world? What else might work? What if instead of putting work and life on opposite sides of a scale, we integrated them as a singular, functioning process? We wouldn’t have to constantly take from one to give to the other. We could integrate our work into our life, and our life into our work, so they both feed and replenish one another, and us.

We could interact in both places more authentically from within, rather than constantly trying to figure out what everyone else wants, and jumping through hoops getting exhausted. It’s a hit or miss process at best, and the people we’re interacting with aren’t static either, so it becomes a lifelong game of “Whack-A-Mole,” trying to figure out who to be and how to act. The grounded, centered approach is to be who you are from within, and give work and your life consistently the best version of you possible. The best version of you possible. Wouldn’t that work in virtually any situation?

Practical Integral Application

This is where a truly Integral approach excels. For anyone not familiar with Ken Wilber or Integral Theory, he created a simplified map of the regions in which we develop and live using a matrix of quadrants, which include: interior and exterior-individual, and interior and exterior-collective. Here’s a super simplified description.

AQAL chartInterior-individual contains your intentional self; your feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and all the internal aspects of mind that make you who you are. Exterior-individual includes your behaviors and everything others see on your outside. I include and even emphasize your physiology, as it has an enormous impact on the other quadrants. Interior-collective can be described by “we.” That can be relationship, family, culture, and so on. Exterior-Collective includes the “it” aspects of humanity, from systems to governments, to humanity as a whole. Our lives involve each quadrant, and we develop and grow in each as well.

Integral Coaching works with the Whole You, leaving nothing behind, and not splintering pieces of your life off in different directions. By integrating every aspect of you, there’s only one you at the center or hub of your activities, rather than running from thing to thing, madly trying not to drop anything or be the wrong version in the wrong place at the wrong time. The latter is a recipe for anxiety, frustration, stress, and burnout.

This dovetails with my previous post and podcast about the fragileness of focusing on the external so exclusively. Without the strength and substance of our internal selves built on solid Values, we become non-entities; hollow shells, flitting about trying to figure out who to be and how to act.

The same goes for the Interior Collective quadrant. When an organization doesn’t start with a solid foundation of Values, it has no true identity and ends up flitting about the market trying to figure out who to be and how to act. This is why Integral Coaching focuses on all of these areas simultaneously. They all support and reinforce one another, creating stronger individuals, relationships, and organizations.

It’s hard to admit that our biggest obstacle is us. All the things flying around our heads like snowflakes in a snow globe are going to be there. Stuff happens. We’re the biggest variable; how we interpret and deal with things is the only thing we really have control over, and it’s not carved in stone.

Several species shed their skins or shells when they prevent growth. On the outside, we do this with clothing. Why don’t we shed the beliefs and filters that limit our emotional and intellectual growth? Probably because most of us don’t realize that we can. We can throw off the limitations of our current thinking and re-address life from a new perspective from within.


When we know who we truly are from the inside out, regardless of external pressures from marketing, media, family or peers, we become stable, confident, grounded, and centered. We go from emotional tumbleweed to redwood tree.

redwoodsFrom this perspective, we know what we want to be doing, or at the very least, how we function. We can be grounded and centered while confidently, comfortably handling whatever is orbiting our core. We can create work environments and projects that support our Values, so we don’t feel compelled to leave our Lives to go to work. We can do work that doesn’t create a conflict with who we are, which compels us to leave work to go have lives. When an organization is founded on its Values, the “what” and the “how” of the doing becomes straightforward and obvious. This promotes stable, sustainable profitability, instead of volatility.

In the “we” world, both personal and professional relationships are enhanced. There’s no running back and forth between personal and professional, between internal and external, between one version of yourself you think will work in one situation, and another. You can relax, breathe, and be authentic, which is always respected and appreciated more than an anxious chameleon.

Bottom line, Integral Coaching can help you to embrace what makes you you, rather than apologizing for it, and use your individual talents, feelings, and thoughts for the betterment of all. When you understand something and how it works, you feel confident about it. It’s the same with your self. Your confidence skyrockets, as you embody the integrity of your congruence. When your feelings, thoughts, words, and actions are on the same page, pulling the same direction, there’s no stopping you. This is what Integral Coaching brings you.

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