Why The Evolutionary Leadership Workshop?

The impulse to develop the Evolutionary Leadership Workshop was the desire for creative freedom. I work for institutional clients, the client is the convener and I’m invited in to design and facilitate the experience. It is beautiful work and I am privileged to do it. But it is work that demands compromise. The client has their own goals, their sense of what is possible and their own set of constraints.

I set out to create a space that was free of such compromise. I decided to try being the convener. And I developed a workshop where I could apply the very best of what I have learned in service of what I see as our highest purpose.

Photo by Danielle Coates-Connor

Photo by Danielle Coates-Connor

The planet is burning. The species is at a choice point. We seem to be on the fast track to an evolutionary crash. The only way out I see is an evolutionary leap, an adaptive shift at the level of consciousness and culture and the birth of a new “We.” This is the cause that I live to serve.

I have done most of my work in the space of social movements. I get to spend most of my time with folks who are passionately committed to creating a new world. But there is too much knowing in this space. There is too much in-fighting about what path or ideology is best. There is too much fundamentalism and not enough curiosity, not enough wonder.


I wanted to develop a workshop for people who want to make dreams real. We always say that Evolutionary Leadership is not for people who want to find their purpose, it is for people who have a purpose and want to manifest it in the real world.

The workshop is anchored by the idea that no one really knows how to get where we want to go. We come together ready to experiment our way into what it is that we each want to create. Experimentation becomes our ethos. We are driven by our questions much more than by the certitude of answers.

These were the anchoring ideas. The belief that we must take an evolutionary leap leading us into the next stage of consciousness and culture. And the understanding that we must commit ourselves to lifetimes of relentless experimentation. That we must be willing to get things wrong if we are ever to get them right.

Decades of working with leaders have taught me the power of people with purpose. I think of purpose as the burning desire that calls forth from within us, the voice of evolution itself as it is moving through us. To align with our purpose is to propel ourselves by this evolutionary thrust. And so I set out to recruit leaders and to bring them into a workshop that would harness the creative power of each of their truest intentions, the manifestation of their purpose.

But individual intention has never been enough. And the paradigm that we want to break out of is the paradigm of isolated individualism that leads the most affluent societies on earth to also be loneliest and saddest.

I set out to cultivate the power of authentic connection, the magic that comes when we turn to one another, when we tune in to this “We” that is greater than any of us but that also includes the whole of us. I wanted participants in the workshop to develop friendships that would last a lifetime. Because I knew this to be the only way in which we can truly sustain ourselves, and our creative momentum.

Photo by  Maureen White

Photo by Maureen White

Intention. Connection. Experimentation. These are the tenets of the Evolutionary Leadership Workshop.

Grappling with the very real possibility of extinction. Aware that oppression, inequity and injustice cripple our capacity to face the crisis. Knowing the planet is pillaged by a logic of extraction and the patriarchal fantasy of endless growth, I sought a spirituality that would help me turn towards this bitter reality, give me the tools needed to face it and the hope to redefine it.

The growing movement of Evolutionary (or Integral) Spirituality captured my soul’s imagination. The emergent philosophy resonated deeply with my own experience. But the promising movement is still defined by privileged white folks. And I still cannot believe how these brilliant spiritual minds seem to miss the dangerous contradiction of talking about the evolution of consciousness and culture to the exclusion of people of color.

The workshop is my way of bringing perspective into this emergent discourse. The Evolutionary Leadership Workshop is composed predominantly of women and people of color. It brings people together who do real things in the real world, holding the perspective of justice, of communities, of ancestors and traditions, healing modalities and sacred medicines. No evolution of consciousness and culture could ever claim to be hopeful without including these people.

We are currently bringing together the fourth cohort of Evolutionary Leaders. I have been blown away by the interviews and I cannot believe the quality of people that we are attracting.

The outcomes of the workshop have exceeded my wildest dreams. The community of evolutionaries that is growing around this commitment to truly leap is a community of love, vision and mutual care unlike any I’ve ever seen. It is a community that leads and sustains itself. It celebrates success and failure because it knows the power of collective effort.This June, after the fourth yearly workshop, we will have our first ever “reunion” of evolutionary leaders. It really is a graduate level workshop designed to weave the web of relationship across participants in the first three cohorts. It comes loaded with tools and practices to energize this budding movement and give each of us more capacity to be, to lead, to grow and evolve in ways that ready this leap.

We are now at a tipping point. This work has a life of its own. My job is to keep showing up, to continue to listen for what is needed, and to make sure I get out of the way for the things that want to happen that I could not have foreseen.

This certainly is one of the most amazing journeys that I have ever been a part of. My work could stop today and this culture shaping love would be certain to live on. There is a new “We” becoming, and it is greater than any of us.

Photo by  Maureen White

Photo by Maureen White