“Contradictions, whether personal or social, that could once remain hidden are coming unstoppably to light. It is getting harder to uphold a divided self….The trend toward transparency that is happening on the systems level is also happening in our personal relationships and within ourselves. Invisible inconsistencies, hiding, pretense, and self-deception show themselves as the light of attention turns inward….The exposure and clearing of hidden contradictions brings us to a higher degree of integrity, and frees up prodigious amounts of energy that had been consumed in the maintenance of illusions. What will our society be capable of, when we are no longer wallowing in pretense?”

~ Charles Eisenstein

A blog post by Harv Bishop (LINK) this week brought up a very significant question about leadership and shadow in New Thought organizations and spiritual communities. The Eisenstein quote above came to mind as I thought about the dynamics of the question – it is ultimately one of integrity.

The topic of the post is about how some practitioners (trained spiritual prayer partners) in Centers for Spiritual Living (CSL) spiritual communities have become alienated due to rigid requirements about financial support to their spiritual community and unfeeling/unskilled leaders essentially failing to see their humanity.

I believe that the issue goes much deeper and has a number of “tentacles” – some organizational and some psychological – which have led to this moment when this issue is being addressed out loud (at least in the blogosphere and on some social media). This is more complex than it might seem at first glance, both for leadership and for followership. Let’s examine a couple here.

One organizational issue is the structure of the Practitioner system in Centers for Spiritual Living. Bishop writes, “These highly trained professionals pray for and help people change their thinking. They can be thought of as the special forces of the New Thought movement. Practitioners serve as prayer volunteers within churches and do not receive a salary from their sponsoring churches. They can charge clients for their services if they start a private spiritual counseling practice. Becoming a practitioner is also a first step to ministerial studies.” To become a licensed practitioner takes about 4 years of study with testing along the way. Once licensed, there are requirements for ongoing education, etc. Practitioners serve “at the pleasure” of the spiritual leader of a spiritual community.

Holmes - Young

Dr. Ernest Holmes

The original idea of Ernest Holmes in the 1920’s was to teach and license practitioners who would go into private practice, generally following the successful model of Christian Science at the time (Holmes studied Christian Science briefly). This was before the idea of churches or spiritual communities had been introduced into Religious Science (Now CSL). The 6-week course at the Institute in Los Angeles resulted in a license to be a Practitioner of Religious Science and do Spiritual Mind Treatment for clients.

Well, so far so good. However, it was soon learned that some of the folks who became licensed were doing all kinds of things under their license which were not at all related to being a Practitioner of Religious Science. No need to go into detail, but the Institute and Dr. Holmes came to see that they could not enforce policies on these independent actors. So, after grappling with a number of alternatives, it was reluctantly decided to start churches with ministers to whom the practitioners would be assigned. The ministers would oversee the practitioners, who were still thought to be professionals who would earn their main living from being a practitioner.

Jump ahead nine decades, and we have thousands of practitioners around the globe, with perhaps a small handful (if any) making a living from their efforts; most practitioners today barely make enough to cover their license renewal fee, if we are to be candid. An increasing number do not charge for their services at all.

The organizational issue is that the practitioner program as it operates today is very different than the Founder’s vision, yet the basic structure and expectations have changed very little since 1930. The only significant change is that the 6 week program has been expanded to at least 4 years. Spiritual leaders feel compelled to perpetuate the idea of the Founder, at least to a degree, and thus find themselves in a very difficult position in terms of setting expectations. So, a major issue involved in Harv’s post is this:

CSL is perpetuating an obsolete model with expectations based on past practices which do not reflect how the modern practitioner functions.

“For us to remain relevant and contemporary we will have to slay some sacred cows.”

~ Edward Viljoen

While organizational and structural issues such as this put leaders and followers at a disadvantage, we are each accountable for our own responses to conditions. If I am approached by my spiritual leader and questioned about my financial giving (assuming there has been an agreement regarding expectations in advance), and I feel shamed because my current conditions include insufficient funds to keep my agreement, then is the spiritual leader the cause of my feelings? Even if the spiritual leader is unskilled at having a compassionate conversation, am I not accountable for my emotional reactions? And if I would respond to such a question with a feeling of shame, does that mean that it never should have been asked? I am wondering about the desirability of having developed a sense of spiritual grit or resilience – is that not something one might expect of a practitioner after all of their study and practice? One quality of good followership is personal accountability, another is emotional intelligence, both are tied to integrity.

This is not to say that the leader(s) have no accountability, of course they do – but it comes down to a very basic issue – am I my own authority? Is it reasonable for others to expect me to meet my obligations or, if I am unable to do so, to reach out and have the necessary conversations with those who are counting on me? If the answer is no, where does that leave us?

“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”

~ Carlos Castaneda

That first “tentacle” is unique to CSL, as is the practitioner program they utilize (although other organizations may have similar issues structurally). The second tentacle is more general and has to do with the underlying psychological factors which affect us all, particularly in relation to how leaders lead and how followers follow.

“A leader is a person who has an unusual degree of power to create the conditions under which other people must live and move and have their being, conditions that can be either as illuminating as heaven or as shadowy as hell. A leader must take special responsibility for what’s going on inside his or her own self, inside his or her consciousness, lest the act of leadership create more harm than good.”

~ Parker Palmer,


No organizational system can fully overcome psychological (mental and emotional) issues. This is why employees and especially leaders are often subjected to psychological screening and developmental training over time. We all bring our unresolved childhood issues with us into the workplace, into our spiritual community, and elsewhere. We then project them onto others, unconsciously seeking healing through the process of mirroring and modeling. When we remain unaware of this process and its dynamics, we generally do not heal; we perpetuate the dysfunctions of ourselves and others within the group. We cannot be in integrity with our true selves because we have created barriers to that very connection,.

“Our unwillingness to see our own faults and the projection of them onto others is the source of most quarrels, and the strongest guarantee that injustice, animosity, and persecution will not easily die out.”

~ C.G. Jung, Depth Psychology and Self-Knowledge

The difference between the workplace and spiritual community is that we should be able to expect the latter to be a place where compassion and healing are prized and available. But as humans insufficiently aware of our own unresolved issues, we are limited in our capacities to express these positive qualities. When someone’s behavior strays too close to one of my shadow (repressed) issues, I will lash out in some fashion – perhaps by invoking my “authority” as spiritual leader or by relying on the most rigid interpretation of rules and policies as a means of protecting myself from being too vulnerable in that moment. And, it is likely that the practitioner, or staff member, or congregant with whom I am engaged will be doing their version of the same thing. The results of such dynamics often include shame, guilt, frustration, anger, etc. But that is not the end – then the blaming has to start, finding a scapegoat (the individual, the organization, the teaching) and having that repetitive inner dialogue about how I have been harmed through no fault of my own, and so on. This may lead to triangulation, gossip, withholding of presence and support, and the like. Sound familiar?

“The effect of projection is to isolate the subject from his environment, since instead of a real relation to it there is now only an illusory one.”

~ C.G. Jung, CW 9ii

“It is much easier to deny, blame others, project elsewhere, or bury it and just keep on rolling.”

~ James Hollis, Jungian analyst

On top of all of this, what it means to be in spiritual leadership has changed since the time of the Founder; indeed, it has changed since this 21st Century began and continues to evolve. Mew Thought spiritual organizations, like most others, have not been sufficiently responsive to these evolutionary processes to substantially uplevel how leaders are trained (much less to have effective and coherent programs to re-train leaders already in the system). We will muddle along, doing our best (which is often enough in the moment, but generally insufficient for the transformational times we are in), making our mistakes and hopefully learning from them. The reality of massive tectonic cultural and whole-system changes – cultural evolution (LINK), climate disruption, political unrest, economic unfairness and uncertainty, massive human resettlement, global health issues – means that we have to develop different ways of leading, new models of ministry, new healing modalities, understanding living systems (LINK), and more. And, we have to be as graceful and compassionate as possible in the face of these challenges and the inner transformations they demand of us.

As I reach this point, I realize that there will have to be a Part 2 to this post – Part 1 describes that it’s raining, so Part 2 will be necessary to try and explain how to build an ark. There may be more after that – it is a rich vein of leadership awareness we are opening. I hope that this adds to the important conversation which Harv Bishop has started.

 “Mistakes are not just opportunities for learning; they are, in an important sense, the only opportunity for learning or making something truly new. Before there can be learning, there must be learners. There are only two non-miraculous ways for learners to come into existence: they must either evolve or be designed and built by learners that evolved. Biological evolution proceeds by a grand, inexorable process of trial and error — and without the errors the trials wouldn’t accomplish anything.”

 ~ Daniel C. Dennett, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking


As always, your comments are welcomed!


Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

My book speaks to this topic – a great gift for your spiritual leader and for yourself!


“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.”

 ~ Pablo Picasso

“Dysfunctional systems will fall under their own weight. Let them.”

~ Bashar

These are dangerous quotes. Dangerous in the sense that they can be interpreted in different ways by people with different perspectives (or even by the same person on different days). Quotes such as these need to be seen from a relatively balanced perspective, meaning that one may believe one way or another, but has an open mind to other possibilities. The Picasso quote I use to suggest that sometimes, what we call “good sense” is only leftover prejudices from the past; of course, sometimes, “good sense” actually is good sense, so we must allow for that possibility. And “dysfunctional systems” are often in the eye of the beholder, so to speak. But it is healthy to note when something’s time has passed so that something new can be encouraged, or at least allowed, to emerge.

The times in which we find ourselves are growing ever more complex at ever faster rates. Old solutions increasingly fail to resolve current challenges; old leadership is increasingly ineffective. It is time to learn new ways of being. What is needed is a whole system change, and spiritual organization is not exempt. We are called to adapt by changing at depth.

“There can be no doubt that we are in a change of eras, as systems crumble around us struggling to hold onto their old ways and new ones seek the patterns and practices that will take us into a future that we can feel emerging but not yet describe in words. We are in what systems thinkers would call a chaos point, a moment where the old systems no longer work but the new are not mature enough to take over the helm. Painful on many fronts.”

~ Peter Merry, Blog Post (LINK)

The old ways of seeing organization are no longer adequate. Our spiritual communities are living systems, with all the complexity that implies. And we do not know what will work in the emerging future – there are no examples for us to follow; we are in uncharted territory. This is both comforting and terrifying: exhilarating!

We might begin with understanding the difference between complexity and being complicated.

“I want to say that short circuiting complexity is never a good idea. It makes life complicated. Complicated and complex are not the same thing. Complex looks like an ocean; whole and alive with a vitality that is generated through interrelational, interdependent processes.”

~ Nora Bateson

Complexity and Chaos

My work as a blogger, author, speaker, coach, and consultant has been focused on the issue of complexity for some time now. I have been urging spiritual leaders of every kind to recognize the increasing complexity which is a result of cultural evolution – the tendency of human culture to grow more complex, necessitating that individuals and groups adapt internally, through the emergence of greater capacities, to come into coherence with increasingly complex living conditions. Some of this emergence is natural and some will come into conflict with our attachments to old and existing structures and forms which cannot continue forward.

In other words – our world, our human world, grows more complex, mostly because of our own doing, and the evolution of greater capacities already within us. When we adapt, we can successfully navigate our newly complex surroundings. When we fail to adapt, life gets more complicated. Spiral Dynamics (LINK) is a good model to use in understanding this process. As new levels of complexity unfold, we must adapt and change. If we do not, we suffer due to our inability to successfully navigate new living conditions of greater complexity.

“Whatever leadership used to be — it used to be. Now, it has to be something different. Now, we all have to be more than we were. The kind of leadership that I want to explore may not be identifiable as leadership at all.  I am interested in a kind of mutually alert care and attention to the well-being of all people and ecological systems. This kind of leadership cannot be found in individuals, but rather between them. It cannot be found in organizations, nations, religions or institutions, but rather between them. I have called it Liminal Leadership to highlight the relational characteristics.”

~ Nora Bateson

I have blogged about liminal spaces (LINK) before – the spaces in-between the places where we feel grounded in the known. The chaos point described above by Peter Merry is an example of a liminal space. Newly emerging leadership must be systemically different than what came before. In other words, trying to imitate your teacher(s) who successfully built a spiritual community in the past is futile. If they were here today, and did the same things they did then, they would not be successful the way they were in their time. It is a different world now. Nora Bateson describes growing complexity beautifully, recognizing that a poetic approach is the only way to begin to grasp what is unfolding.

“Part of the problem is that, globally, nationally and personally, we face crises that can be described as ‘complex’ or ‘wicked’ problems. Complexity is recognizable in situations which have multiple variables in ever shifting contexts of interdependency. Some examples of complex living systems are oceans, cities, families, economic systems, culture, the health of our own bodies, and the medical systems we expect to support them. In each of these systems, vitality is produced by multiple processes in contextual interaction. To study a jungle is to recognize that the jungle itself is not an isolated “thing” but instead exists in the interrelationship between soil, foliage, animals, weather patterns, bacteria and so on. The same contextual linkings can be found in all living systems; approaching the system without an understanding of this holism will create short circuits in the complexity and countless unintended consequences. Making sense of the vitality of a complex system is an inquiry into its way of making contact. A study of the relational patterns gives entirely different understanding of the way in which a system is cohering.”

~ Nora Bateson from her blog (LINK)

A spiritual community is more than an organization; it is a living system which can only be partially understood at best. There are too many aspects, most invisible, which are instrumental it its expression. Nora Bateson mentions “short circuits in the complexity and countless unintended consequences”; how many of those have shown up in your ministry? Yet, we will never grasp it all – we are, at best, able to comprehend a sense of direction and somehow, steer the living system forward toward its highest expression. This, of course, requires much more than a skillset – it involves a well-developed intuitive sense, along with a capacity for living in the mystery. Control freaks need not apply!

Holmes & Bateson

“Do not adopt the letter of my teaching, but the spirit, and you will find, as I did, that you will begin to formulate a system that is true for you. I learned for me, and you must learn for yourself that you must develop your own faith and confidence in your own interpretation of God, humanity, and the universe.”

~ Ernest Holmes

Here, Dr. Holmes encourages us to absorb the principles of The Science of Mind and then, think for ourselves. An important thing to know here is the degree of your own willingness to be dishonest with yourself. Are you holding yourself to a sufficiently high standard of practice and self-honesty? That is a high bar, and many of us fail to reach it. We must develop a clear connection with our intuitive knowing – our heart-wisdom – and be radically self-honest if we are to achieve the level of self-mastery needed for these times and the future.

“One of the greatest stumbling blocks in (anyone’s) spiritual advancement is dishonesty; the refusal to honestly face an idea if that idea happens not to please (them).  This comes in part from the human tendency to take the line of least resistance, whether it be in our physical endeavors or in the operation of our mind.  Confronted with an idea that repudiates one we have held for years, we go far out of our way, entirely around the idea, to keep from being compelled to analyze and possibly to absorb it.”

~ Ernest Holmes, “It’s Up to You!”

This is neither an easy nor a casual undertaking. It is a whole-self endeavor, but isn’t that the fullest way to live? To be fully engaged with developing yourself to face big challenges and to bring the highest and best of yourself to creating #aworldthatworksforeveryone and #TheBelovedCommunity?

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

If you are incarnated on Earth at this time, you are faced with huge challenges and huge opportunities. You are called to bring forth the best of yourself, over and over again. You are called to find ways of doing this and still living a rewarding life! You are called to step up to a daily spiritual practice which allows the emergence of your hidden splendor into actualized expression. Your spiritual community can be a vehicle for supporting its members in doing just that – for we are more likely to express our inner greatness with the support of a strong spiritual community – a living system of beings interconnected for a higher purpose, each bringing his or her unique genius to the process of becoming. But we must realize that there is no finish line in this work. Complexity is here, it is growing, and it is speeding up. We are called to bring our best selves to all the challenges this brings. New Thought gives us the tools and the perspective to do this – we must study and practice daily to be the fullest possible expression of our spiritual potential. And, we must release what no longer serves the realization of these aims. That is our work – we are the generation.

“The generation that breaks the cycle will be tasked with tending to the generations that couldn’t. It doesn’t seem fair to give that kind of love and care to those who withheld the nourishment we needed. But who are we if we don’t? So, we do.”

~ Nora Bateson 

As always, your comments are welcomed below. Thank you for reading! Feel free to share this post with others who may find it of value.

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

NOTE: I am very gratified to have begun a relationship with AGNT as a guest blogger on a semi-monthly basis. Here is the link to my first post: https://www.agnt.today/blog

And grateful to Harv Bishop of HarvBishom.com for having me as a guest blogger last week. Here is the link to that post: http://www.harvbishop.com/?p=1378


“I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.”

~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Having been in the throes of a major personal transformation process over the past three years or so, I have become more sensitive to this kind of process emerging in others – both in people and organizations. And I see it everywhere.

As of a few weeks ago, I am living in France, on a long-stay visa, looking for an apartment with my wife, Dorianne Cotter-Lockard, whose own journey has paralleled mine, at least in a geographical sense. During the past 2 ½ years, we have visited 23 countries and 16 of the United States, looking for a new home base (which we believe we have found in Lyon, France – we shall see). But more important to this post is the process that got us up and out and moving around; what drove us to sell most of our belongings, uproot from our home, for me to retire from pulpit ministry?

“Every transformation demands as its precondition ‘the ending of a world’ – the collapse of an old philosophy of life.”

~ C.G. Jung, Man and His Symbols


What led me (and I will only speak for myself here) to initiate the outer effects of inner transformation was a degree of dissatisfaction – discontent, if you will. Something was emerging within me which was not a good fit with the outer life experiences that I had created in my life to that point in time. It was time to move on.

I’m restless.

Things are calling me away.

My hair is being pulled by the stars again.

~ Anaïs Nin 

Everything can be fine, then, almost imperceptively, it isn’t fine. Or, everything can be fine, then, suddenly, it isn’t – there is no set pattern. For me, in this instance, it was the gradual one. But I had come to know about the value of Divine Discontent, and was more receptive than I may have been in the past.


Since Dorianne was experiencing something akin to that, we decided to sell our home, cars, most of our furniture and belongings and move on. Initially, it was going to be to the east coast, where she had a couple of applications for jobs – but they did not come through, so off we went, and just kept going. We went from intending to relocate to define ourselves as “Intentional Nomads.”

“Transformation is about enlargement, and enlargement generally comes only from suffering. Stop and reflect on growth experiences. Invariably they arise out of conflict and loss, for consciousness only comes from the tension of opposites.”

~ James Hollis, Jungian analyst

Our suffering, mine anyway, was not horrible, it was well within the definition of Divine Discontent which I understood – the inner urge toward something new, defined or not, which grows unless and until you listen to it. When we set out there was no plan, no clear goal. Our intention was to make ourselves available to people, places, and things which inspired us, and perhaps gave an opportunity to share our gifts. Along the way, I began this blog and found my voice about leadership in a spiritual setting, and about the interrelationship of spiritual community, a changing world, and the challenges of spiritual leadership. I wrote and published a book (LINK) on the topic, and often speak and coach on the subject.

I had noticed the growing discontent within myself for a while before acting, and I have noticed evidence of it in many of the people I knew (and know) – a restlessness, a growing sense of disconnection; old patterns and strategies no longer work. When we experience this, most do what I had done initially: try the same things as before, only “louder”; or they had begun a process of withdrawal from the world – a combination of settling for the discontent and slowly giving up.

“The manifestation of emotional and psychosomatic symptoms is the beginning of a healing process through which the organism is trying to free itself from traumatic imprints and simplify its functioning. . .. when properly understood and supported, this process can be conducive to healing, spiritual opening, personality transformation, and evolution of consciousness.”

~ Stanislav Grof, Shift Magazine, June-August 2004

This profound statement by Stanislav Grof requires a reordering of our perspective on the healing process – and moving from one life paradigm to another that is more suited to who you are becoming is a healing. So often, we get stuck in the part of the process that requires us to let go and trust (surrender) that an inner wisdom is emerging to carry us forward. It is very important to be in touch with our sense of intuition at this stage. Instead, we resist and double-down on the old ways. And our suffering increases.


I see the same thing in many of our spiritual communities. As I have blogged about so often, we are in a time of rapid and profound cultural change. “The sky is not falling, but the earth is moving,” as Dr. Gary Simmons says. People don’t want to be in spiritual community in the old ways in sustainable numbers, and our communities struggle with how to come to terms with that reality, usually beginning with denial. Our ways of “doing church” have been changing, often too slowly, and we face an uncertain future with little guidance as to how to proceed. But proceed we must, for the old ways are no longer sufficient in the world in which we find ourselves, much less in the world where we are headed.

The same Divine Discontent drives both processes – the transformation of our individual selves and that of our spiritual communities. The incredible good fortune that we in New Thought share is that our spiritual communities are designed to be vehicles for our personal transformation. A major part of the present challenge is those vehicles need more than a tune-up; they need an overhaul. Undoubtedly, the wisdom to carry us forward is emerging now and will continue to emerge within the chrysalis of enlightened spiritual community – the question is, will we be wise enough to recognize it when it comes through what may well be unrecognized channels?

“It is in the narratives and the psalms. Beginning with the Exodus narrative and the Elijah narrative and the Jesus narrative, they are all storied about public transformation that happened by courage of uncredentialled people. These kinds of narratives feed our imagination and give us energy and courage. As the civil rights movement of the 1960s and ‘70s understood, singing is a way to keep your nerve. If you think about the Song of Miriam or those dangerous songs (many of which are in the mouths of women) we are invited to join that kind of singing which is a refusal to accept the dominant definitions of reality. Such singing and storytelling is an insistence that there is another way to experience the world and there is another way to act in the world. These are very important models and authorizations for us.”

~ Walter Brueggemann

In future posts on this topic, I will explore more about Divine Discontent and how it manifests individually and collectively – and how it is, when seen with proper perspective, a great treasure in our transformation.

 Dali-2 - Egg

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard



Here is where you can get my book
A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership
in paperback or Kindle editions –


“When prehistoric fossils were first discovered in rocks, 18th century scientists insisted that they were natural formations, accidental conformations of rock, rather than undertake a massive revision of all their ideas about nature and the age of the earth.”

~ Colin Wilson

Sometimes it seems as if 75% of social media posts are attempts to change someone’s mind about something. And, have you noticed, it rarely, if ever, works. The same is true of many of our conversations and most, if not all the Sunday lessons presented by New Thought Spiritual Leaders.

Despite all the effort, we see very few changed minds. Oh, some are changed over time – because that person decides to change, but no one’s mind is changed without their cooperation.

“Change is hard because people don’t only think on the surface level. Deep down people have mental maps of reality — embedded sets of assumptions, narratives and terms that organize thinking. . .. Can (they) change their underlying mentality to adapt to these realities? Intellectual history says no. People almost never change their underlying narratives or unconscious frameworks.”

~ David Brooks, NYTimes 1/29/2013

As human beings, we are built to believe that what we already believe is true and to seek out data that agrees with what we already believe. We have built-in brain structures that make us tend to view the world as if it conforms to what we already believe. These structures create blind spots to information that does not conform with what we already believe; and even if forced to view the contradictory information, we can easily rationalize a way around it and keep our same beliefs. We have known this about ourselves for a long time.



1. Believing you can profit from hurting another.
2. Worrying about things you can’t change.
3. To insist that something is impossible just because you can’t do it.
4. Holding fast to trivial pride, preference, and prejudice.
5. People stop learning.
6. Trying to compel others to believe and live as you do.

That #6, is a big one. In New Thought teachings, we learn to change our own mind – not to change the mind of others. Why? Because we have no such power over others. True, we may be able to influence others, but a changed mind must come from within that person. We may be able to make someone behave in a certain way through coercion or force, but that is very unlikely to change their mind. A famous story about the legendary Religious Science minister Raymond Charles Barker (LINK) tells of the time that he had books entitled “How to Change Other People” put in the church bookstore. Many people eagerly purchased them, only to find when opening them that they were blank inside. The next Sunday he spoke about the need to change yourself.

But that is only half of the story.

Changing minds can only happen in a conversation, never in a lecture. Each person must be willing to open their mind to a new possibility – to “go out onto the skinny branches,” as Dr. Arleen Bump often says. There must be an inner dialogue in response to any lecture in which the person moved toward a new belief.

“Our blind spot, from a person or people point of view, keeps us from seeing that we do indeed have greatly enhanced direct access to the deeper sources of creativity and commitment, both as individuals and as communities. It is one of our most hopeful sources of confidence because we can access a deeper presence, power, and purpose from within.” 

~ C. Otto Scharmer, Theory U

We both enter the conversation with blind spots which you can imagine as being created by the fear that any belief in opposition is a threat to us. Unless we go deeper than our normal surface level (what Scharmer calls Downloading), we will not open the mind, heart, or will – the keys to a changed mind. Like medieval knights in a joust, we will have only two possible outcomes – win or lose – and it is unlikely that any minds will be changed. Unfortunately, we also have blind spots to our ability to go deeper than our surface consciousness.

But, only when we go deeper, into the realms of mind, heart, and will, can we direct our change processes with intention and purpose. In his Theory U Model (LINK), Scharmer shows how this process can be self-directed in individuals and groups.

“Time and again we try to cope with situations using collective instruments that are out of tune. Rather than stopping to tune them, we increase the pace, hire consultants who want to increase productivity by further reducing the time devoted to tuning and practicing, hire new conductors who promise to conduct even faster, and so forth. But the obvious thing to do—to stop and tune the instruments collectively—doesn’t come easily because it requires a shift of the mind to a deeper level of operating.” 

~ C. Otto Scharmer, Theory U

We can influence others, but how? Often, we insult them and their beliefs, or do things to undermine their success. This is because we are as attached to our own beliefs as they are to theirs and we have our own blind spots! Our belief system tells us that different beliefs can be dangerous to us. Our motivation to convert others to our way of thinking is usually based on an unconscious need to feel safe. When we react out of fear with anger, we will likely influence others to keep their own beliefs! We see the results of such largely unconscious thinking in many social media posts. Until we learn to break with the past and focus on what is wanting to emerge, we will stay in conflict.

“Isn’t there a way to break the patterns of the past and tune into our highest future possibility—and to begin to operate from that place? . . . The ability to shift from reacting against the past to leaning into and presenting an emerging future is probably the single most important leadership capacity today.”

~ C. Otto Scharmer

Whether you are a leader or not, this awareness is important. We all have blind spots, we all have current beliefs that we will unconsciously defend (rightly or wrongly), and we all will attempt to get others to join us in our blind spots and beliefs. At the same time, others will be trying to get you to join them in their blind spots and beliefs. And so, we go in circles. It can get exhausting and lead to depression and even rage.



We serve ourselves well when we include these qualities and skills in our spiritual practices and in our organizational practices. If we are to strengthen our ability to stand in Truth, even when uncomfortable, we must be able to release what no longer serves us. We can only let go by healing our blind spots – by being open to amazement. This requires us to bring the process to conscious awareness more often (“What am I missing right now? Where am I locked into a belief? Is it true?”).


You may come to see that the intransigence of others is a reflection of your own intransigence. That your inner unconscious fears that what you believe is the only right way to believe has created a big blind spot to the validity of different points of view. Which is not to say that you are wrong in your belief, only that your fear and the resulting blind spots make you incapable of seeing other possibilities and empathizing the those who believe differently.

“This is the moment when what we need most is enough people with the skill, heart, and wisdom to help us pull ourselves back from the edge of breakdown and onto a different path.”

~ C. Otto Scharmer

Our New Thought principles (LINK) always lead in the same direction – toward self-awareness and self-development. We do our work in consciousness on ourselves and we transform our belief system toward something greater within the realm of Infinite Possibility. When we are transformed, our experience of life is changed and our influence of others is also changed. Maybe they didn’t need to change at all. Maybe our holding them as “wrong” was a case of spiritual arrogance on our part. Maybe our own transformation created a space for them to expand their awareness and development.

I do my spiritual work.

I cease declaring anyone my enemy.

I embrace my connection to the Infinite.

I am transformed and my experience shifts accordingly.


“Change is inevitable. Progression is a choice.”

~ Sonya Teclin

As always, your comments are appreciated. Feel free to share this post with others who may be interested. Thank you!


Text Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard



CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

By Jim Lockard

Available in paperback or Kindle editions



This morning at about 8:30 am, Rome time, I saw the results of the US election. I would say that I was shocked but not surprised – my inner voice had for some time been saying that there was a far greater level of support for Donald Trump and conservative policies than was being voiced in the public arenas to which I was attuned.

So how to respond? How to feel? What to do?

As I ate breakfast, I glanced at a couple of social media sites and a few news outlets. That didn’t help.

I felt a great sadness, and, at the same time, I felt that there is a wide swath of the US that I simply do not understand, and without understanding I would be unable to move forward in relation to them, and to myself. I was not in a place to think about specifics – what was likely to happen or not happen with all the branches of government being regressive as opposed to progressive or gridlocked for the next few years. I knew instinctively that I had to process my feelings first.

So, I went on a walkabout in Rome. This is a city that has survived many an incompetent and narcissistic leader. And it is still here. There are remains from thousands of years ago as well as still standing and useful buildings from six hundred or more years ago. Despite all the conflicts, avarice, inquisitions, fascists, communists, and others who have held sway here, the city still stands, vibrant and filled with life.

My walkabout led me past the Spanish Steps, the Villa Medici, the Piazza del Popolo, the Pantheon, the Piazza Vittoriano, the Trevi Fountain, and more. I stopped in every church that I passed, I lost count how many (there are a LOT of churches in Rome), and meditated for five or ten minutes in each.

Some of that time I had my eyes closed, and some I had them open to see the wonders of art in these amazing places. I saw the high percentage of artworks that depicted suffering, pain, and sadness; and yet, the general feeling of the churches and basilicas was of inspiration. I found solace in these buildings despite having left much of what is taught in them behind in my life.

I came back to my hotel room and looked at some quotes by Ernest Holmes that have inspired me. Here are a few:

“The thing simmers itself down to this. Can we, in the midst of negative conditions, accept a greater good? If we can we shall be complying with the Law of Life. We shall be giving Life a chance to work for us.” ~ Ernest Holmes 

“Cease weeping over the mistakes of yesterday and steadfastly holding the face of the great and divine Reality, walk in that Light wherein there is no darkness.” ~ Ernest Holmes

“I cleanse the windows of my mind, that I may become a mirror reflecting inspiration from the Most High.” ~ Ernest Holmes

“(One’s) mind should swing from inspiration to action, from contemplation to accomplishment, from prayer to performance.” ~ Ernest Holmes


“Crying out to Life, beseeching It to be good, has no effect whatsoever upon It; It already is good. Asking It to give you life produces no good results; It has already incarnated Itself in you, as you. But inward awareness unifies the intellect with Life and binds the personal man back to the Universal Presence. This is what is meant by spiritual understanding and realization.” ~ Ernest Holmes, The Art of Life

THE HIGHEST ATTITUDE OF MIND. “The highest attitude of mind, from which all else springs, is one of perfect calm and absolute trust in the Spirit. The one who can with perfect confidence look into the future and with perfect ease of mind rest in the present, and who never looks backward, but who has learned to be still in his own soul and wait upon the Spirit, he is the one who will the most completely demonstrate the supremacy of spiritual thought over all so-called material resistance. ‘Be still and know that I Am God.’” Ernest Holmes, Creative Mind

And this quote from Florence Scovel Shinn that I used as the title of this post:

“I am not moved by appearances; therefore, appearances move.”

My suggestion to all who read this is to get in touch with your feelings about this election and its meaning in your life. Ask yourself what is causing any feelings that arise and further, ask if your mind is focused on the ultimate Truth of your being, or on the fear that comes from believing that others have dominion over your experience.

Ours is not to wish that what has appeared had not. Ours is to make our way through the current expressions of external reality toward something greater. And to do so with love, clarity, and compassion.

Once that is clear, you are read to decide how you will be with the new external reality and what, if any, actions you may take.

Do your spiritual practices as often and as deeply as needed to allow yourself to move through whatever is stopping your from embracing Life within and without.

I am still processing all of this and will be for some time. My flight back to the U.S. is scheduled for tomorrow, after nearly six months in Europe and the Middle East. I look forward to being a healing presence wherever possible.

Love and Light to all.


Copyright 2016 – Jim Lockard


Change is a funny thing. Whatever our orientation to change in the Edgewalkers™ Model (LINK), we tend to hold fast to our current belief system. This is not a new concept – Benjamin Franklin wrote about it (LINK). The human brain is designed to process thought in certain ways, and those ways are often not rational and do not have a bias toward finding the truth; in fact, they have a bias to confirming whatever we already happen to believe. This makes being open minded a quality that does not come naturally – it must be cultivated.

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You will note that most of the references in this link-filled post come from the wonderful Brainpickings.org (LINK) site. David McRaney, a journalist and author of several books about thinking, has termed one of these non-rational tendencies the Backfire Effect.

“Once something is added to your collection of beliefs, you protect it from harm. You do this instinctively and unconsciously when confronted with attitude-inconsistent information. Just as confirmation bias shields you when you actively seek information, the ‘backfire effect’ defends you when the information seeks you, when it blindsides you. Coming or going, you stick to your beliefs instead of questioning them. When someone tries to correct you, tries to dilute your misconceptions, it backfires and strengthens those misconceptions instead. Over time, the backfire effect makes you less skeptical of those things that allow you to continue seeing your beliefs and attitudes as true and proper.”

~ David McRaney (LINK) (LINK)

What often happens when we are presented with conflicting evidence about a belief that we hold, is that we actually end up building new memories and new neural connections that further strengthen our original convictions. In other words, we tend to reinforce our existing beliefs by selecting (or fabricating) evidence that tends to support them, even in the face of greater evidence that we are wrong.

According to McRaney, part of this is just mental laziness:

“The more difficult it becomes to process a series of statements, the less credit you give them overall. During metacognition, the process of thinking about your own thinking, if you take a step back and notice that one way of looking at an argument is much easier than another, you will tend to prefer the easier way to process information and then leap to the conclusion that it is also more likely to be correct. In experiments where two facts were placed side by side, subjects tended to rate statements as more likely to be true when those statements were presented in simple, legible type than when printed in a weird font with a difficult-to-read color pattern. Similarly, a barrage of counterarguments taking up a full page seems to be less persuasive to a naysayer than a single, simple, powerful statement.”

~ David McRaney

If you refer back to the five-part series on U.S. politics and New Thought (LINK), you may see how this often plays out – once you become convinced that one political candidate is the best, it becomes very difficult to accept evidence to the contrary. Often, this means hearing such evidence and deciding that it is being falsified to attack your candidate. In fact, the more evidence you are presented with, the more likely you are to hold to your original position. This may also explain why it is often very difficult for those coming into New Thought to let go of their original concepts of God, heaven, hell, etc.

Face - Audience in FearPhilosopher Daniel Dennett has developed a process to approach people with different beliefs than your own. The purpose is to avoid the strong internal reaction to contrary evidence early in a conversation.

How to compose a successful critical commentary:

  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”
  2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

~ Daniel Dennett (LINK)

The goal here is to help foster a space where true communication can occur. C. Otto Scharmer’s Theory U™ (LINK) is a powerful tool to understand this process, which I will blog on in a future post. Scharmer says that 90+% of our communication is what he calls downloading: speaking and listening from our existing belief system. Such communication tends to remain in the realm of the expected. Going deeper than that begins a pattern of disruption of beliefs and emotions, hence, we tend to stay near the surface. Going deeper without intention and love is usually a very negative experience.

To this we can add the concept of complementarity:

“Complementarity — the idea that two different ways of regarding reality can both be true, but not at the same time, so in order to describe reality we must choose between the two because the internal validity and coherence of one would interfere with that of the other — is a centerpiece of quantum theory (LINK).”

~ Maria Popova

This means that:

“To address different questions, we must process information in different ways. In important examples, those methods of processing prove to be mutually incompatible. Thus no one approach, however clever, can provide answers to all possible questions. To do full justice to reality, we must engage it from different perspectives. That is the philosophical principle of complementarity. It is a lesson in humility that quantum theory forces to our attention… Complementarity is both a feature of physical reality and a lesson in wisdom.”

~ Paul Wilczek (LINK)

Unless we are willing to be intentionally open-minded AND to recognize that we may have the truth, but not the TRUTH, we are going to have more than our share of problems, both individually and collectively. That razor’s edge between absolute faith and being willing to explore other ideas and possibilities is at the heart of any progressive spirituality such as New Thought.

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In the next post, I will introduce (or re-introduce) you to Scharmer’s Theory U and explore how to create communication space that allows for us to open our minds, hearts, and even our will. Stay tuned.

As always, your comments are appreciated, as is your decision to follow and to share this blog with others.

Face - happy 2

Copyright 2016 – Jim Lockard


“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas.

I’m frightened of the old ones.”

~ John Cage

When I think about resistance to change in New Thought organizations, communities, and individuals, I am often surprised to find that I am surprised. After all, why should we be different that everyone else? Aren’t most people resistant to change?

And then I think, but don’t most people come into New Thought because they want to make some change in themselves, in their lives? Or maybe they want to find ways to help to make the world a better place? Unless you were born into the teaching, you were probably drawn in looking for something to help change what wasn’t working ideally, right? So wouldn’t that mean that those of us in New Thought would be at least somewhat more likely to be generally open to change than the average population? Maybe?

After exhaustive personal research, my findings are just that – maybe.


Judi Neal, PhD

I do workshops and coach on the Edgewalkers™ Model (LINK) developed by Judi Neal, PhD, which shows that there are five basic “orientations” to change and each of us will naturally develop and operate from one or more of these as an unconscious preference.

While Spiral Dynamics™ offers much value in understanding the evolutionary nature of change, the Edgewalkers Model provides insight into our innate orientations to change. Both models are, therefore, of great value.

The Edgewalkers Model orientations include:


  • Walks Between Worlds
  • Intuitive
  • Seeks Change
  • Comfortable in Transition
  • Unpredictable


  • Keeps vision and values alive
  • Preserves the past
  • Is open to change
  • Reliable but will surprise You
  1. Hearthtenders:
  • Focus is on the Day-to-Day Work
  • Lives in the Present
  • Family and Tradition
  • Reliable/Predictable
  1. Placeholders:
  • Sees Boundaries, Not Possibilities
  • Focus is on the Past
  • Prefers Stability
  • Doing over Dreaming
  1. Guardians:
  • Looks for Potential Problems
  • Foreboding
  • Fearful
  • Sees the Worst Outcome
  • Past-oriented/Closed to Change

 Edgewalker Model Image

These orientations are present in every organization to one degree or another. As with other kinds of orientations, any group may be more or less appealing to someone based, at least in part, on their natural orientation to change. For example, a spiritual community that is very conservative and where little change happens may have few, if any Edgewalkers, because there is little or no energy in support of change. Conversely, a Silicon Valley start-up company may be composed of nothing but Edgewalkers initially, and will later need to add some of the other orientations to support a more ongoing process of being in business.

All of the orientations are neutral – neither in inherently good nor bad – but can best be evaluated by how the orientation, and therefore the person who has it, relates to any given group or situation.

The orientations of the Edgewalkers Model give us some insight into why change is more difficult for some than others, but it does not fully explain why change is not more readily forthcoming in New Thought adherents, their communities and organizations. Remember, most of us came into New Thought seeking to change our lives if not our world. Given that, why don’t we seek change at every level more readily than we do?

Why are some like Edgewalkers:

“. . . They swap cities. Invest in projects with no guarantee. Are interested in people who are opposite of them. Resign without having another job in sight. Accept an invitation to do what they never did. Are prepared to change their favorite color or favorite dish. They start from zero countless times. They are not frightened by getting old. They climb on stage, shear their hair, do crazy things for love; purchase one-way tickets.”

~ Author Unknown

And others are more like Placeholders or Guardians? Maybe it has something to do with this:

“Every positive change – every jump to a higher level of energy and awareness – involves a rite of passage. Each time to ascend to a higher rung on the ladder of personal evolution, we must go through a period of discomfort, of initiation. I have never found an exception.”

~ Dan Millman

Often, it is simply about finding your own comfort zone in relationship to change. Those with an Edgewalker orientation tend to be most comfortable in the chaos of the change process and become easily bored when there is nothing new happening. Hearthtenders, Placeholders, and Guardians will tend to be most comfortable when there is a sense of homeostasis – when routine is the order of the day and things are more predictable.

“To think creatively is to walk at the edge of chaos.”

~ Robert Grudin

Another issue is that Edgewalkers, by their very nature (they are always coming up with new ideas and finding new things to try) can generate resentment in those with different orientations who are trying to keep an organization operating. Edgewalkers have to be cultivated and supported, even if everything that they suggest does not get implemented. It is easy to make them feel so uncomfortable that they leave.

One of our largest challenges today is that the world around us – the cultural world, in almost every respect, is not in homeostasis, but rather, it is in a period of rapid cultural evolutionary change that is apparently speeding up with each passing year. This means, among other things, that those whose natural orientation is focused in the present or past only are going to find themselves falling farther and farther behind the curve of evolutionary development. In the context of New Thought spiritual communities this will often look like those in leadership wondering why attendance and revenues are falling; why the remaining congregation is aging; why what used to be the most popular classes are not filling up; why younger people are not in the seats on Sundays or in classes; why zoning regulations are making it more difficult to find space for centers; and so on. These challenges require new and different thinking, as well as a greater openness to change.

In fact, it is increasingly essential that organizations not only embrace change, but that they integrate continual innovation as a core value. For many, especially those centered in the orientations that tend to look to the past or who cherish day-to-day routine and sameness, this is a major challenge.

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.”

~ Abraham Maslow

It is time to have some serious conversations about change, about innovation, and about the developing role of New Thought in a rapidly changing world.

“For us to remain relevant and contemporary we will have to slay some sacred cows.”

~ Edward Viljoen

In the next post, we will explore some specifics about the dynamics of personal and organizational change in New Thought. As always, your comments are welcome.

I offer Edgewalkers Workshops and I am a certified coach on the Edgewalkers Model. Contact me if you would like more information.

Edgewalker Logo

Copyright 2016 – Jim Lockard


“There is no greater mistake than to be afraid of change, and yet many intelligent people dread it and cling to what is customary and familiar. To be afraid of change is to doubt the providence of God. It is an unintelligent fear of the unknown. . . . Welcome every change that comes into every phase of your life.”

~ Emmet Fox, “Find and Use Your Inner Power” 

Let’s talk about change.

Poster - Change is Good - You Go First

I have been in New Thought, in Religious Science to be specific, since 1989. During that time, I have read countless books, articles, blog posts, and social media posts about how to use my mind to change my life for the better. I have read Ernest Holmes, Alan Watts, Ram Dass, Joseph Campbell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ralph Waldo Trine, Thomas Troward, Emmet Fox, Emma Curtis Hopkins, Marianne Williamson, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, Don Miguel Ruiz, Marion Woodman, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and on and on. I have read spiritual, business, motivational, political, scientific, and other kinds of authors. I have watched videos, full-length movies, gone to conferences, retreats, classes, workshops, rituals, had hundreds of deep conversations and read more than a few bumper stickers. I have spoken, presented, been on panels, taught, and written my share for others as well.

Through all of that, I am almost continually amazed that despite all of the training that those in New Thought receive about one thing – change – that there is so much resistance to change at every level within our movement. It is almost as if many of us were suffering from methathesiophobia.

“Metathesiophobia” — (noun) Described as a fear of unwanted change, metathesiophobia reveals a deeper personal and existential challenge than most phobias. Metathesiophobia is rooted from an inner insecurity and the knowledge that we cannot control every detail in our lives, such as your best friend moving away or entering adulthood. (LINK)

When it comes to change, many in New Thought, just as many in the general population, are conservative in the sense that they do not seek change beyond limited areas of their lives; and often resist change that is someone else’s idea or that calls them out of a place of relative comfort.

“Change is simply motion within Life.” 

~ Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind

Maybe we in New Thought make so many personal changes that we become a bit change-averse after a while. We come to recognize the costs, in personal energy, in unexpected consequences, in extra work, and in personal pain – so we back off a bit. We may develop another malady, psychosclerosis – a hardening of the attitudes. This may be mostly an unconscious process that occurs over time.

“Change is hard because people don’t only think on the surface level. Deep down people have mental maps of reality — embedded sets of assumptions, narratives and terms that organize thinking. . . . People almost never change their underlying narratives or unconscious frameworks.”

~ David Brooks, NYTimes 1/29/2013

Often, community and organizational changes can be more challenging than individual changes. They require cooperation with others in addition to personal changes. When a center moves to a new location or changes the number of services and/or service times and people have to adjust, they often resist the change (even to the point of no longer attending), even if intellectually they can see the value in the changes.

The Integration process between the former United Church of Religious Science and Religious Science International into Centers for Spiritual Living was and continues to be the driver for a vast number of changes. The “conversation” about whether and how to accomplish the Integration took nine years. The first two years of that time was spent communicating the idea to the field and some was spent getting to the point where a significant majority were in favor of joining the organizations together. The next seven years was spent primarily doing two things – first, convincing some stakeholders that the aspects of their own culture that they treasured would, at least for the most part, remain intact, and second, working to undo a fair amount of mis-information being shared rather loudly by a few stakeholders who were strongly against the Integration. Even the word Integration was coined by a consultant to replace the word “merger” so as to make the concept more palatable to some. So the process did not exactly speed along.

Poster - Change ReasonsWe are now four years into the new organization and the growing pains are still evident. Some embrace the new willingly, some still foster grievances about the “loss” of their former organizational culture. Some still identify people by which organization they were affiliated with before the Integration.

Over in Unity, an attempt was made to merge the Unity Worldwide Ministries and the Unity World Headquarters. That merger did not happen.

I believe that we in New Thought have a lot to learn about change at every levelpersonal, communal, and organizational. We need to foster the development of better leadership skills at every level of the movement so that we are better able to stay abreast of our rapidly changing culture, technology, and education. We can no longer afford to resist change, for change is upon us at increasing speed. Fortunately, we who know how to master change using the great spiritual and psychological principles of New Thought’s founders. So I would say that we need to step up our game.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

For one thing, we need to look at the idea that changes to our organization, or to how we do services or classes, or whether we do outreach, somehow threaten our principles. As an example, there are a vocal few on the CSL Ministers’ List Serve call out anyone who suggests that a spiritual community or (God forbid) CSL as a whole, embrace spiritually motivated social activism. The message is clear – RELIGIOUS SCIENCE DOES NOT TELL ANYONE WHAT TO DO, WE TEACH PEOPLE CONSCIOUSNESS. The authors of these “messages,” whom I personally respect, seem to fail to see the irony in their telling others what to do by saying that Religious Science doesn’t tell people what to do.

Some fear of change arises from an unconscious fear of success.

“Accommodating change and uncertainty requires a looser sense of self, and ability to respond in various ways. This is perhaps why qualified success unsettles those who are locked into fixed positions. The shift back to failure is a defensive measure.”

~ Rebecca Solnit (LINK)

There is an additional irony in the example about the Ministers’ List Serve. The stance of the “verbal few” flies in the face of the fact that in creating the Centers for Spiritual Living organization by approving the founding documents in 2011, the organization nearly unanimously (99%) adopted a set of values and principles which clearly includes spiritually motivated social activism along with strategic spiritual partnerships to foster our vision of #AWorldThatWorksForEveryone. I have posted about this before (LINK). This is not the topic at hand, only an illustration of it.

“But time inexorably marches on, and people evolve. No historical solution is ever permanent. If you are unwilling to change quickly enough, you lose control of the situation.”

~ Albert Camus, Algerian Chronicles

The topic at hand is resistance to change and the refusal of some to see a way forward in the CSL organization and local communities for spiritually motivated social activism is but one example. Another is our collective refusal to seriously look at the diminishing participation in Sunday services and other “church-like” activities. Instead of actively planning ahead to explore the development new models and teaching innovation (which even some mainstream denominations have been doing, in some cases for decades), we continue to teach our new ministers as if we were in a stable situation instead of one in rapid transformation. And there is the general need in today’s fast-evolving times to embed a sense of innovation in every organization’s values system as well as in its operations. Why do we resist so? Your comments are appreciated.

“Change is inevitable. Progression is a choice.”

~ Sonya Teclin

In my next post, I will explore a model that can add to our understanding the dynamics of change and our resistance to it as we move forward – The Edgewalker Model developed by Judi Neal.

Poster - Change is a Process

Copyright 2016 – Jim Lockard