THIRD WAVE PODCAST
Leadership and Psychedelics: Deepening Creativity, Compassion, and Communication
Dr. M.J. Jiaras
After pursuing his dream of performing as a jazz musician, M.J. Jiaras found his way into a doctoral program for psychology at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago. Ultimately, Dr. Jiaras entered the executive coaching space, where he has thrived as president and founder of Integrated Coaching Solutions for over twenty years as a consultant to Fortune 50 companies. In this episode of the Third Wave podcast, Dr. Jiaras talks with Paul F. Austin about his introduction to psychedelics and early career as a musician, his evolving methodology as an executive coach, different approaches to leadership, and the future of psychedelics in tandem with the executive coaching space.
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- M.J.’s early introduction to psychedelics with the Grateful Dead and making music.
- The similarities between making music for commercials and executive coaching.
- The importance of bringing play into executive coaching and leadership.
- What is “infotainment” and how it can keep team members engaged while learning.
- M.J.’s journey from working as a musician to becoming a clinical psychologist and then an executive coach (with no prior business experience).
- M.J.’s evolving methodology over 25 years of coaching.
- The fundamental attribution error and its relationship to self-awareness.
- How to close the gap between intention and impact.
- The effects of COVID on organizations and leadership.
- Reactive, creative, and integral leadership.
- Bringing plant medicines into leadership coaching.
- What M.J. learned from Third Wave’s Coaching Certification Program.
- The future of the psychedelic space in tandem with executive coaching.
0:00:00.0 Dr. M.J. Jiaras: I found that I was good at the system stuff with coaching and set the intention early on, that I’m gonna work with leaders, and I had never worked in business a day in my life, I was a musician, trained as a psychologist, so how is a banjo player gonna be in the boardroom? It’s like… [chuckle] Like people said, “No, you can’t do that.” And I’m like, “Why not?” And early on, I got an opportunity to work with some leaders that then were CEOs of big companies and have always been people have shared, you are bringing a perspective that’s very helpful to the work.
0:00:41.1 Paul F. Austin: Hey listeners, welcome back to Third Wave’s podcast. Today, I have a friend and a business confidant and future collaborator, M.J Jiaras in the house. M.J is an executive coach, motivator and cultural change expert who blends or who has blended his academic learning with 20 years of practical experience to help executives achieve rapid results in their quest for excellence. M.J customizes his approach to meet the needs of the individual or corporation, and adds his unique combination of enthusiasm, insight and humor to every session. Powerful executives in a diverse range of businesses, highly recommend his high impact presentations and training sessions. And M.J also holds a doctoral degree from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology, and is a graduate of the coaching training institute, as well as being a member of the International Coaching Federation and the American Psychology Association. That’s a lot of big words. M.J I’m glad that we could… We can make our way through it. Welcome.
0:01:47.1 DJ: Yeah. Yeah. Pleasure to be here, pleasure to be here.
0:01:50.9 PA: And the one thing I didn’t mention is that you are also an enrollee in our inaugural cohort for the Coaches Certification program, CCP, which we have recently launched at Third Wave, and that’s something that we’ll talk about a little later on in the episode. I don’t wanna just sort of lead with that ’cause there’s so much juicy stuff that we can flush out beforehand, and I think a good place to start because I know a little bit about your origin story is bring us back to M.J in the late ’70s, going to Grateful Dead shows, maybe doing a little mushrooms. Where were you at that point in your life, what was going on and what pulled you into what The Dead were creating as an experience?
0:02:33.2 DJ: So, and I think I’ve always wanted to play music since I was a little kid, and started playing music in a jazz program at our high school, and that’s when I really started playing when I was a freshman. And the jazz program was really good and it taught both how to play music in a big band setting and in an improvisational setting. And improv as The Dead had been very much influential, a lot of the jam bands of the ’70s, The Dead, the Almond Brothers, along with Miles Davis and Coltrane and Cannonball and all of those guys. It’s like, Here’s where you start and then you go off and you create and just love the sense of knowing how to play and then knowing how to create these two different things.
0:03:20.5 DJ: So The Dead were very much influential and first show in ’76 at the Auditorium Theater, and I actually got… I quit a job to go see them, I had tickets for them, and the guy was like, “Well, you can’t quit,” I’m like, “Well, I’m gone,” and I was sitting there and there was The Dead, and that experience, the bands that I… Were offshoot to the Jazz program, we turned into a bit of a jam band, and my early experiences with psychedelics were playing music, creating with a group of people and trying to recreate some of that ’60s experiences.
0:04:01.2 DJ: Some of my early experience or some of my profound experiences early on with that mix of music, creating in the moment, doing psychedelics and I didn’t do a ton, but I did enough to know that world and to understand, once you’re in that, possibilities and what you can create is very different than when you know, when you’re not in that space. And in some way, it set the trajectory for a path that is probably the… I took the path less taken or less chosen to get to today, I would say. So…
0:04:36.3 PA: The road less traveled.
0:04:38.0 DJ: There we go. That’s a better way of saying it. [chuckle] Thank you.
0:04:42.3 PA: As I think, that’s a Robert Frost quote and then M. Scott Peck wrote this book in the late ’70s. That was actually… That was the first book that I read in my path to personal development soon after I did acid for the first time. And that, that road less traveled, that’s what I wanna weave into the follow-up, which is from an external perspective, you’re a clinical psychologist, you’re now an executive coach for Fortune 50 companies. We’ll post a link to your website in the show notes, it’s pretty buttoned up and formal and credentialed. You’re also a fellow Midwestern. You have a main residence just outside Chicago, you also have a house in Michigan, which representing… I love that vibe as well. And I also know you as a person, so I kinda know where this is leading. But just to sort of continue to open up who you are as a person to our listeners. How did those early experiences with The Dead and with jazz and with improv, how of those shaped the way that you’ve shown up as an executive coach in a more sort of credentialed, formal setting and environment?
0:06:00.3 DJ: I would say through the music journey, what is probably most analogous to coaching was when I… And I was in bands and toured and made records and CDs when that was before everything was more digitized. Well, I had lots of… I had many jobs to support my music habit as the way it felt, but when I went back to grad school, I started playing on jingles. And playing on jingles is probably… I played on hundreds of commercials to kinda work my way through grad school. And it’s most analogous to coaching in that you need to show up, you need to know how to play, and then you look at what’s needed on the film and come up with ideas. It’s not about me playing, it’s how do I create something that is in the spirit of what’s needed, will resonate with people when they hear it, and then if it resonates and the client then ultimately gets to choose which track they wanna use, and if it resonates with them, then it gets on the air and that’s more what you would… You’d rather be on the air then just on the cutting room floor, if you will. So that is similar to coaching where you show up, music has been a great teacher. How do I listen? How do I create? How do I let go off that idea? What’s the next idea?
0:07:16.9 DJ: How that kind of alchemy of the moment, if you will. How do you understand that? How do you know how to play with it and ultimately, forward a conversation where it is of value to the person that you are, that’s on the receiving end of whatever you’re creating. I was doing some work with a company and it was a fairly significant engagement around the culture change at the top of… With the senior team. And it was the first… We had two day off-site and I was trying to figure out… So with any team, it’s when you can… You could be with them a whole day and there may be one or two moments that actually, if you can figure out what’s going on, put a voice to it and create a kind of resonance around it, it has great meaning for the…
0:08:06.0 DJ: In this organization, I was talking about some concept and someone asked one idea, and I’m like, “Yeah, that’s interesting”. And then someone said, “Yeah, what about this idea?”. And at the end of three comments, I had no idea what we’re talking about. And I felt like I was on a ship just spinning the wheel, and I’m like, “I just have to tell you all, I have no idea what we’re talking about anymore. And is this common?” And someone said, “Yeah, it’s kind of like in the movie Up, where it’s like squirrel! Squirrel!” We’re always just going to the next thing, and it’s a way of not addressing what’s going on in the moment.
0:08:40.0 DJ: So this became kind of a metaphor and the CEO ended up… And when we came back from the retreat, he would bring to his meetings the Up Dog, so he got a stuffed animal, the Up Dog, he put it in the center of this big conference table and then had a bag of little squirrels. And if someone started getting tangential, he would literally throw a squirrel at them and [chuckle] it’s something that really helped this team to get more focused, more intentional. I worked with them, I think three and a half or four years ago. The leadership team, a year later, we had done some assessments. They had made significant positive change through metrics, that Engagement Survey that just happened to coincide with the engagement that I had done and done with another coach as well, and they were at 100, today they’re at 600 so they’re stuck.
0:09:33.5 DJ: So it’s certainly, and leading better that you could say there’s many other factors that played in, but I would say being a better leadership team and knowing how to work in a more focused, intentional way, allowed them to be a much more effective company and to grow in a way that was pretty significant. And it was fun. So we’d get together and squirrels are flying around and it wasn’t all heavy and, you know, you need to do this or that, there was a playful way of being more effective.
0:10:06.3 PA: Which seems to be central to leadership, the more that I, even as the CEO of Third Wave, of just the small company, the more levity and playfulness and fun you can bring into a work dynamic or a work environment, the easier and more flowy things seem to become because there’s not as much attachment to, let’s say, the outcome. And there’s more of a focus on how are we just being present with the moment and enjoying it? And so often, we’re sort of conditioned to think that work needs to be difficult, we need to sacrifice for it, it has to be stressful, it has to be challenging and while that is certainly true at times, it really is a mindset shift in many ways to be able to choose to open up to something that’s just not so difficult in anyways.
0:10:52.8 DJ: Yeah. And I would say that there’s the energy when coaching, when working with teens especially. I call it infotainment. There’s a way where you’re sharing information, you’re engaging them, but it’s also kind of, are you in there where people are feeling like they’re engaged and they’re playing in some ways? And I recently did a retreat with… First it was the senior team and then 40 people in a room, and someone pulled me aside and said, “Man, you’re making this fun. It’s really great that you’re sharing information, but it was fun being together.” And I think people remember what they feel more than what they hear and know. So if they feel engaged in the experience of being with others, as well as learning something in the process, I think that has a much better chance of integrating into a place of sustainable change.
0:11:49.0 PA: So let’s track your story a little bit more, ’cause I’m really curious from that first Grateful Dead concert in 1976 until graduate school, and writing the jingles that you wrote, and to now being… I know you were a body worker for some time, I know you’ve also been a clinical psychologist. Just bring us a little bit more into that thread for you. How have you worn so many different hats in your career, and how has each one sort of led into the next?
0:12:17.2 DJ: Yeah. Well, I think a lot of it has been driven by this sense of, What do I wanna create? How do I wanna engage with the world? And coming out of college and I had gone from… I was in Boulder for a couple of years, and then this band that I was in, we all went to Madison to study with this famous jazz bassist, Richard Davis, just a cool, cool dude, man. He was awesome. And from there, then we came to Chicago and quickly were playing the scene and got a record deal not too soon after that, and kinda chasing the dream of being in a band, creating music, impacting people, and it’s really hard to make a living in that world. So it felt like through that, and that was from ’83 to ’91. And we toured the country, Radio City, MTV, The Today Show, played with lots of big bands, it was awesome stuff, right? But in between gigs, it’s not like sitting around, practicing pays the rent. So I was that starving musician who was… I was a waiter, and I think that’s the best job to train for life, of any job I’ve ever had. I get to work with people, the kitchen, the timing, all of that stuff, so I also worked in production in making commercials, so I was a PA.
0:13:38.6 DJ: I was asked to be in commercials, so I did a little acting. I met someone who was a body worker and I was really interested in body work and I kind of apprenticed with this person and found that laying out of hands is very… That it’s a system in the body. And one of the things that I think, if there’s anything that I’m good in, is seeing and understanding systems. So as a body worker, I would just lay my hands on people and be like, “Well, there’s too much heat here. Not enough heat there”, and sometimes places where there is heat, you don’t even touch that ’cause if you do that, there’s too much, so you balance people’s bodies and help them to get integrated and I learned about body armoring and things along those lines, and did energy work and things as well. And what I found was that when working with people, if they come back a few weeks later, they would re-armor up. And it was more related to more core issues and that led me to… If it would be easier… Body work is hard if you’re doing it hour after hour. It’s very physical, and it may be more helpful to work with people at what’s the core that’s driving this armoring versus just trying to re-integrate the armor.
0:14:54.2 DJ: So that led me back to graduate school, I got a Master’s in counseling and then a doctorate in Health Psychology, and was always interested in the mind-body connection and love, neuro-psych and all of that, and started in the program I was in, which was a professional program, less research and much clinical work. I was in a hospital one year and I knew that I never wanted to be in a hospital again, that’s not my thing. And I worked as a therapist, and I also felt like, this is a little depressing. People never come to therapy ’cause they’re happy, [chuckle] and I’m a little bit of a happy guy. So it was great work, but I was also looking how can I have a bigger impact with systems? So I started doing some stress management stuff in corporate setting, I met a guy that had a program that was looking at exercise, family and executive coaching, that was my entrée into executive coaching in the mid to late ’90s, and I found that I was good at the system stuff with coaching and set the intention early on, that I’m gonna work with leaders, and I had never worked in business a day in my life, I was a musician, trained as a psychologist, so how is a banjo player gonna be in the boardroom? It’s like… [chuckle]
0:16:15.7 DJ: Like people said, “No, you can’t do that.” And I’m like, “Why not?” And early on, I got an opportunity to work with some leaders that then, were CEOs of big companies and have always been people have shared, you are bringing a perspective that’s very helpful to the work. So those are some of the… And I have had lots of other jobs along those music years, but it’s always been… And this started, I think, from the early years and playing music and doing psychedelics, it’s like seeing possibility versus seeing obstructions. I’ve never really seen the obstructions or the challenges, getting in the way of exploring what is possible. And then with that exploration, figuring out ways to be generative in those possibilities, to add value for others.
0:17:10.2 PA: I love that. And so when it comes to the executive coaching that you’ve done over the last 25 years, how has your methodology evolved throughout the last couple of decades in terms of the way that you approach the work, the way that you work with clients? Like how was your own approach and understanding of it growing there?
0:17:30.3 DJ: Yeah. That’s a good question. Well, I’ll work backwards maybe, and I would say… And this is with anything when you’re doing it… When you haven’t done it a lot. How do you know how to do it? [chuckle] You just kinda try and do your best. And I think there’s research. I’ve seen research recently, around guitar players, because very few guitar players know how to read music. They know how to read people as a way of playing music. So the intuitive part of the brain or some of the intuitive part seem to be very highly developed because paying attention to body language, different things, timing, breath, all of those things, as a musician, you’re cueing in on ’cause you don’t know how to read the notes on the page. And me and some other guitar players in the studio, if they put lead lines, like to read the music, it’d be like One E and [chuckle].. Whereas our players are just like…
0:18:32.0 DJ: They can just run through it ’cause that’s what they’ve done, so I think that there’s an intentional… Right now, it’s very much helping people to get clear on what is your intention? What are you trying to create? What are the choices you’re making? Are they aligned with that intention or not? And the only way you can tell that, is through looking at the impact you’re creating in the world. With others, in an organization, and this is just really for anybody, it’s not just in business, it is…
0:19:01.0 DJ: And I don’t think I was as clear early on in a sense of really understanding what that intention is. I used to call it a North Star, but that felt a little blurry. And then when your impact and the things… And if you wanna see your… You can create an intention and you make choices, the impact is often seen in the eyes of others. So you choose the first two, the impact is what you create.
0:19:27.6 DJ: And if you are self-aware and wanna learn and grow, seeing the disconnect between my impacts and my intention can be a very rich place of growth and exploration. Because I get my intention, but somehow the choices I’m making, there may be some other hidden intention that’s going on, or some other reactive tendency that… While I’m trying to be helpful or trying to be, whatever it may be, my intent is my choices may be, “I’m not doing that at all.” And if I look at what I’m creating, it’s like, I can see there’s an opportunity to learn. That this gets into… And I’m sure you’ve heard of the fundamental attribution error, if you know what that is.
0:20:18.2 PA: I’ve heard of it, but it’d be worth explaining it to the audience, I think.
0:20:23.2 DJ: If I am late, you will think that it’s character-logical. I’m always late. If you are late, you’ll say it was traffic or that a meeting ran over, and you will say that it’s circumstantial and blame it away. And so people tend to look at, if I have created an impact that is not aligned with my intention, the easy thing to do is just blame it on stuff.
0:20:47.8 DJ: If you are gonna be more self-aware, you look at you’re creating all of this, you’re making those choices and that’s… It’s harder, it’s much harder work, it’s easier to just blame the traffic for being late. It’s like… I don’t know if you’ve noticed there’s only bad drivers when you’re late, and that’s because…
0:21:07.6 PA: It’s why I bought a Tesla so I could just go around all the bad drivers.
0:21:11.3 DJ: [Overlapping speech] Kind of a bad driver itself.
0:21:12.0 PA: It makes it a little easier… Exactly. Yeah.
0:21:13.5 DJ: So that sense of self-awareness… I think I’ve worked with people earlier in my career, but I’ve found a way to help that culturally with cultures changing and leaders impacting larger systems within their organizations. Early on, I think I was better probably one-on-one and helping people one-on-one, and not understanding the dynamism of each system. And early coached somebody into a buzzsaw where, who they were, where they wanted to be rebellious in a culture that didn’t support it.
0:21:50.3 DJ: So they were… I was helping them to be more authentic, and they authentically got fired. I’m not psychic. You have to understand the system as well… And if you don’t like the system then change the system you’re in.
0:22:06.1 PA: And I think a few points that come up in that, one is, intention is also important in a psychedelic experience. As we talked about in CCP and as I’m sure you’re just aware of generally, like how we prepare the energy that we go into the experience with, the integration process as well. Like that matters a lot. And yet, typically, for most folks who are going into a psychedelic experience, the intention is almost always just personal.
0:22:36.2 PA: And if it’s something beyond a personal thing, it’s more like my relationship with my spouse or my relationship with my parents, or my relationship with my family, or my kids. It’s not usually around huge systemic organizational elements. And what I know about your work is the work that you’re doing is… And what you’re talking about here is, how do we close the gap between intention and impact?
0:23:03.3 PA: Because the larger that gap is, the more it becomes magnified as the impact has the downstream ripple effects. And so that leadership role, then is really critical in terms of the awareness that that leader is cultivating. Because if they’re off, just let’s say a 10th of a degree, well, you follow that all the way to its end, and the company is on another continent or in another industry, or their stock price is tanking, or whatever the sort of longer term impact might be.
0:23:37.3 DJ: And one of the things I think that also I’m aware of and done a fair amount of researched this, is how we approach change as humans. And it hurts the brain to change, so literally it’s harder. We have… There’s a book Thinking Slow, Thinking Fast. I forget the author’s name.
0:24:01.3 PA: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman?
0:24:01.4 DJ: Yeah, yeah. That’s it.
0:24:03.0 PA: The Israeli guy?
0:24:03.6 DJ: Yeah. And it talks about when you think about change, we have somewhere between around 15% of our mental capacity in a day to focus on change… If I’m tired, if I’m stressed, if things are coming at me that quickly depletes. So as you look at creating change in a positive way, in an intentional way, and know that you don’t have a huge resource in the way the mind approaches things… So you have to be very targeted and think about, how do I start to create something that stacks positive change with a positive change.
0:24:41.6 DJ: And it often can be more discombobulating in the front end, when you let go of what you know and don’t yet know how to do what is a more effective way of doing things. And in the coaching process, I’ve had people call up and say, “You just totally fucked me up. I’m not gonna do that anymore, but I don’t know what to do now.” And I’m, “Fantastic. That’s the energy that will sustain change.” It’s easy for me to say it’s fantastic, but I know the longer game.
0:25:12.7 PA: I’ve been there. It’s not a fun place to be is, and a way of getting coached. It’s that liminal space between the known and the unknown. And there’s a really great quote by Richard Rohr, who I think is like a priest or something, or a Zen guy, or something like that… That perfectly encapsulates that liminal space. Because to grow and to change and to evolve, we have to let go of who we’ve been in the past, and yet to let go of who we’ve been in the past is a very raw undertaking. And it can often leave less exposed in ways that we haven’t been exposed before.
0:25:44.5 DJ: I’m just in the middle of a culture change process with an organization. And we did it through COVID, which in some ways was… There was a new leader, and there was some tension around going from a more paternalistic culture to a much more entrepreneurial culture where people were encouraged to think about how they create value, think about how they work with their clients, all this kind of stuff.
0:26:11.3 DJ: And it created… We did an engagement survey that… And I’ve never seen a worse engagement survey like a year into it. And there was people that left. Now, six months past that they have got through the valley of this liminal space, and people are getting it. They needed to communicate more effectively. They’ve done it. They had bits and pieces, so they had to create a narrative that was… That people could understand.
0:26:40.2 DJ: But now there’s an excitement that’s really palpable. And some people who didn’t wanna change, they just wanna be told what to do, didn’t like to change. And there was a bit of a… Some people just left the organization and they probably should have. They were not well suited. But that’s, in some ways, when you’re looking at culture change, it’s really hard, and there is that discontent sometimes as you’re asking people to move towards a more intentional place.
0:27:09.2 PA: Well, it’s like the seasonality of things… The fall, the winter, the spring, and the summer. Organizations also go through seasonality. Individuals go through seasonality. That contrast is what creates excitement and sort of an energy that you can come into the world with. And sometimes things need to die for whatever needs to be born.
0:27:32.3 DJ: Yeah. So true. So true.
0:27:37.4 PA: So one element that you I think are very well versed in that I really would like our listeners to better understand… Especially from a leadership perspective, this is something that I just started reading about earlier this year in 2021. There’s a phenomenal book called Mastering Leadership, which really encapsulated what I thought was… They just did a phenomenal job of encapsulating that intersection between awareness and leadership and how that then is brought into an organization.
0:28:07.9 PA: And I would love for you to just give our listeners sort of an overview of reactive to creative, to integral leadership. Just sort of an overview of that. And then once we have an overview of the I’ll sort of ask a couple of follow-on questions about how that’s been… How you’ve brought that into the work that you’re doing in Fortune 50 companies and major, major, major organizations.
0:28:28.7 DJ: So this is a process that is baked into a 360 assessment. So there’s lots of tools out there to help people gain awareness. And the thing that I like about this tool, which ties to the book, which is the theory behind how they created this tool, is looking at basically, in business, they’ve… And they have this left and right in polls is, there’s a sense of you need to relate to people well, and you need to task. You need to get shit done.
0:28:58.8 DJ: So those are two things. And you can do that in a way that is more creative, coming from a place of authenticity, self-awareness, understanding systems, knowing how to get things done and relating. Or you can get a task done by trying to control it. You’re autocratic, you’re driven, your perfectionist. Things along those lines. You grind through people, and you still get tasks done. That’s on the reactive side.
0:29:24.8 DJ: So if you think of a water line, the creative is above the water line and how you relate to people and task. And then on the relationship side, you can comply and just be conservative, you can just… Pleasing… You can do things that allow people… I was more this way early on and just… I was a happy-go-lucky guy that just wanted to fit in.
0:29:46.8 DJ: And that’s a way of relating, but it’s not a creative way, it’s more I’m reacting to systems and figuring out how to fit in through my reaction to it. Versus thinking, what do I wanna create in a relationship and using more of an intention, if you will, to say, “I’m gonna relate to people through fostering team play, through interpersonal intelligence, through compassion, through play,” all those types of things are more a…
0:30:16.0 DJ: The research has shown… And they’ve researched this a ton. If you’re a creative leader, the ROI is really significant. And they have one particular score called the leadership effectiveness score, that if you’re above an 80 your ROI, as leader is a multiple of six. If you’re below 80 it’s a multiple of 0.5.
0:30:36.8 DJ: So as they’ve looked at how this relates to business… And this is a business tool, but it’s the best tool I’ve found in terms of adult development in business… And where the energies are interesting, that if you are trying to get tasks done in a more controlling manner, there’s energy across the wheel which impacts relationships. So if you’re controlling, you will probably be low in the creative area of relationship ’cause you’re grinding through people. If you’re complying, you probably will low in how you’re getting things done.
0:31:11.5 DJ: So there’s a real synergy in this circle. And then there’s a place where if you’re authentic, you will have courageous authenticity. So you’ll be able to say what needs to be said in the moment, and then a sense of integrity. So that’s the third wheel, and that’s on the top side. And you don’t get to say you’re courageous. You are courageous through your actions that people feel.
0:31:36.8 DJ: And integrity is not something that you say, “Ah, I have integrity.” Rather than you do things that are out of integrity and it’s like… So it’s… Again, that’s not for you to choose. And then on the bottom side of this, the middle wheel, which relates to that… Of the North Pole on this thing is about protecting. And the protecting is basically, “I don’t wanna share. I feel vulnerable.” And it’s kind of protecting your heart.
0:32:02.2 DJ: One… The controlling piece to get tasks done is more about, will. This is about heart, and the other one is about fitting in. So people that are more protective will… They’ll be critical. So anyone who’s a critique is keeping distance ’cause you don’t know what I feel… You just know what I think. You could be distant, so you don’t know what I’m feeling. I’m just gonna check out. So there’s different ways you can do this.
0:32:27.1 DJ: So it’s a very dynamic model. The research has found like 60% to 70% of people are reactive. So when something happens, I don’t choose, I just react to it. And this ties to Thinking slow, thinking fast… I’m just reacting ’cause it’s easy. If you can do the work to get to the creative side, that’s something where there’s 30%… 25%, 30%, 40%. I don’t know it depends on an organization. That are coming from this place.
0:32:58.5 DJ: And those leaders tend to get more out of people, get more done, they know how to delegate and help people to empower people to learn and grow.
0:33:08.4 DJ: Then there’s this integral leader which if you have learned to be a creative leader, then you dive into the reactive side, which is to look at your shadow side. So where is my shadow showing up? So I can not only be a creative leader, but in some ways you start to evolve further in who you are and how you engage in a way that ties more to the spiritual, ties more to the greater community and things along those lines.
0:33:37.4 DJ: So those are few and far between. But when you see them, it’s awesome. And the other thing that’s really cool about this tool is it’s a 360, so you have your own perception. You take the test and you see how you see yourself, and then you see how your boss sees you, you see how your direct see you, you see how your peers see you, and then you have another group. So you can see that in different places some people will be really good with their bosses and terrible with their teams.
0:34:08.0 DJ: Other times they’re great with their teams but don’t know how to manage up. So it really then gets into this area where you start to realize some of the patterns that you’ve set up earlier in life to be successful have probably hit a half life where they’re no longer serving you in the way they need to. And then evolving to that next place is for those that are able to do that and do the work and stick to it and sustain that effort and keep learning and growing to keep evolving up.
0:34:42.9 PA: So the obvious follow-up question to this then is how… You went through CCP and went through that three-month program, you’ve now done some of your own individual work with some of these medicines, and I’m curious to hear just from your perspective, with how familiar you are with the master and leadership framework, going from reactive, to creative, to integral… And now how familiar you are with plant medicine and some of those things. What’s your take on how psychedelic use can help a leader progress through from reactive, to creative into potential integral.
0:35:21.2 DJ: And great question. And I’m still learning so that this is part of… There was a big break of decades between my exploration and learning about the medicine. So the CCP… Michael Pollan’s book, seeing him on 60 Minutes two years ago was this journey that as a psychologist, I dove into the research. And the research in mental health is compelling. My interest is more in transformation and growth… But the compelling part of the mental health piece, I think has made it easier to… It’s been more consumable by the public.
0:36:05.2 DJ: The cover of Newsweek, the cover… It feels like everyone’s… More and more is coming out everyday. So I think that depending on where you are in the journey… Say that you’re more in a reactive place, my understanding is that for people when using the medicine, they have a relationship with the reactivity where it can change it in a way that is profound, it is sustainable and it is something that allows them to see possibility in the way that you can’t when you’re always reacting to these other energies.
0:36:44.1 DJ: So some people have this experience where they feel like they’ve done some work through their journey, that feels like it frees them up. So to me that is kind of that reactive space, whether it’s how you relate to people… It could be something with a parent, it could be something… How you started out at work, or it could be some trauma that happened to you that you be more protective. You can re-orient that in a way that feels like with the neuroplasticity and the way that the brain can reorganize… It feels sustainable.
0:37:18.1 DJ: It doesn’t feel like it is something that is temporal. So that’s something I’m still learning about is the sustainability. So from the reactive side, it feels like you have… You could be freed from some of these shackles, if you will, that keep you in the reactive space, that allow you to evolve up to the creative space. So is there a question on that before I go to the creative space?
0:37:45.0 PA: Maybe just a couple of comments. I don’t know if I’ve talked at length about Robert Fritz on the podcast before, but he is best known for writing this book, The Path of Least Resistance, and talks about the creative orientation, it’s a book we read as part of CCP. And I remember when I read The Path of Least Resistance for the first time about a year ago, a little over a year ago, what came to mind was, Oh, this is precisely how I felt after doing psychedelics in that I felt as if although external circumstances occur, that they don’t hold as much relevance or power over my ability to create as I thought they did, because when you have that psychedelic experience, there’s a sense of radical responsibility where you realize that you are largely responsible for creating your own reality, and that within that you then have a choice to change that as long as you can execute on sort of the integration or the follow-through in terms of what you actually need to shift and change.
0:38:47.6 PA: And that’s again, where psychedelics can be helpful because they help with that behavioral change. Oftentimes, the ego or the personality or trauma, whatever that is, keeps us rigid and sort of stuck in old patterns. And the opening with psychedelics, the opportunity with psychedelics is that they actually physiologically make it way more possible to change who we are, so to say.
0:39:11.6 DJ: And another piece with the Fritz book that I think is interesting, which relates to this, is when you set up these two beliefs that don’t work together, which you could just look at politics today, it’s talking about the same thing, it’s as if this is completely different information. When you have these two beliefs like I can’t do this, or I can do this, I can only do this, you create conflict, and conflict is not an energy that resolves according to Fritz. What it does is it brings you to this vanilla in the middle between these two things that don’t really work versus this other side. And that would be more of the reactive, I need to do it this way or that. And ultimately, your optimization, your effectiveness is kind of vanilla. If you understand there are these different energies, but this is where I wanna go, this kinda north star, this intention, and I understand that there’s a process that will be a journey, that creates tension versus conflict.
0:40:12.4 DJ: Tension is a healthy energy to sell needs enough tension on some level to feed itself, tension used in a positive way is a necessary ingredient for positive growth. So as you move up, you’re realizing in the creative, there’s still tension, it’s not that it’s easy, but you’re setting it up as this experience where you can continue to grow versus these two dialectics that don’t work and you just kind of find this vanilla in the middle and you stay stuck in the reactive.
0:40:45.9 PA: And a good example of this is even the way music is played it. If anyone here has been to a Dud show or a Fritz show, or has waited to let the beat drop, so to say, a huge element of music and rhythm versus harmony is holding that tension to a point until it put…
0:41:06.2 PA: And that’s where the euphoria often comes from when we’re listening to music or playing music.
0:41:12.3 DJ: One of my COVID projects has been learning to play jazz, and it’s really about understanding the language, knowing where you’re going, and then choosing a journey, which is through this path of how much tension do you wanna create, do you know how to land the tension? So it’s easy to create tension, but if you don’t know where to go with it, that’s the art of how do you use that kind of juice of friction in a way to create heat to make positive change. And those are the things, some of the jam bands that are just awesome. When they release, it’s just euphoric.
0:41:55.9 PA: Fantastic. So we were talking about reactive to creative, guide us a little bit more than creative to integral what would be the relevance of potentially the plant medicine or psychedelics in that?
0:42:09.6 DJ: I think where plant medicine can help in the creative is, now, you’re not necessarily doing the work of the reactive in an experience, but you’re looking at how can I be in this creative space in a way that feels connecting to something that’s higher than you, some of these ways that feel more transpersonal, feels like a portal into the integral, and it’s a way where you feel letting go of the ego, turning off the default mode network to make all these connections. Those are the things that are probably in that creative space where you feel like you can cross over to the integral. The challenge is and the opportunity is when you’re coming back from those experiences, what are the things you integrate in a creative way that help you to live the life you want in a way that is tied to something that probably is larger than just you.
0:43:10.2 PA: Which is what we were talking about before, this discrepancy between intention and impact and how you as a coach are coming into leadership teams to help minimize that discrepancy, so to say.
0:43:22.8 DJ: And/or learn when you’re there, it’s like, if I wanna get to this place that feels… And recently, just coming back from a journey that felt like it really has this mystical kind of other worldly change who I am, and then I come back and I’m staring at the same guy in the mirror, it’s like, “Hey, am I the same or different?” And what are the ways I integrate in to try and keep this part of how I set intentions, how I make choices, the impact I create in the world. And there’s a lot of work that’s involved in that. And this is where music has been really, really helpful, is to be a player, you gotta work the craft, and you have to learn the language, and there’s a lot of time, energy, desire, working through those stumbling blocks to get to a place where you feel like you can start to play, and then go on to play and see what happens when you play and what happens. And is it something where you’re just playing or you do have this alchemic moment where it’s like there’s a connection which is something with the crowd, with the band, with the other musicians, with what’s possible in music and it can be just unbelievably awesome.
0:44:39.4 DJ: But you gotta do the work, it doesn’t just happen because I had one good gig, it’s like… You can get lucky, but if you wanna be a player, you gotta work the craft to being a player. And that’s something I really believe.
0:45:00.8 PA: As a way to tie this together with what you just went through with CCP, with what you’re now learning about psychedelics, how did the coaching certification program help you to start to learn sort of the craft or the skill of the psychedelics?
0:45:19.9 DJ: Well, I thought it was really well laid out in terms of understanding the history and the legality, the power of the medicine, how it impacts the neurology, how the different compounds. So it really felt like we were working the craft and learning. So I think without a base of knowledge, some people can be intuitive and some people are very good with that. The program really expanded my base of knowledge, in addition, plugged me into a community that has been so great and awesome. And everybody, when we all got together, it was… We all just… I think you picked a group that had a natural alchemy or synergy together. And then from our program, which ended a month ago and our experience together was two or three months ago, there’s different people that are finding the way that we work together, the way we think, the way we wanna support each other. I think there’s groups that are working how to create offerings that will be an extension of the work that CCP helped us to understand better, and then we’ll be out there as… The greatest work for me is this kind of as an integrationist.
0:46:43.0 DJ: The experience is the experience, and it can be awesome, it can be challenging, it can be… Most people would say it’s amazing and oftentimes, life-changing. But then how to take that experience and not have it be something that is disruptive, it can be disruptive to come back and have this amazing experience and not know how to plug back into your life and start to use some of those concepts I’ve talked about in coaching, how do you change your intention, what do you wanna create, and how do you start to align a lot of little choices to align that experience you connected with, which is amazing with the life that you start to live. So CCP was foundational for me in providing a lot of that craft work as well as some of the magic in the medicine.
0:47:37.4 PA: With the retreat itself, ’cause we did do a… Not like a heroic mega, mega dose, but we did a reasonable dose level and a proper ceremonial format. And I think that… It’s something I’ve talked about in the podcast before, and it’s worth reiterating. What I believe to be true is as this space grows and develops, there’s a sense of as above so below. In other words, the practitioners, the coaches, the therapists, the medical doctors, the psychiatrists, the people who were at the front line of this, who were really holding the space for other individuals to move into that liminal space, ’cause psychedelics really open up that liminal space in many ways, shapes and forms. I think it behooves a lot of those facilitators or coaches to actually go through the experience themselves. It’s difficult, it’s difficult to help people with psychedelics if you haven’t actually walked the territory.
0:48:36.8 PA: And I find that that, with CCP, just from the spot of the creator who was really responsible for developing this, what I really wanted to bring to life was a program that challenges the coaches who enroll to level up their understanding and their game through the work with psychedelics while concurrently, then because of the leveling up, having more capacity and presence and gravitas to go back out into the world to help guide other folks through a similar process, so to say.
0:49:15.5 DJ: And that experiential awareness tied with kind of didactic learning. I think both of those things are important. A therapist that hasn’t been in therapy, it’s the same kind of thing. It’s like bottom therapy, in fact. So everyone needs to look in the mirror if you’re gonna be working with people looking in the mirror. And so if you’re gonna be working people with medicine, you have to understand how the medicine can change and evolve what is possible in the moment so you could be there to serve people as they have those experiences, to think about how it can serve them in life, how it can enhance their life, how it can create clarity. And for me, more play and fun. So my ethos with a lot of this has been more play and engagements allows life to feel more interesting.
0:50:11.8 PA: And it’s a great launching pad for my next question or sort of point of discussion, which I would love to end the podcast with, which is how do you see these two worlds coming together in the coming year, two years, three years? I’m happy to talk back and forth with you about this ’cause we’re actually working on a little fun project ourselves that we’ll bring to life in the coming months. But yeah, I’d love to hear how you’ve been in the executive coaching space, you’ve worked with Fortune 50 companies, some of the most powerful leaders in the world, you also… You are a musician, you’re very familiar with altered states of consciousness, you’ve trained in integral leadership and the leadership profile circle and mastering leadership. How do you sort of see these worlds coming together to facilitate systemic change with organizations?
0:51:05.8 DJ: Well, I think it’s for a subset of leaders, just because it feels cutting edge. I sense that what we’re working on may not be little, but it could be a big program. But right now, it may feel little. And we were talking a little bit earlier today around this program, and the one thing with leadership, I think with good, especially CEOs, the biggest challenge is how do you deal with ambiguity. So how do you lead organizations, how do you understand what’s going on, which as a CEO, you don’t fully understand what’s going on underneath an organization. You get information up that sometimes is distilled, so it doesn’t smell, and sometimes it does have a stank and it’s…
0:51:52.3 DJ: So is this accurate information? Then there’s things with markets, with the streets, all these different things that are happening and leaders have to be able to work effectively, not knowing and to trust their instincts or intuition, pattern recognition, all those types of things. So as I look at this possible interface of… Or this not possible, this interface of leadership and psychedelics, it may allow people leaders to see possibilities that would help them to deal with the space of leading, whether it’s leading people, which tends to be one of the hardest things for leaders, how to lead more compassionately.
0:52:37.1 DJ: It could be how to think more creatively, and the Internet, and you’re much more well-versed in understanding some of the things that have come out of the ways that our society has been changed through people, leaders who use psychedelics. It’s for those that are looking to be on the cutting edge. How do I think a new thought? How do I continue to evolve as a leader and grow? How do I push the envelope where I can get comfortable? CEO, seven years in, there’s research they kinda tap out as they’re comfortable, but not necessarily pushing the envelope. So someone that’s a more tenured CEO, this could be a way of opening up possibility that they never saw, they couldn’t have seen any other way.
0:53:24.6 DJ: There’s a potential risk which we’ll see if is a risk is, if you are thinking differently, does that change the way you think today? My experience is it gives me access to new thought, it doesn’t change me in a way where I still can’t think the way I think. So as I’ve come back to my life, it’s still my life and I can engage. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been in any way harmed by the experience, which would minimize my effectiveness today. It’s more an additive to the possibility of seeing what I couldn’t see prior to that experience. And that is an energy that I think is good for leaders to sit in, to experience.
0:54:07.0 PA: Well, in a way, it’s navigating complexity and expanding the scope of the complexity that you can navigate. It goes back to, I know we didn’t talk about this, but the ascending current and the descending current, which is very relevant to Integral Leadership. As a leader, we both have to step into sort of the light, so to say, a positive energy, an inspirational energy, a way that motivates and inspires others on the external. And we have to be willing to sort of walk the descending current of our internal world to explore our shadow, to explore the places and the spots that maybe we’re not showing up so well, that maybe there are gaps, that maybe we’re hurting or harming other people in.
0:54:49.1 PA: And what psychedelics tend to do is they bring more subconscious or unconscious things into conscious awareness, which tends to expand the scope of complexity that one can handle. The values and the principles, so to say, remain there in foundational. But psychedelics just help us to sort of expand and deepen that foundation so we can understand more, and to your point, trust ourselves more. There’s a sense of deep trust that comes from navigating an experience. And uncertainty is the name of the game when it comes to both leadership and navigating a psychedelic experience.
0:55:27.2 PA: And again, there’s a tendency in a let’s say a reactive framework to be more controlling ’cause there’s a lot more knowns, there’s a lot more linear. And yet to go from reactive to creative requires surrender and trust, and that’s not often taught or emphasized in many leadership positions.
0:55:47.2 DJ: And one other element to that is once, especially when someone ascends to a CEO seat, which is the hardest seat, it’s a very challenging thing to be a CEO ’cause everything comes through you. Once you get to that seat, half of the focus that you have is external to the company. So there’s all these demands that have nothing to do with running the company. So now, he or she has to run the company and they’re pulled out of the company more and more. So it’s, How do I… Now, I’m in charge, or I’m, at least, the figure head for the organization. How do I build capacity in others, because I’m also gonna be out of the organization half the time? And it’s amazing how much the demands on a CEO… As one CEO told me after he retired, I said, “How’s it being an ex-CEO?” He’s like, “My jokes aren’t gonna be as funny.” [chuckle] When you’re the CEO, you are funny. And people are like, “Wow! You’re great, Paul,” whatever. When you’re the ex, it’s…
0:57:00.6 PA: It’s true, I’m laughing here. Yeah, it’s true.
0:57:02.0 DJ: The shame wears away. So it’s dealing with all of that and how do you not get seduced by the lights of being in the figure-head foreign organization.
0:57:17.7 PA: I’m glad you brought that up, MJ ‘Cause it’s another point that’s really stuck with me in reading through Fritz’s material, which is around identity and our creations. So much, especially if you’re a CEO, and especially if you’re a founder of a company, which I think probably in many cases with Fortune 50, the CEOs are often not the founders, but they’re still really, really responsible for what’s being created. The ego wants to attach creation with our sense of self-worth. And what Fritz always talks about is you are independent of your creations for better or worse. And I think that also tends to be what psychedelics help to teach is, you are not the work that you do, the work that you do is an important outlet of your life force, but it’s also just another outlet. And I think that sort of sense of separation actually allows for more levity and playfulness because we don’t take it as serious.
0:58:18.4 DJ: And that healthy detachment, which doesn’t mean I’m not passionate and care about a healthy detachment, allows you, whether it’s being a parent or those who have been parents, it’s like, you want your kids to succeed, but being detached from their success and allowing them to fail, it may be the best thing you can do to allow them to figure out how to succeed. Whether if you’re a leader, it’s helping people get clear on this is where we need to go, this is what you need to do. And then giving people the tools and the necessary clarity to let them go succeed or not. Good people rise to the top, and those are the people you count on if they can’t do it, and you give them an opportunity and you’re being caring, and then you let them know, “Hey, this is no longer about potential, this is a performance opportunity. You need to be doing this, you’re doing this, let’s see if you can get there.” And if not, it’s the most caring thing you can do as a leader or manager to let someone know how they’re not making it to where they need to make it, so you give them that possibility of doing the work to getting there. If you don’t know, there’s no way you’re gonna get there. So I know it’s hard. Those difficult conversations people talk about, it’s just a conversation.
0:59:39.4 PA: Don’t take it personal.
0:59:41.5 DJ: Yeah. It’s easy when you’re… Easy said than done.
0:59:43.8 PA: Easier said than done.
0:59:52.6 PA: Well, I wanna end this podcast in saying, thank you for trusting us and enrolling in CCP, thank you for the… When I saw that you applied, I remember we did our application calls, I was a bit blown away, as you can imagine. Someone like me, who’s now teaching and at least for a period of time, was leading people like yourself and many other coaches that are in that program, it felt like a real honor. And I’m also, I just wanna coach how excited I am to start to roll out this next program. And once this podcast is published, the details will be set, we’ll have the retreat set, we’ll have the coaching framework, all those final details really buttoned up. And I’ve probably expressed this through the podcast before, but it can’t hurt to say again, my personal mission in a lot of the psychedelic work is at the intersection of psychedelics and leadership. And I really believe that we have a powerful lever with leaders of massive organizations to actually shift and elevate their consciousness with psychedelics and to have massive downstream effects.
1:01:01.1 PA: And I know, what I love about your work is you’ve been doing this in many ways for 25 years, you’ve done it without the help of psychedelics, and it probably is at least exciting to know there’s another tool in your tool belt now that you can actually weave into this work that could be catalytic in shifting outcomes for clients.
1:01:21.6 DJ: Yeah. And it feels really exciting. I think that’s a great word for it. It feels like things will unfold that will fuel more of this creative spirit to say with this now what’s possible. It feels like a journey, the next journey as someone who’s taken the road less traveled. I did remember it. [chuckle] This feels like another road, and my goal is to make it a playground and have fun with it, to make the world leaders lead more effectively, people be more compassionate and connected to things that are important to them.
1:02:04.7 PA: Beautiful. Well, as a final note, M.J, if folks are listening to this, and wanna find out more about your work, where’s… Website or personal website, work website, where should they go?
1:02:16.2 DJ: Yeah, it’s integratedcoaching.org. Did you post that in this or do I need to spell it?
1:02:24.1 PA: We’ll post it in the show notes. Yeah, we’ll post it in the show notes.
1:02:30.6 DJ: Yeah. People rarely go to our website too. I’ve probably gotten 10 people in the last decade who have gone through the website. So it’s not been an area where that has been a fuel to the kind of general activity of the work we’ve done, but as stepping out in this place, it can be a good place to reach out and there’s a contact page where people can contact me and… Especially leaders. My focus is working with CEOs and leaders to run their companies. So if any are looking for someone that’s looking at this interface of how to be more effective, whether it’s culture change, leading, working with your team, and psychedelics, that’s my sweet spot.
1:03:16.3 PA: And we’ll also post the link in the show notes to the landing page for this new offering that we’re having. Actually, it’s for executive leaders who are interested in working with psychedelics. We’re doing retreats as part of it, we’re doing group coaching as part of it. At the time of the recording, we don’t have the landing page finalized. But once we publish it, we’ll have it up in [Overlapping speech].
1:03:39.9 DJ: And we’re looking for CEOs or CEO like C-suite people to do this. So it’s looking to create a cohort of people that are dealing with similar opportunities and challenges at the top, having that kind of a YPO format that integrates in psychedelics is a way of opening up possibilities and then having discussion and group support and exploration to help people to think about things differently. So that’s kind of the juice of the program. And I’m really excited. It’ll be awesome. It’ll be fun too. Yeah.
1:04:14.5 PA: It will. It will be awesome. Well, this has been awesome, MJ Thanks for popping on for an hour plus, and shooting the show. It was a ton of fun to do this with you and I can’t wait for what’s to come.
1:04:28.3 DJ: And thanks for all the ways you’ve impacted me, man. It’s been awesome, blessing.
1:04:33.5 PA: Thanks so much for watching. If you wanna stay up to date on the third wave of psychedelics, subscribe to this channel and visit the thirdwave.co where you’ll find plenty of free resources and intentional and responsible psychedelic work.