How To Engage Fully In A Crisis 1: Science & Spirituality In Service Of Transformation
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In this video Switch On CEO and co-founder Nick Jankel introduces Bio-Transformation Theory® and shares how it can help you to adapt in times of crisis.
If you prefer to read content rather than watch, a transcript of the video is below:
Hi, my name’s Nick Jankel and I am going to share with you some thoughts, some approaches, some methodologies, some principles, some practices and theory about how to cope with the crisis we all face, how to engage with the pandemic and how to approach this intense experience both personally but also as leaders of organizations, institutions and of course as co-creators of the global social economic system that we all manifest with all our needs and wants and desires and actions. I’ve been asked quite a few times in the last few weeks as the coronavirus started to hit to share some thoughts with the community of people who engage in my work and the work of my business. Switched On leaders, individuals, on various different social platforms, email lists and the wider world.
Now I’m ready to share with you some thoughts but they’re not just any thoughts. They’re actually some structured thoughts because over the last 30 years, and I literally mean 30 years, from really my first psychotherapy session as a 13 year old – around that time – to reading philosophy, to studying medicine at Cambridge.Philosophy of science at Cambridge, moving into mass behavior change in advertising, moving into my own business as an innovation consultant and then leadership consultant and now transformation consultant program, a book writer, author. I’ve been working on what is now my life’s work, which is a theory, it’s a philosophy. It’s a metaphysics, it’s a practice as a tool set and approach for transforming things.
So that’s the work of psychological law or more accurately, psycho-spiritual development, self-development, awareness, development, leadership development. And then how we transform the entities of which we are part that deliver products, services, policies, procedures into the world, enterprises, organizations. And it’s the transformation therefore of systems that you transform when the people and the play as the agents, the institutions within them transform. And in fact, if we want to change the world and be part of the change and all that kind of thing, we realize anyway, you can change the world for the better, which is definitely the opportunity right now. I’m a big opportunity, a massive opening opportunity. We have to change the things that occur in the world, which are best changed through the organizations of people that come together to deliver things into the world. And we call them companies, institutions, organizations, enterprises.
It can be a tiny startup and micro business like ours is or it could be NHS or a global government or the UN. The way the systems change is through organizations, but organizations only change because when people change, because organizations are simply, a constellation of human individual thoughts, feelings, actions coming through in culture, in business models, operating models social change models. So my work in developing this life’s work is about how to change self and how to change the system at the same time, as Isaac Newton had on his desk. Apparently the immortal worlds as above, so below, as the system changes fractally it’s the same process for an individual to change as an individual changes. It’s a fractal representation self-similar presentation of how systems change. And so I’m going to share with you in a number of lectures or webinars, tutorials, I don’t know what they are.
I don’t know how many because it’s going to unfold as I share with you. How this life’s work, which has become, now is biotransformation theory or BTT can help you engage with this crisis meaningfully, purposefully, fully and take it inside you and metabolize it. And I’ll come back to all these ideas into value that you then can give to people to ameliorate the suffering of those you love, to create value in the world for your enterprise and ultimately to transform this system because we do seem to have a once in a lifetime, maybe once in a generation, may be once in a species opportunity right now through an untuned unfolding of this pandemic and related crises, which I’ll come onto again soon. And opportunity to recalibrate, recast our system to transform it into something that works for everyone on the planet. And this is really an important moment for us all.
And the theory of biotransformation theory has seven principles which we call seven gems. The more than principles, their principles and, and lenses and frameworks. Seven gems of which I’m going to share with you the mall during these videos. But first of all, I want to explain how transformation theory came about or really what it’s generated through. And by so entering psychotherapy as a young teenager, I was trying to ask and answer the question, how can I deal with my life’s challenges so far? Divorce and aggression and disconnection and various different ill health issues. I had issues with my past, with my childhood, but also dealing with the very real effects of a family that had gone through the Holocaust. Two of my grandparents had survived, one in Nazi Germany, one in Romania and escaped.
That’s why I’m here. One of the reasons why I’m here. And from that moment I’ve been asking that question to myself. How do I transform myself, my beliefs? My stories, my feelings and not just my feelings, my interoceptive, felt sense, my sensations in my gut and my chest and my heart. My emotions and therefore my behaviors, my actions in the world. Because I wanted to have relationships that worked with my family, with lovers and intimate experiences. I wanted to also do something good in the world. So I went to medical school, after that wanted to be a psychiatrist taking psychology to, it’s what I thought, natural high point, through studying medicine, setting myself, letting you about myself. And ultimately going back into something people were call clinical depression, panic attacks, anxiety.
Obesity. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia which I’ve had since then. I realized that psychiatry as it currently stands, is a partial help. Scientific psychology, neuroscience, they’re all partially helpful, very helpful. And even if we weren’t in a pandemic and an economic implosion that seems to be occurring around us, we all have incredible challenges to deal with in life. Whatever happens, people you love are going to die. In the last week, my grandmother, incredibly powerful influence on my life and many other people’s lives died of pneumonia possibly caused by the virus, but certainly contextually, I think she saw the future of being isolated in her home without anyone visiting. And that really influenced where she was at. We will have to deal with this loss, this grief, this pain.
We’ll be probably sick at some point. People we love appear to be sick. We’ll probably lose our job or probably potentially lose our business. And all the training of life, of self-development comes into its own in these moments. They’re so rich and beautiful. It’s easy to feel enlightened and conscious and connected on a go and beach over in a booth and all loved up dancing around. Or when things are going really well in our team or we just nail something with our business launched a product that’s really getting traction. There’s the easy times what all the practice of life, the practices that we call transformation practices or reconnection practices are there so that we can be transformational, transformative, adaptive, creative, powerful, purposeful, conscious of value in these moments. And bliss is optional. We usually get blessed too, but it is optional.
Pleasure. Happiness is optional. It’s not a part of genuine personal transformation because feelings are pleasant. Happiness will come, go. They’ll move through us and they’ll be lots of fittings of grief and pain and suffering and challenged too. And they’re all part of the conversation. So we can be fully thriving in life is the key, idea in biotransformation theory. We can be fully thriving and not be happy in the moment, but we can always be meaningful, always be conscious, always be growing, was becoming more of who we are and most importantly always being of service. So I realized that it didn’t have all the answers. Bio-Transformation three has three great rivers running into it. As an ocean of wisdom and knowledge. Should I think of mine as mind, by the way? It’s just something I’ve either brought together the work of others, lots of other people, the shoulders of thousands of giants.
I sort of brought it together, curated it would be a better understanding, and perhaps channel some of it in some way. Uh, I’m again, we’ll come onto that in later videos. So science isn’t enough. Science is a great, lens to look through. At the objective world. We look out from our body and we go out into the objective world of objects and we measure them. And that’s how science was developed. It was a way of saying that we can’t always tell what’s going on, uh, through our own subjective biases and, and, and things. So let’s measure it, do lots of measurement on lots of different objects and then come up with some theories, some grounded knowledge and science is the best way we have developed yet as a human species to understand the hard world of objects. These things. , science is great for understanding hard objects, certainly how they interact and move if not exactly what they are.
But it’s less good understanding human beings. And there’s a number of reasons for that. One. Science studies tend to study very small phenomena cause it’s very hard to study psychology, human beings in the world, too many variables. So it cuts out loads of variables to focus on one thing or two things or three things. Most of the studies had been done with Anglo Saxon, Caucasian, middle, upper class students of psychology departments. They’re quite hard to replicate but above science developed as a study of what Galileo called primary properties, primary qualities. So speed, mass, uh, acceleration density, width, height, etc. And at that point, science chose not to study the so called secondary qualities. Interesting that they were call secondary. , subjective experience. It didn’t say we, they’re not important or not real. I just said we can’t really make a science of subjective experience.
I’m just not going to try to. So the scientific tradition as we currently have it in the West went from avoiding studying consciousness, subjective experiences, quality, , experience of feeling happy, sad, guilt, grief, , enlightenment, creativity, , to actually now discounting those experiences and some philosophers of science, some philosophers of consciousness, and a lot of scientists discount all this rich experience that goes on inside us as illusory, , at best, illusory, at worst, and it’ll be our brain cells firing. Which doesn’t account for a number of things like creativity. It doesn’t account for a number of things like love and peace. , doesn’t count for us. Being able to freely freewill change things as leaders. , uh, it doesn’t account for how thoughts, uh, through the placebo effect can, , influence physical reality about biology and many more things. By the way, this music videos are not edited.
There’s no script. There’s no production team here as I usually would have. There’s just me and they’re going to be bloopers and mistakes and whatever. It’s just real coming through right now. So if you, science can tell you a lot about the neurons of your brain, the neurons of your second brain, the gut, it can tell you that we have things like somatic markers that seem to fire. , when we reminded of intense experiences, it seems to tell you that there are lots of, bacteria in the gut that seem to influence our mind. I can tell you that amazingly, the Vegas nerve that we thought I was taught told your brain, told your body what to do with the Vegas nerve. A lot of the fibers of the Vegas nerve seemed to go upwards. New news, , influencing our thinking through our body, , through experience called interoception, , which we’ll come on to.
So it’s like to get all those things, but it tells you very little, , about our conscious experience. , and in fact, science has to be a science of many things. And a lot of times our conscious conscious experiences experience of us, I could ever get into your consciousness. , I can only master my own experience, my own. So the second edition has developed longer than science. That’s only been around for a few hundred years. Some people can trace it back to the Greeks maybe even before. , but as we currently know, only a few hundred years, but there’s another star science. , and science really means knowledge. Originally. There’s another science that have become called the contemplative sciences or the Methodist of sciences. , I call them the wisdom traditions, , where individual philosophers, thinkers, practitioners have been studying their own consciousness, , for an entire lifetime over many lifetimes over millennia.
And those individual philosophers, thinkers, teachers, poets have developed a body of knowledge, uh, which is like treasure trove. It’s all our birthrights to have this knowledge, , which are now called wisdom of philosophy and philosophy, literally meaning philosophy, philosophy, IA, , the love of wisdom. And it’s kind of like wisdom about how to live life. , and includes with it practices for how to understand that wisdom. , and there’s even philosophers or philosophy or historians or philosophy, the thing that, , even the Greeks that we thought so rational, we’re actually doing this kind of wisdom philosophy, how to live your life well, how to deal with life. And that may be the Stoics. , the stoicism, it can be, , the Taoists in China. , it can be Buddhism, it can be Sufism, Kabbalah, mysticism, , German mysticism, Anglo-Saxon American. It can be, , uh, the transcendentalists that can be, uh, people like Amazon in, in the U S , and they all come to the similar understanding of how to engage with life. , and I’ll share some of that. So that’s the first river of biotransformation theory is science, the science of, , our bodies mainly. But I also study and keep up with system science, the science of complex, , often biological, but not always adaptive systems. , the signs of crowds, the science of networks. , but mainly the science of, of neurobiology. , and I still read the primary papers every month. I read 20 or 30 of the ones I think are most interesting.
Second river of the knowledge of biotransformation theory is, is the wisdom traditions, deep readings of Vedanta, Sufism, Buddhism, et cetera. Not just the theories, but then putting them into practice in my own experience and generating my own wisdom through their lenses. And that’s the gaze insight. You’ve got a gaze outside of objective reality and studying that scientifically rigorously. And then we’ve got a gaze inside of our consciousness and that’s the contemplative sciences, the wisdom traditions. And I’ve been bringing those together for 20 years, which has been a, by the way, a fairly thankless task, , because a lot of the science lovers don’t think a lot about spirituality and wisdom, , and downgrade it and disregard it and laugh at it. And a lot of the spiritual people, , don’t like, , objective thinking, the science of things like vaccines, uh, for viruses. , a lot of conspiracy theorists around what science is and isn’t blogging.
Trying to find the triangulation points, the sort of intersection points between the science and the spirituality piece. Because I believe there’s only one reality, not two or three or five in the different flavors of it. And that’s going to be biotransformation theory, gem to , only one reality. Therefore, the science and the consciousness studies have to intersect somehow. They have to be connect. So I’ve been trying to piece those connections together over many, many years, hours, days, not 10,000 hours, 10,000, a thousand hours you know, 10, 12 hour days often balanced with living it in my life with my beautiful boys and, and family and friends and loved ones and team. But those two gazes give you an understanding of your inner reality and your outer reality, but what they don’t do is then allow you to create concrete, practical, tangible change. And so the third great river that runs through bar transformation theory is from my work as a actual practitioner of change.
So I’ve run my own business since I was 24. , and I’ve learned a hell of a lot about what actually has to occur for practical things like having salary money in the back. , having projects actually occur on time to budget and to some level of excellence. Uh, in that time I’ve actually been an entrepreneur of change helping over 150, large organizations, various startups, big institutions, government departments of massive countries change themselves to practically like things are different on the ground. People are behaving differently, they’re thinking differently and they’re feeling differently. And I include in that the science or the practice of mass behavior changers. I learned throughout doing advertising for companies like PlayStation where we consciously chose to shift the mindsets and behaviors around something like video gaming, going from people thinking it was a small, uh, pass time for teenage boys to being now a dominant culture of the world in which actually makes more money than Hollywood.
And where something like 45% of all gamers are now women. That was a change that was created by people. Uh, along that way, I’ve done lots of coaching of others, of myself. , run, put in how many days of leadership development programs, how many days of innovation programs, really big, difficult, challenging and high profile change programs. And so I’ve wrapped all that thinking around personal change, psychotherapy, coaching, CBT or that kind of stuff with changing teams, organizations with changing systems. I’ve got on various different systems transformation programs with nonprofits like Oxfam and WRF and people like that. , and that’s the third great Reverend biotransformation theory. So question you might be asking is why share this now? Why this video series now? It’s a very personal set of reasons. One of the reasons BTT is called BTT. Obviously it’s transformation theory, but it’s biotransformation three, it’s rooted in biology.
Bios in Greek means life is written in life, real life and our real biologies and our biology is being also psychologies. , and how biology shift and change and can be led or freewill, chosen to change is cause by also represents something called known as biodynamic theories or biodynamic practices. And for me by demonic means responding to the live moment now with the most appropriate, valuable, conscious, purposeful response that keeps us adapted to the world fitting the world. , you can tell us some evolutionary theory running through this, uh, VTT. And right now we’re in this inflection point and that’s a very personal things going on for me too. So I mentioned my grandmother, I think I mentioned my grandmother died maybe of the pandemic flu, certainly didn’t want to be on her own for months. , that’s a big thing for me.
But I’ve also had of my two sons, one has had the chronic cough, a virus, uh, temperature. We don’t have school little loud. Uh, and the other was in [inaudible]. That’s an emergency, the ER a week before the lockdown started with breathing issues with respiratory issues. , faculty is okay right now. , so really present to the fact that my two little people who are so much of my world are in danger. I’m very present to my parents. Uh, being in the vulnerable groups. I’m very day where myself and my wife, partner, business partner, co-creator. , I will start risk right now. , and so by dynamically really asking what is this moment coding for? And yes, it’s calling for business adaptation, my own work. , but it called me to gift these videos of service. The best thing I can do is help people respond, adapt, creatively, take this thing in that’s happening to us and turn it in.
Something that happened, we happened to it, uh, in our work, in our families, in our organizations, in our communities our villages, our or local supermarket. , and that’s why now so this is also a kind of, I guess, posterity set of videos of my thinking, which I’ve never done in one place before. So I will say, I should be clear that all businesses that threatened my life, like I put my whole life into, uh, for 21 years is now very much at threat. , I may, it’ll be here in six months. So that’s why now. , and I thought, okay, what’s the moment calling for what’s seeking to emerge from me in this moment of what is adapting the business, securing my kids securing our livelihoods uh, sharing. And that’s what I read as a sharing of my work.
And this may be the last of the videos I’ve ever make. I don’t know. We, no one knows. , but it feels like important enough to do this now. So one of the key principles of BTT by transformation theory is that no one has the answer to what’s happening. , right now this pandemic, this economic collapse, what’s happening in your business and your family and your life. , what we can do and what BTT teaches us is to live the questions now and answer them through living them, through experiencing them fully and really bringing our whole selves to them. , and that’s a quote from the poet to Rena, Maria, real Chi live the questions now cause we’re not ready for the answers. We’re not there yet. We haven’t gone through the transformation journey. , and VGT is basically a way of engaging with the transformation, a journey that is being invited by every crisis, not just as big pandemic, any crisis, personal crisis, a financial crisis, health crisis losing your job crisis difficulty with your family at home crisis.
So during my explanation how we can engage with the pandemic where the Corona crisis pandemic please relate what I’m doing to what is relevant for you. Because BTT is agnostic. It doesn’t have any answers. , but it helps you ask and answer the questions for you where you are as a leader, as an individual in your sphere, the systems you touch with your life. , there are no silver bullets for the life. There were no silver bullets for personal life. There are no silver bullets for organizational futures or systemic futures. No one’s got the answer that you can go, Oh, great. I got, I’d if I just do this. , if you meditate and just do this, that will solve all your problems. If you have some kind of exotic healing that will solve all your problems. If you just think positively, if you, you do digital transformation, your business, if you use AI if we use socialism, no one’s got the answer because all those ideas from the past and we can use them and include them and, and reconstitute them and innovate with them.
But the future’s coming from the future. We haven’t lived it yet. , so we have to bring ourselves fully into presence with the future and allow the past and the future to interact within us. , and that gives birth from chaos breakthroughs that transform lives, really life changing and world changing breakfast. But just to finish off this vid, I’m going to share with you the seven gems of biotransformation theory and then, uh, we’ll start engaging in the full pandemic, uh, with the next video. So the first principle is the unified nature of our mind and our body. Not two things. One thing and deeper into this principle is the unified nature of our mind and our body with the universe, nature, life itself, a principle that many will know as non-duality things and not to the are some way one, and I’ll go further into all these, uh, in the future videos, the second principle in the two modes of consciousness of being that we will have access to.
And I’m going to share with you some really interesting stuff from the latest neuroscience of creativity of imagination. Uh, really latest latest stuff and how it touches fully into some of the great wisdom traditions around these two modes of consciousness that we get access to at any point. , the third is the principle of the third way and this basically says yes, there are two modes. There are two polarities, two extremes, love and hate, purpose and profit. , but the third way says that we can bring through ourselves as wise people as, as wise and transformational people as leaders. We can bring two polarities together and live them in a creative harmony, a what we call a Palin tonic harmony of two things where it’s not either or. It’s both. And, and this is not some kind of vanilla, beige central position. Uh, the compromises you’re actually going to a higher, uh, common factor between these two polarities in your third way.
And we’ll come back to that lots. The fourth principle are the four H’s are the four elements of every human experience. Every organizational moment has four H is involved in like splitting a complex reality into four pieces. We can get to change it better. , and those four H is just for you. For now, uh, our, our hands, which represent our behaviors, our actions. While it you could see if you video someone your head, uh, your beliefs, stories, narratives assumptions. , the third H is your heart, your emotional States, your feelings and getting more granular and a deeper range of emotions. And the fourth H is from a Zen term for our gut, for our sensational feelings. , right from our pelvic floor usually wrap to our throat.
The fifth principle is the five stages of human adult development. And I’ve been building on the work of many great thinkers like Piaget and Harvard Robert Kagan and others and adding a new one saying five stages of conscious development that we can go on to become more transformational. Uh, the six gem is the six spirals of engagement that every problem or, or challenge uh, invites us to do, starting right from ourselves, right? Moving out to systems, we spiral through these six steps or spirals. And the seventh gem is the seven steps of the transformation curve. Pathologize for my writing on boards, I was a teacher once in Africa using chalk and I never really cracked how to make it look beautiful. , I’m going to leave you with this last well on this last gen because every problem, every opportunity, every challenge, every crisis, every issue, every pain moment is a, a choice point between two paths.
I like the cation point. , am I gonna draw what I call the transformation curve here and we’re going to go deep into what this is and how it works and learning loads from it. , so here we realize something isn’t working isn’t good as pain, suffering challenge. And ideally we choose consciously to go on a transformation curve journey, which looks something like this. And I’ll explain more and more about it, uh, in future videos or we try and deny decline, disassociate, deny, uh, repress pretend it’s not there. Be right about it. Whether it’s be right from us spiritual platitude way it’s all good. Or whether it’s, uh, actually it’s not really a problem because, uh, we’re OK. we’re just gonna carry on doing what we did and try to get back to where you were. And I call that the breakdown to, and it looks better at the beginning because you start carrying on a little bit as well as the way things are, but soon declines pretty quickly.
Lack of fit with the world, lack of match with the world. And we get declined. We fade, we get symptoms of failure coming up, we underperform. , we suffer, we go into ever decreasing circles. And eventually we have a big old fail down there somewhere, which could be off suicide. , it could be the implosion of our business or our marriage. , and between the two, we have this transformation differential, which is the difference in outcome concrete outcome from us deciding whether to engage fully in transformation that’s being invited by the moment or deny repress, pretend, disassociate panic uh, and just try to not engage in transformation. So I think that’s all for me for this first video. , I hope it’s been a value already. You covered a lot of ground. I will go through all this again and much deeper and nuance all these different thoughts and ideas, but I wanted to set the scene for the future videos in this series and give you a sense of whether it’s worth frankly watching the rest. , so the next video will be about how to take stock in a crisis how to deal with shock. , what the appropriate response is to something that’s big and some practices and some mindsets we can use to start this transformation code, but not too quickly. Don’t want to stop busy adapting when we’re in shock, when we’re grieving, when we’re dealing with difficult emotions. , and we’ll come onto that in the next video.