CONSCIOUS CONSULTING: What it is, how it works and why it matters

Our world is changing exponentially on multiple levels simultaneously. We strongly believe we need to change the way we think and act in the field of leadership, business and society.  In 2020 we created the “Conscious Consulting Group” as a platform for developing, practicing, and offerings of Conscious Consulting. 

what is conscious consulting?

Conscious Consulting is a consulting approach focused on developing the consciousness of leaders, organizations, and social systems. We do this by creating a safe and inspirational space for leaders where they can – together – go deeper and beyond their usual day-to-day awareness. The very core idea is that everything we experience in our materialistic world is the result of our current state of consciousness.

The less developed the more disconnected, separated and hostile we feel and act upon that. The more profound access we have to who we are and how we act in the world, the more beneficial, healthy and effective we will be for ourselves and for the world. When leaders come to realize how their actions, thoughts and results are directly interconnected they often transform them instantly.

Doing so these leaders cultivate trust in their innate capacities which very naturally gives rise to new conclusions, allow new possibilities to emerge, and setting positive impact for the whole organization. That’s what we are here for.

You can also listen to this conversation on our Podcast

What is the essence of      Conscious Consulting?

It boils down to the simplest level of being human. The distinct approach might sound complicated and difficult, like you have to study Quantum Physics and Taoism to get to it, but boiling it down we are at the level of ultimate simplicity: it is about listening, caring for others, connecting with yourself, your fellow neighbor and the world, breathing with awareness.

How did the Conscious Consulting Group evolved?

Around 10 years ago it became clear to us that we are about hitting a wall: economically as well as ecologically and that those two domains were inseparably connected and inter twined – were accelerating the overwhelm and stress of humans.

Many of our clients felt exposed to that huge global wave of overwhelm, a seemingly new normal and were struggling between keeping up with the speed of a new era and at the same time stabilizing, playing in and according to the rules of an old paradigm of stability, predict and control.

Many people got sick, burned out, got replaced and the exploitation of human and natural resources continued – ever more effectively.

We clearly see that many of our colleagues feel the same way we do: they openly admit that they are aware of consulting having become part of the old paradigm of exploitation and separation.

One way for them to cope with that situation was to come up with all these Consulting buzzwords and trends like Agile, Purpose, Self-organizations, positive Leadership, New Work, you name them. But to many they seem superficial, more 

We see these trends are not designed to bring forth change but to stabilize the old paradigm of predict and control in modern, stylish and fancy designs, like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic rather than generating genuine and truly transformative impact.

So the key question for us was: What is the key to transformation that is more effective, sustainable, beneficial for the greater good and also even faster? We couldn’t afford years to move forward incrementally in order to move beyond today’s patterns.

We decided to step back from consulting a little bit.. by that time Julia left the partnership of a mid-sized Viennese Consulting Firm, we founded our own boutique consulting company continuing work with selected clients on transformation projects – but mostly we took time to explore, learn, develop further and research the changing world we live in.

Julia & Christian in Hong Kong

"We realized the world is messy, it is not clean and clear or in control."

Meeting with world-leading scientists and teachers of various wisdom-traditions just to find out that we were talking about similar qualities, maybe using different languages, followed by moving to San Francisco for 1,5 years researching with tech-leaders, learning about company cultures, attending retreats, traveling, studying with sages, deepening our own practices.

Deeper and deeper we got invested in the myriad questions of consciousness. Christian has been studying Buddhism, Zen and Advaita for most of his life so he already was very familiar with these topics. Julia took education in biofield tuning, a form of energy healing. Together we started to look at it from different perspectives. What did science tell us about it, what did wisdom traditions, philosophy and what was modern biology telling us?

Realizing that a whole new science, starting with quantum physics to biology, biogenetics to deep ecology meant a real game changer to us. All of a sudden bits and pieces seamless fit together which, for a long time seemed to be part of different universes, pointing towards what ancient wisdom traditions have known for and talked about for thousands of years: the world is not solid, everything is connected, always moving and the state of consciousness manifests as physical material world.

And it is messy, it is not clean and clear and in control, it just interacts and renews, reconfigures itself many times every second, everything is “dancing” together as the old sages have told us. The world seems to be a pulsating, vibrant, alive and unpredictable realm. And our need to control, predict and exploit we work against these basics laws of physics and thus creating chaos and destruction.

So striving for results beyond the limitations of the past of our clients asked for transforming the fields which bring forth “their worlds” rather than manipulating their old realities. Welcome to awareness, welcome to consciousness! The integration of everything we knew, learned and experienced into our consulting and advisory work was the next emergent move.

Robert, Julia & Christian in San Francisco

It was a phase of working with new approaches and different tools like “Not Knowing” (very unpleasant for consultants!), testing new waters and increasingly addressing with our clients what we truly believed in. We started talking more explicitly about topics like collective Consciousness, e.g. by publishing “Organizational Consciousness – a shortcut to transformation” in 2016. Over time we developed a sense of what is most effective and helps leaders deal with the challenges they had at hand.

5 years ago we founded our first company under the brand of N3XT together with Robert Thomas, former long-time president of the San Francisco Zen Center. We delivered Workshops and Key Notes in San Francisco, San Diego, Berlin, Hamburg and Vienna to present our ideas and models. We also offered retreats on “Presence” and started to publish articles and interviews to find out what resonates. We were overwhelmed by the positive feedback and level of interest, especially from our own colleagues in the consulting community. N3XT was a first experiment and as we left San Francisco and Robert moved on to another job it was a perfect first iteration.

It took a while to come up with CCG as we felt we needed to sharpen our messages and our approaches. The time has come to be more explicit, call it by its name and use the “difficult” yet transformative word “conscious”.

What did you do differently and how did clients respond?

We simply started to integrate our beliefs, learnings and insights explicitly in our work in business. It took courage sometimes as there always is that one fear: what will they think about you? Will they take us seriously any more? But nothing like this ever happened. Just the opposite. It felt like walking through open doors and a lot of openness and interest welcomed us. Our clients live in and share the same world, they already are aware that we cannot simply continue the old paddy ways and they can see and experience firsthand that old tools don’t work anymore. So seeing that there are new options given gently opened new possibilities. A lot had changed over the last decade regarding consciousness and its public reference. There is much more awareness and openness given today for these topics and trends like Mindfulness were helpful too.

And why, what is the purpose of all of that?

It is not about creating just another consulting firm. There are more out there than this planet deserves. Ultimately our purpose is to help bring forward a world that works for everyone, a YOU and ME world. We strongly believe in a business world where the economy serves societies and leaders come to the understanding that they are not at war in and against a hostile world but an integral part of one interrelated eco-system. When leaders come to that understanding it means that our world is not frightening any longer and its unpredictability is not a threat or a breakdown anymore but an opportunity to create a beneficial reality for the whole world, a world that works for everyone.

So, How does Conscious Consulting work?

We combine 3 dimensions: the dimension of outside and wider, of inside and deeper and the dimension of down to earth everyday business life.

Outside and wider: We need to look out and beyond our own industry and field to gain new insights about our world: we have a strong interdisciplinary approach and confront our clients with Quantum Physics, Holism, Zen, Native Wisdom, and Science. This helps to change, irritate and enrich our world views.

Inside and deeper: Pointing inside and deeper builds on the findings of many Wisdom Traditions and spiritual practices to connect with ourselves, our intuition, and innate wisdom. In a loud and hyper excited world it often is hard to find space for yourselves- that space we create for our clients.

Integration and immersion with everyday life and the practical questions of our clients regarding business, leadership, vision, and their organizations are the 3rd dimension in our practice. We don’t spare this out as this is exactly the place and moment where the rubber hits the ground.

Conscious Consulting in 3 steps

Step 1: Deepening Awareness. Our level of consciousness is a direct result of our capacity for inner and outer awareness, to look deeper and wider beyond the direct situation. Our work here is to create conditions for our clients to enrich their perspectives and look at situations from different levels and perspectives. May it happen through conversations, workshops, journeys, walks, actually any possible form. Seeing the old world through new and fresh eyes for almost everyone is relief.

Step 2: Creating new Possibilities. Looking differently one will see new possibilities and this is at the core of our work – finding solutions beyond the limitations of the past and the known. One core teaching of Buddhism is “Beginners Mind”. This means to look fresh, every single moment, free from preformed concepts. Seeing possibilities is essential and right at the core of any innovation.

Step 3: Making a Difference. We stay put with our clients while manifesting what they have seen, imagined and decided to follow up anew. A lot of skills are required, management skills, leadership skills and Personal Mastery. Impact goes well beyond results, we look at the wider space: be it physically or in time. We aim for impact that reaches wider and longer and it is a direct result of the state of consciousness and the intention someone has, while she or he is acting. The means always condition the end.

Who are your typical clients?

We are here for Leaders who feel that the old tools are not working anymore, who seek guidance in an overwhelming, confusing and unpredictable world. 

We work with a wide range of clients: from large corporations with 1000s of employees working globally to very small start-ups with just a few staff members. The industries range from Media to fashion Jewelry, Energy, Oil & Gas to Automotive but more and more we are working with organizations in the sector of sustainability with a strong focus on regenerative technologies as well as in the health sector.

We do pro-bono work for a human rights organization and another NGO working on inclusive education in the global south or Teach for All, an organization aiming to change our education system.

Not only do we look at WHAT our clients produce but strongly at the HOW and WHO they are, while they are going along their business, how they take on the responsibility or what we call the “precious opportunity” of leading others and creating impact for the world on a larger scale. We help leadership teams find their own and unique way and become part of the solution.

Do You have an example for a "conscious Business"?

For sure Patagonia is one of the companies which came to an understanding how they can be beneficial for themselves, their employees, their customers and the world.

They act and live from a deep knowing that we have 10 more years to act on climate change and that therefore they have to be climate positive – meaning they not only have to be climate neutral but add positively to the environment. Regenerative ecology is their core purpose and goal. Wow – that’s a purpose statement!

Not every company can be like Patagonia, but the question we ask our clients: Who do you want to be? How do you honor that precious opportunity of leading this organization? What is your contribution? What impact do you want to create for you, your team and for all of us?

Your claim is: “Transforming wisdom into impact” What does that mean?

There is an abundance of wisdom in this world from ancient wisdom traditions like Buddhism to contemporary science like Quantum Physics.

The future we are heading towards will ask for all our wisdom – internally and externally – our clear and open minds, caring hearts, innate intuition, our body intelligence to make good choices while facing very limited information, no predictability and fading solid grounds.

Our intention is to make this wisdom accessible and allow it to blend at the very point where it is needed most: where there are people who take big and relevant decisions having impact on many people and the collective environment.

One example is our work with Augusto Shantena Sabbadini, who perfectly represents the intersect of modern science, quantum physics and Taoism. Cutting edge in both disciplines he seamlessly blends the one with the other.

Listen To Shantena Augusto Sabbadini on our conscious Consulting Podcast

You call yourself Advisor rather than a consultant. Why is that?

Advisor expresses the form of consulting we offer in a much better way. Advisor includes the word “vis”, to see in Latin: we help our clients to see the world from different perspectives, through unusual lenses and with other means: to see with the mind, the eyes, the heart, with emotions, intuitions, with your body.

Advisory is not task-specific consulting – even though we provide all the expertise and even direct advice if we feel it is helpful – but to show what one might not see yet, pointing towards possible futures free from the limitations of the past.

How is CCG structured?

Our inspiration was a monastery. A mundane monastery, as we are not bound to spiritual practices only. On one side are the Teachings in the ACADEMY; a shared practice within the COMMUNITY followed by its expression in a business model to bring it into the world as CONSULTANCY practice. These 3 formats are of course interconnected and inspire and support each other. Consultancy is mainly pointing to Leaders and Businesses while the Academy and Community are pointing towards fellow Consultants and everyone in the business of guiding, leading, advising and supporting others.

How do you see the role of consultants?

Consultants can play a critical role in bringing forward a different consciousness and attitude: they are an amplifier, have leverage and some have a lot of influence on influential people, so they can be an accelerator for development. We think consultants are underestimated, sometimes not valued for who they are and what they can be: enzymes to transformation.

Many programs I have attended I felt that consultant are 2nd class participiants. Everybody was so focused on Leaders, Heads of HR, as they are potential clients. For us, Consultants are as important clients as leaders and experts. We are designing programs and offers exclusively for this target group, as we feel they are underserved and overseen in what they could and have to be.

How do you become a Conscious consultant? 

First of all there are already a lot of them us there, we are not alone. The problem is: many are dispersed, everyone doing her own thing as we often don’t fit in with larger brands or networks. To those, we offer a community and a larger body to be part of and like-minded colleagues to work with.

We address consultants who want to learn and integrate their own developmental and spiritual work with their work in a mundane world. If you look at our team, all of them represent an integrated and wholesome approach to work and life.

Conscious Consultants bring two preconditions: classical consulting-skills like facilitation, organization development, process design, etc. and on the other side are in line with our intention and purpose: people who also represent wisdom in an impactful way and feel the time has come for a different path in consulting.

In what ways can I participate in CCG?

Besides our Consulting, we offer programs, workshops and community events – designed to empower leaders and consultants to respond to their daily challenges with clarity and wisdom.

In our regular Community Meetup “Conscious Conversations”, we meet to explore what it means to be a conscious consultant, leader, and entrepreneur. Each conversation will look into a specific field of exploration. We invite you to listen to our Conscious Consulting Podcast and read our latest research on Conscious Consulting, you can also rewatch all our Community Meetups on Youtube.

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